Fitness & Training, Strength fitness

The right stretches after an abdominal workout

By performing light stretches without exerting force after an abdominal workout, you can maximise the benefits of your strength training. Let yourself be inspired by a few exercises from yoga and stretching to start and finish your abdominal workout in a gentle way. 

What are the benefits of stretching after an abdominal workout?

Sporty man stretching back before gym workout. Fitness strong male athlete on floor mat and towel warming up indoor.

Stretching after an abdominal workout is recommended to optimise the results. Integrating stretching into your training sessions is very easy: there are many exercises, most of which do not require any equipment.

Reminder: the abdominal strap muscles

The abdominal strap consists mainly of 4 muscles which play an important role in breathing and body support:

  • The large oblique: the longest muscle of the abdominal muscles is located on the side of the abdomen and involved in the lateral flexions of the chest.
  • The small obliques are also called internal oblique muscles of the abdomen, the small obliques are located under the large obliques and also intervene during lateral flexions.
  • Transverse muscle: the transverse muscles are the deepest muscles of the abdominal belt. They help to stabilise the torso and hold the viscera in place.
  • The rectus abdominis: extending from the pubis to the sternum, this muscle is stimulated when the pelvis is arched and when the chest swells during breathing.

The benefits of stretching the abdominal muscles

Stretching the abdominals is essential for:

  • Reducing the risk of injury during training
  • Relieving tension in the back muscles, hip flexors and abdominals
  • Improving flexibility, body posture and muscular relaxation, which affects the quality of breathing

The right stretching habits after abs workout

Attractive Female Athlete Stretching Back with Foam Roller

Doing your stretching exercise after abdominal workout helps to avoid pain and helps you to recover better:

  • A stretching session lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Perform static stretches after the workout session, holding each posture for about 20 seconds. Do this for about 20 seconds.
  • Don’t force it: whatever you do, you should not feel any pain while stretching.

Targeted exercises to stretch the abs after workout

After an abdominal workout, various exercises, such as stretching or yoga, can gently stretch the abdominal muscles. It is also possible to do them outside the workout sessions, in the cold, to relax and ease your breathing: these are excellent exercises for relieving stress. 

Targeted static stretching for the abdominals

The following postures, to be performed with or without equipment, tone the back and abdominal muscles:

  • Cobra posture: Lying on your stomach, balance yourself on your hands while lying flat on the ground, shoulder width apart, with your arms outstretched. Raise the chest slowly to stretch the abdominal muscles. Tilt your head back slightly to stretch your neck and shoulders further.
  • Stretching of the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles: Lie on your back, stretch your arms and legs flat on the ground and try to stretch as much as possible. Avoid digging into your back.
  • Stretching with a swiss-ball: Simply lie on your back, on the ball, head backwards and arms towards the ground (they can even touch the ground).
  • Dog pose: Get down on all fours, knees on the ground, arms outstretched and hands inward, arch the back and pull the belly out to stretch the muscles straight out.

Throughout the exercises, breathe in slowly and deeply, trying to exhale only when the muscle is in the stretching position. 

A stretching exercise to be done after an abdominal workout

Choose 4 abdominal stretching exercises, for example those mentioned above, and make a habit of doing each one twice after your workout session. Hold each movement for 20 seconds and do not exert yourself. Stretching should not test the maximum range of motion, but simply to stretch the muscle in order to relax it. A stretching session usually lasts about 10 minutes.

If you wish, you can also perform some dynamic stretching movements during warm-up. Adding a few exercises to your abdominal stretching routine to relax the lower back, such as the yoga-inspired child’s posture, is also a great idea.

Check out our Fitness & Training page for more advice.