Athletic Stretch


It’s elementary: To reach for the stars, you have to stretch first. That’s true whether you’re aiming for a new job or a new PR. This athletic stretch sequence will help you with the latter. By incorporating rotation and shifting your weight, you’ll be working to extend your range of motion and increase your flexibility at the same time that you’re challenging your stability. All three aspects of these stretches will improve your foundation for lifting, sprinting and just about any other kind of movement.

Perform each movement for 30 to 60 seconds (per side, where applicable).

Standing Massage

  • Stand with your feet under your hips.
  • With light fists, quickly tap your legs to stimulate circulation and wake up the tissues.
  • Balance on one leg and reach down. Start at each ankle and tap your legs, moving up the sides of your legs and to the front and then to the back of your legs.
  • Do the other side. Lean over slightly and reach around to do your lower back, then use your opposite hand to tap your opposite shoulder and down your arm and back up.
  • Then do the opposite side and finish with a light tap on your head.

Triceps Stretch With Side Bend

  • Stand with your feet under your hips, arms at your sides.
  • Bring your right arm up, bending at your elbow and placing your right hand behind your neck, elbow pointed to the ceiling.
  • Grab your right elbow with your left hand and gently pull it until you feel a stretch in your right triceps. Bend to your left until you feel a stretch in the right side of your body.
  • Release and repeat on the opposite arm/side.

Deep Squat With Rotation

  • Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders.
  • Sit your hips back and down to come into a low squat.
  • At the bottom, place your right hand on the ground in front of you and rotate to open up your chest to the ceiling, bringing your left hand directly above you to form one long line.
  • Rotate back down and press through your heels to stand. Repeat the squat and rotate to the other side at the bottom.

Flex and Extend Back Stretch

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Interlace your fingers, flip your palms out and drive your hands forward as you hinge forward from your hips.
  • Bring your torso parallel to the floor and press your hands away from you.

Dynamic Lunge Series

  • Begin kneeling with your knees under your hips.
  • Bring your right foot through and in front of you, leg straight and toes flexed to the ceiling.
  • Lean forward to stretch the back of your front leg, and keep hands on the floor on either side of your leg for balance.
  • Plant your front foot on the ground and shift your hips forward for a hip-flexor stretch, spine rounded over your front leg.
  • Press your hips forward and shift forward, bending your knee even more for a deeper stretch to the Achilles and soleus.
  • Place your hands on either side of your front foot, tuck your back toes and bring your back knee off the ground to straighten your back leg.
  • Hold here, then keep your left hand on the ground and rotate your chest to open up toward your front leg, bringing your right hand to the ceiling.
  • Come to plank position and switch sides.

Side-Body Stretch

  • Sit cross-legged.
  • Bring your left arm overhead and toward your right side to stretch the left side of your body.
  • Release and repeat on the opposite side.

Seated Ankle Rotation

  • Sit comfortably and hold your right shin with two hands just above your ankle.
  • Roll your right ankle seven times in each direction.
  • Place that foot on the ground and switch legs.

Prone Breathing

  • Lie on your stomach in a prone position.
  • Place your arms under your forehead for comfort.
  • Relax and take deep belly breaths.

Meet the Model: Roderick (Rory) Santos

Roderick “Rory” Santos is a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness Apple Valley Super Sport in Southern California. Santos took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about himself for 24Life.

24Life: Why did you become a personal trainer?

Rory Santos: It literally started by demand! When I began 30 years ago, most gyms didn’t have personal trainers. I took to my own training with great delight and focus like it was my craft—part science, part art. Gym members took notice of my dedication and results and would randomly approach me and ask if I would train them. From there it just took off and snowballed.

24Life: Favorite and least favorite workout move?

RS: Heavy squats. The same answer to both questions! I love/hate them! As an athlete who has performed in football, track and surfing, the overall positive conditioning effect of heavy leg work is undeniable. Knees that are over 50 years old and have been partially surgically replaced, like mine, need extra-special care and motivation for these moves, but it can be done!

24Life: Finish the sentence “When I’m not working out, I am…”

RS: Training others! It seems my personal training schedule stays so busy that I’m always in a step-up to balance between my work and my personal life. Maybe that’s one reason I connect so well to my clients’ fitness needs versus their busy lifestyle demands.

24Life: Your favorite fit tip?

RS: The fountain of youth is between your ears! Everyone wants to have a fit and attractive body, but body health literally begins with brain health. We choose what we think and focus on—toxic or positive—and what we are feeding our insides will always manifests itself on the outside.

24Life: Your power/pump-up song?

RS: “Love With Your Life” by Hollyn.

24Life: Favorite memory as a trainer, so far?

RS: I’ve been blessed to train some incredible physique contestants, including one young lady who went on to become a pro and another who is on her way, but I’ll never forget the time I trained and competed for myself in a physique contest. It was just a couple years ago when I was 56 years old and coming off a partial knee replacement surgery. My competitors were young men half my age, and yet I walked away with two trophies for placing in the top five!

24Life: This summer, what’s one thing you wish every client knew?

RS: Have fun on your summer vacations—but take your trainer with you! It’s the digital age—we have an app for that! With 24GO, your trainer can help you balance fun with fitness. Return from your vacation with your mind blown (from all the enjoyment)—and not with your gut and health blown out!

Video credit: simonkr, Getty Images
Photo credit: djile, Adobe Stock
GIFs: Tom Casey, box24studio.com
Grooming: Chanel
Model: Rory Santos, 24 Hour Fitness