Stretches after leg day

by Jason Stallworth

February 18, 2020

You just left the gym after a brutal leg day and you’re wobbling to your car, ready to go home and drink your protein shake. But there’s one thing you forgot…

You didn’t stretch your quads and hamstrings!

Okay, so maybe you threw back your leg and held it for a few seconds after doing squats. But if you want to get the most of out muscle growth and recovery, you need more.

In this post, you’re going to get 5 stretches that you should do after training legs. I’ll also show you how these will help you build more muscle in your legs.

…and these aren’t your typical leg stretches either!

1 – Seated Toe Touch Stretch

Seated toe touch to stretch hamstrings and lower back

The seated toe touch is the most basic stretch you’ll do after your leg workout. But it’s a must-do stretch, and here’s why…

  • Your lower back is the first muscle you want to stretch after leg day, especially if squats are part of your routine
  • Many bodybuilders and weightlifters suffer from tight hamstrings, which can cause other problems, so stretching your hams is crucial

You can also do this standing but the seated version allows you to get a deeper stretch. It doesn’t hurt to do both.

How to do seated toe touches:

  • Sit with your feet directly in front of you
  • Gradually stretch your arms towards your toes (you don’t have to immediately stretch as far as you can; this should be gradual)
  • Stretch a little further every 10 seconds
  • Do the entire stretch anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, depending on your level

*The ‘seated toe touch’ is referred to as a seated forward bend in yoga.

In fact, if you’re more interested in a full yoga routine, read this post: 11 Yoga Poses for Bodybuilders and Weightlifters.

2 – Standing Quad Stretch with Raised Arm

Quad stretch raised arm pose to stretch quads

Now that you’ve done some stretching for your lower back and hamstrings it’s time to stretch your quads. But this is not your typical standing quad stretch.

While you’re stretching the one quad muscle, you’ll raise the opposite arm over your head. Not only does this stretch your quads but you’re also improving your balance and flexibility.

You may not be able to do this stretch perfectly right away. But I encourage you to practice this often because you will quickly be able to do this flawlessly.

How to do the standing quad stretches with raised arm:

  • Standing up straight, swing one leg behind you and grab your foot with the hand on the same side
  • Gradually raise your other arm out by your side and all the way up above your head
  • Reverse the order and do the same for your other quad
  • Make your first goal to hold this post for 10 seconds, then up to 20 seconds, one each leg

The standing quad stretch while raising your arm also engages your hip flexors. You can read more about how to work this muscle directly in the guide Unlock Your Hip Flexors

3 – Hamstring Hurdle Stretch

Hamstring hurdle stretch after leg day

You’re flipping back to stretching your hamstrings and lower back again. But this stretch is more challenging and also provides a deeper level of stretching.

The seated hamstring hurdle stretch is one of my personal favorites. This is mainly because of the way you feel after doing this stretch.

You literally feel like a new person because there’s so much relief in your hamstrings and lower back from doing this stretch.

How to do the seated hamstring hurdle stretch:

  • Sit with your legs out (kind of like you’re making a ‘V’ with your legs)
  • Bend one knee to where that foot is touching your inner thigh
  • Gradually lean down and stretch your arms towards the foot that is out
  • Your goal is to grab that foot with both hands while stretching as far down as you can
  • Like the seated toe touches, make this move a gradual one
  • Repeat with the other leg
  • Do a total of 1 minute for each leg

4 – ‘Lord of the Dance’ Yoga Stretch

Warrior 1 pose - yoga for bodybuilders and weightlifters

This next stretch is a well-known yoga pose called Lord of the Dance. Here you’re going to focus on stretching your quads and also your hip flexors.

It’s definitely one of the more challenging stretches. But it’s awesome after a hard leg workout (and any workout where you’re lifting heavy).

As you can see there’s an element of balance with the Lord of the Dance. This will force you to keep your core tight. And strengthening your core will also help you have more effective (and safer) leg workouts.

How to do Lord of the Dance:

  • Go back to the standing position you were in for the standing quad stretch
  • Throw one leg back and grab that foot with the same-side hand
  • Keep a slight bend in your leg that’s holding you up
  • Gradually bend your body forward while stretching out the opposite arm in front of you
  • Reverse the order and repeat
  • Make an initial goal to hold this pose for 10 seconds, but ultimately go for 20

Stretching your hip flexors is crucial after your leg workouts. This will make you stronger but also help prevent injuries.

There’s an additional guide specific to the hip flexors that I recommend here: Unlock Your Hip Flexors

5 – Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Kneeling hip flexor pose - yoga for bodybuilders and weightlifters

Now you’re going to move on to a deeper hip flexor stretch in a kneeling position. You’ll also raise one arm to make the stretch more effective.

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to stretch your hip flexors. They play such a ‘huge’ role in the development of your leg muscles.

This stretch will also boost your squat and leg press strength because you’re strengthening your supporting and stabilizing muscles. Again, this is crucial when you’re doing brutal leg workouts with squats.

In addition, get a nice quad stretch out of this move. When you kneel you’ll place that knee slightly behind the rest of your body, stretching that quad muscle.

How to do the kneeling hip flexor stretch:

  • Kneel down on one knee making sure your knee is placed slightly behind the rest of your body (this gives you that quad and hip flexor stretch in one)
  • Place the opposite hand on your side
  • Raise your other arm over your head
  • Reverse the order and repeat
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds on each knee

Leg Day Stretching Routine

Now let’s put it all together in a lower body stretching routine that you can do after your leg workouts.

The awesome part is you can do this routine pretty much anywhere. You can be inside your home, at the gym, or like you see in the images, outside on your patio.

*I do suggest getting a quality yoga mat for the seated stretches. And get one with good reviews and that is known to last, like the one below…

Basically, you’ll go through this routine two times. This routine should only take bout 10 minutes. And you can go through it a third time if you choose

Leg Day StretchesTime
Seated to touches30 seconds to 1 minute
Standing quad stretch/raised arm10-20 seconds each
Hamstring hurdle stretch1 minute
Lord of the Dance10-20 seconds each
Kneeling hip flexor stretch30 seconds each
Lord of the Dance10-15 seconds each

It’s ideal to do this stretching routine after your leg workout. But it’s also not a bad idea to stretch again several hours after your workout.

For example, if you train in the mornings you can do another couple of rounds of stretching that night.

**Make sure you check out the recommended hip flexor stretching guide. This was co-created with the reputable powerlifting coach and competitor Mike Westerdal: Unlock Your Hip Flexors

Stretch for Bigger Legs

Stretching is one of the often forgotten exercises when it comes to bodybuilding. We tend to think everything outside of squats, leg press and extensions (aka lifting weights) is a waste of time.

The problem is if you’re not stretching, you’re limiting your potential to grow new muscle and bigger legs. These stretches I showed you also help strengthen your core, which is crucial for heavy leg workouts.

You’re also more prone to injury of you don’t properly stretch after your workout. This is especially true if you’re doing squats on leg day.

Use this stretching routine after your next leg workout and every one thereafter. You should experience more leg growth and your lower back will thank you as well.

Train with Passion,

Jason

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