Stretching is often seen as a necessary evil of physical exercise.

It doesn’t improve your cardio, build muscle, or enhance your diet. Often, it just feels like a waste of time.

people-stretching-on-stepsHowever, overlook the importance of stretching, both as a warm-up and especially as a cool-down (that’s really where stretching counts), and you’ll find yourself regretting it when an injury hits you out of nowhere.

That’s why WGS or the “World’s Greatest Stretch” is so great. The stretch is known to professional trainers and elite athletes alike for its ability to target every major muscle group in the body — in a single stretch. It takes that pre- or post- stretch and not only optimizes it, but simplifies the whole thing.

That’s reason enough to incorporate WGS into your routine, but why else is it so legendary?

Even if you don’t have time for a big workout, stretching in the morning and night really changes your body.

– Erin Heatherton

In addition to targeting every major muscle in the body, WGS includes both static and dynamic movements and positioning. That means it “activates” the central nervous system, creating new connections between the brain and body that help improve your workouts by more reliably activating muscles when they’re needed, along with reducing injury.

How to perform the ‘world’s greatest stretch’

So, how do you perform this legendary stretch? The steps are pretty simple:

  1. Lunge forward with your right leg until the knee of your left leg is almost flat with the floor, then touch your hands to the floor to the left of (inside) your right leg.
  2. Maintaining your lunge, rotate your upper body while lifting your right arm up as if you’re trying to touch the sky. Lower your right arm back down to its original position (you can repeat the same with the left arm if you’d like).
  3. Next, lower your left knee to the ground while maintaining a straight posture (this helps stretch your quads and hip flexors).
  4. And lastly, extend your right leg while leaning back to shift your body weight, which helps stretch your calves and hamstring muscles.

Make sure to hold each position for three-to-five seconds, and move through the entire stretch at least three times on each side, alternating each time (a total of six times, three times on each side).

We know that text instructions for physical movements can be tough to follow for some, so we’ve included an assortment of the best Youtube videos showing different variations of the world’s greatest stretch:

World’s Greatest Stretch video examples

Here are three great video examples of WSG in action, each with a slightly different twist on the exercise to show you various different ways you can implement it into your own routine and make it your own:

1. Basic example

This first example is clear and straightforward. The trainer doesn’t stretch both arms in the example, however, if you’re alternating between both sides it’s not necessary.

2. World’s greatest walking stretch

Another version of WSG, this variation has the user lunging forward after each raising-arm stretch. This version is great for runners and anyone who uses their legs actively.

3. World’s greatest plank?

This is a powerful variation as the trainer begins in a planking position as opposed to standing, great for anyone looking to build strength naturally.