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Upper Body Active Stretch Workout - Arms, Shoulder, Chest, and Back Stretching Exercises

14 Min • Upper Body, Core
  • View on YouTube
    • Training Type Low Impact, Warm Up/Cool Down, Stretching/Flexibility
    • Equipment No Equipment
    • Membership Free


    When you need to do a flexibility routine, whether you just finished a workout or you are wanting to do some corrective stretching on your day off, you have a choice between two different styles. These two different styles are Active Stretching and Passive Stretching. The difference between the two is actually quite large considering they both are intended to do the same thing; increase flexibility.  

    Though we use the active form in this video lets cover the passive version first.  Passive stretching is primarily using gravity or some other passive form like a machine to lengthen your muscles, ligaments, and tendons; think a Straight Leg Hang also known as a Standing Toe Touch. A Standing Toe Touch uses gravity to pull your upper body down towards the floor (when not engaging any other muscles) and is only as effective as the amount of leverage your upper body can place on your hamstrings (the back of the thighs). When done on a regular basis your body will increase its flexibility around the hip joint lengthening the muscles and tendons in the back of the thigh but it does nothing when it comes to control of that new range of motion.

    Active Stretching on the other hand specifically engages the muscles that oppose the area you are wanting to increase flexibility in. What this does is allow your body to increase flexibility and strength simultaneously in regards to a joint's range of motion. This means that no matter how flexible you become you will alway have control over that range, lowering your chances of putting your body in a dangerous position.  An example of active stretching similar to the example I gave above would be a Seated Toe Touch where you are engaging your hip flexors (the muscles in the front of the hip) and the quadriceps (the muscles in the front of the thigh) to keep your leg straight while tilting your hips forward towards your legs to lengthen and tighten the hamstring (back of the thigh) and glutes (butt muscles).

    Not only does this form of flexibility training protect your joints more than passive stretching it also burns more calories. Because you are using your own muscle tissue to get into position, you have to constantly contract specific areas of your body for the entire duration of the stretch to keep the proper amount of tension. Because you are generally using only a few muscles at a time this ends up not being a huge calorie burner but it is still far better than the alternative and besides who is going to say no to a few more calories burnt throughout your day?

    Stretches in this Routine

    Overhead Tricep and Shoulder Stretch
    Arm Cross
    Chest Stretch
    Rear Arm Raise (Down and Up)
    Forearm Flexion and Contraction
    Abdominal Bow
    Lower Back Round
    Oblique Lean (Left and Right)

    Though this workout is not intended to be a big calorie burner it does happen to burn some calories.  Depending on how hard you contract for each hold/stretch you can burn from 1 calorie per minute on the low end, up to 4 calories per minute on the high end. This will give you a range from 12 to 49 calories for this quick 14 minute stretching routine. Though it may not seem like much, every little bit counts when it comes to losing weight or keeping it off.