With a busy schedule, stretching is often the first thing you may want to cut from your workout routine. But you may be shortchanging your results. Stretching takes only a few minutes, but it yields lasting benefits.

“Weight training constricts muscle fibers, causing more tension. Stretching can help alleviate this tension and improve both balance and range of motion so you can move more easily,” says Michelle Johnson, an IFBB bikini pro and former yoga teacher.

Stretching is also a great stress buster (and who couldn’t use some more of that right now?), especially when you pay attention to your breathing, inhaling and exhaling deeply as you hold or move through each pose.

Do these exercises as indicated before and after your strength workouts to warm up and stretch out your entire body. You’ll feel the difference almost immediately and take that “ahh” feeling with you through the rest of your day.

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