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8 Dynamic Arm Stretches To Get You Ready For Your Next Workout

dynamic arm stretches

Warming up before any physical activity is smart because it helps get our bodies limbered up and ready to do whatever workout awaits.

And when it comes to preventing injuries and optimizing performance, dynamic stretches are a must.

So, if you’re about to crush a chest, back, shoulder, or arm workout, you’re gonna want to knock out a few sets of dynamic arm stretches first.

Now there are a lot of dynamic arm stretches to choose from and the ones you pick will likely depend on what exercises you’re preparing for.

But don’t worry, I got your back.

In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about stretching your arms and getting them loose and ready for your workouts.

I’ll also provide examples of some of the most effective dynamic stretches out there, so you’ll have plenty of material to pick from when creating your own routines.

Alright, let’s get to it.

Dynamic Arm Stretches: Boosting Your Flexibility
1. Arm Circles
Muscles: Deltoids, Rotator Cuff
Joints: Shoulder
2. Lateral Arm Swings
Muscles: Deltoids, Biceps, Pecs
Joints: Elbow, Shoulder
3. Cross-Body Stretch
Muscles: Deltoids
Joints: Shoulder
4. Triceps Stretch
Muscles: Triceps
Joints: Elbow, Shoulder
5. Sun Salute
Muscles: Wrist Flexors, Pecs
Joints: Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist
6. Overhead Arm Swing
Muscles: Deltoids, Pecs, Lats
Joints: Shoulder, Elbow
7. Dynamic Lat Stretch
Muscles: Lat
Joints: Shoulder, Spine
8. Standing Side-Bend
Muscles: Lats, QL, Obliques
Joints: Shoulder, Spine
Brought to You by The Home Gym

Dynamic vs Static Stretching

Dynamic stretching and static stretching are two different approaches to warming up and improving flexibility in the muscles.

Each method has its own benefits and is suitable for different situations.

Dynamic stretching involves moving parts of your body through a full range of motion in a controlled manner.

It often mimics the movements of the activity you are about to engage in.

The primary goal of dynamic stretching is to increase blood flow, warm up the muscles, and improve joint flexibility. It’s commonly used as part of a warm-up routine before engaging in activities that require agility, strength, and coordination.

On the other hand, static stretching involves holding a stretch position for an extended period, typically between 15 to 60 seconds.

This type of stretching aims to lengthen the muscle and increase overall flexibility.

Static stretching is commonly used as part of a cool-down routine after physical activity, as it’s been shown that too much static stretching may actually be detrimental to physical performance.

In a nutshell:

  • Dynamic stretching involves movement and is performed as part of the warm-up
  • Static stretching involves holding positions for longer periods and is best used in the cool-down

8 Dynamic Arm Stretches To Add To Your Warm-Up

#1 Arm Circles

We’re all probably familiar with this classic from PE class and it’s still a great exercise to get the deltoids nice and warm.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, extend your arms to the sides, and rotate them in small circles.

Gradually increase the size of the circles to work a larger range of motion and don’t be afraid to alternate between clockwise and counter-clockwise.

This exercise promotes flexibility in your shoulder joints, making it a great choice for shoulder or chest day.

#2 Lateral Arm Swings (aka Hug Yourself)

This is another great stretch that focuses on loosening up the shoulders, but unlike arm circles, you tend to get a little more stretch in the posterior delts and pecs.

It also gets the lats moving a little, making it a great stretch before any upper-body workout.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms to the sides.

Swing both arms across your body, like you’re hugging yourself and then return to the starting position.

With each hug, alternate which hand is on top and which is on the bottom.

Pro tip: squeeze your shoulder blades together as you swing your arms back and protract your shoulder blades forward as you bring your arms toward your chest for additional shoulder blade mobility.

Repeat for 10-15 reps or approximately 20-30 seconds.

#3. Cross-body Shoulder Stretch

This move is basically the single arm version of the lateral arm swings mentioned above.

