Back to School at
Home > Mom's Life > Mom's Health and Fitness > Exercise Tips > Beginning a Stretching Program

Beginning a Stretching Program

Easy Does It

One of the reasons why motivated types like Jonathan and Joe postponed stretching for so long is that they viewed it as a cardio- or strength-training session. In other words, they saw it as a contest they waged with themselves (a particularly male condition known as machismo). This ability to try less hard is particularly irksome for these achievement types because they are so conditioned to believe that harder is better.

Here's where the train hard, train soft mindset must come in. The key words when it comes to flexibility training are gradual and easy! And, as we'll discuss in a moment, the operative phrase is "belly breath." Stretching consists of several fluid, graceful movements that you do in concert with focused breathing. Done correctly, you should experience mild discomfort in one or more muscle groups, but not pain. Again, if there is pain, there will not be gain.

Why? There are defense mechanisms inside your muscles called muscle spindles. The muscle spindles are quite sensitive to stretch. If your muscle stretches too far too fast, the muscle spindles pull back to shorten the muscle and prevent muscle or tendon damage. It's precisely because of this self-protective mechanism of the muscle spindles that it's so important to stretch correctly. Try too hard and you may actually end up with less flexibility rather than more.

Next: Page 5 >>

Excerpted from he Complete Idiot's Guide to Weight Training © 2003 by Deidre Johnson-Cane and Jonathan Cane. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide website or call 1-800-253-6476.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.



Handwriting Headquarters
We've got handwriting practice worksheets, handwriting tips, and answers to your child's writing struggles, just in time for back to school. Brought to you by BIC.

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit to sign our petition to save handwriting!