But by doing one arm at a time, you can use the other arm to provide a little overpressure, getting a better stretch on the posterior delts.

Hold for a couple seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Perform 4-5 stretches per arm.

#4 Triceps Stretch

This one targets your triceps, which can be a tough muscle group to stretch.

Start by raising your right arm overhead, bending your elbow and reaching your hand down your back.

Use your left hand to gently push on your right elbow for a second or two and then switch and repeat on the other side.

This stretch is effective for improving flexibility in the triceps and the back of the arms, but it also mobilizes your shoulders too.

FYI, if you hold this stretch for a prolonged period, it turns into a static stretch and is no longer dynamic – keep in mind static stretching is best suited for after working out and dynamic stretches are preferred for the warm up.

Repeat 4-5x per side.

Pro tip: you can stretch a little deeper if you contract your triceps (straighten your elbow) while your arm is behind your head and then bend back into the stretch. Repeat this a few times for a great dynamic stretch.

#5 Sun Salute Wrist Stretch

I’ve done a lot of wrist flexor and extensor stretching in my day, but I found this one and thought it was great.

This move actively stretches your wrist flexors, but it also helps mobilize your elbows and shoulders too.

It would be hard for me to describe all the movements going on here, so just watch the above video to see what it’s all about.

But if you’re like me and you deal with medial epicondylitis, you should certainly give this one a try.

#6 Overhead Arm Swings

This stretch targets the shoulders, as well as the lats and biceps, and is a great overall mobility move for the upper body.

This stretch is very similar to the lateral arm swings mentioned earlier, but instead of going across your body, you’ll be swinging vertically.

You can bend your elbows as you bring ’em up over head like the gentleman in the video does, or you can keep your elbows straight.

Incorporating a little trunk movement to coincide with your arms will provide a little extra range of motion.

Repeat for 10-15 reps or for about 20 seconds.

#7 Dynamic Lat Stretch

The lats are large muscles that cover a lot of real estate, so it’s a good idea to get them warmed up nicely before any back or shoulder workout.

Stretching your lats can also help with shoulder range of motion issues, but that’s a discussion for another day.

For this stretch, you have to be comfortable with getting down on your hands and knees, but you could also do a standing version.

While kneeling, bring one arm across your body and place it on the floor in front of you.

Gently bring your bottom toward the floor, feeling a stretch in your lats.

Hold for a breath or two and then switch to the other side.

Repeat 4-5x per arm.

#8 Standing Side Bend

The last stretch I want to mention is a good one because it stretches a lot of stuff at the same time.

This move stretches the lats, but it also stretches your quadratus lumborum (QL), a strong lumbar stabilizer, and mobilizes your thoracic spine at the same time.

Stand comfortably with your feet together and place one hand on your hips or down by your side.

Lift the other hand straight up toward the ceiling and side bend, trying to elongate your spine and reach your hand out toward the ceiling.

Hold for a breath or two and then repeat on the other side.

Final Thoughts

Incorporating dynamic arm stretches into your warm-up routine is a smart idea because they can help greatly when it comes to improving flexibility and preventing injuries.

They can also help optimize performance by mimicking some of the exercise you may be doing in your workouts.

These dynamic movements target various muscle groups in the arms and shoulders, helping to prepare your upper body for any physical activity.

Remember to perform these stretches in a controlled and deliberate manner, gradually increasing the intensity as your muscles warm up.

It’s also always a good idea to get your blood pumping a little with some mild cardio beforehand to improve mobility even more.

I hope you found this guide helpful and if you have any favorite dynamic stretches that weren’t mentioned here, please share in a comment below.

Happy stretching!


Will's a licensed physical therapist (DPT) with over 15 years of experience treating patients from all backgrounds. He's been lifting weights and exercising in one form or another since middle school and has been working out in his own home gym for over a decade. When it comes to fitness equipment, there isn't much he hasn't tried. In his spare time, if he isn't writing or working out, he's likely playing basketball, watching movies, or hanging with his family.

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