Precor Stretch Trainer Reviews

Precor Stretch Trainer

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A Personal Trainer's Thoughts on the Precor Stretch Trainer

Jan 11, 2003 (Updated Mar 29, 2003)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Helps if you avoid stretching, adds stability and structure.

Cons:Some stretches aren't effective. All can be done without the machine.

The Bottom Line: This is a good machine for a gym to have. It adds variety and can help some who need structure and stability.


I have been using the Precor Stretch Trainer for over a year since we joined World’s Gym. I like it. My husband likes it more.

What is this Stretch Trainer, why use it and how does it work?

The Stretch Trainer is a machine that uses no weights or resistance and is intended to assist you in stretching your muscles.

It has a metal base with a plastic seat. The handles, which you can see from the picture, have foam over them. The red straps you see are supposed to be put on your wrists for safety reasons. You can slip off this machine so it is a preventative measure though most people I see including my husband, who says they are uncomfortable, do not use them. I do and barely notice they are on.

The seat is slanted and pivots backward to the floor which is where the safety issue comes in. You are warned not to sit on the edge of the seat. In general I think this is a safe machine.

The handles, which are curved, are meant to be held in different places depending on what part of your body you are working. I will go into more detail but I find them comfortable to hold. The padding on the handles is thick enough that I take off my gloves when I use the Stretch Trainer.

The purpose of the Stretch Trainer is to improve flexibility, increase your range of motion (How far for example you can bring your arm around your back.) and ease muscle tension after working out. My husband stretches before and after his workout. I only stretch after. You should stretch all your major muscle groups after a workout. The Stretch Trainer gives you 8 stretches working 10 body parts. It doesn’t stretch the biceps/triceps area or chest in any concentrated way.

There is an easy to read board that sits right in front of you as you stretch. This board has pictures that for the most part make sense with good descriptions of exactly what you do to stretch your muscles.

In order to work this machine well you want to keep your arms straight and keep your knees on the kneepad (The kneepad is a black plastic pad that lies flat below the seat and above the floor.)

For whom is this for and pros and cons:

The Stretch Trainer is great for someone who wants structure. Many people don’t stretch. Some don’t know what stretches to do. Some gyms have pictures on the walls but that means you have to stand and look at them, which I know, can be embarrassing. Some people just don’t want to be bothered. I compare this machine in a way to the gym, Curves for Women. What needs to be done is spelled out for you and you can stretch without having to remember what to do or how to do it.

Some people are uncomfortable lying on the floor to stretch. Perhaps the mats at the gym are thin or you are buying this for your home (Though I don’t recommend it for home use. I think it is too expensive for your home.) If you follow the instructions correctly you don’t have to be afraid of stretching wrong and hurting yourself.

I find some of the stretches, especially the ones for the back, are really effective. I usually prefer to stretch my other muscle groups on the floor and standing but I have been stretching for a long time. The Stretch Trainer gives you stability which stretching on your own won’t give you. Again I can compare it to using dumbbells which offer no stability versus using a machine which gives you maximum stability.

The stretches are designed to force you to stretch so you can’t cheat. Using your own body weight to pull, for example, not only feels really good, but also you can get a great stretch. It is really easy to stretch the quadricep muscle (The front of your thigh.) on this machine. If you stretch that muscle incorrectly on your own, you can hurt your knee.

In my opinion some of the stretches require some flexibility in order to complete the stretch. When I list them below I will give you an example. You can gain that flexibility little by little by attempting the stretch and with each attempt you will get more and more flexible.

I have to be truthful and tell you that a person who is obese will have trouble with this machine. The seat is fairly small and the space between the seat and handles is not large. As a Personal Trainer, I would not have an obese person start to stretch on this machine unless they wanted to try it out and then I would only have them do what I mention below. I would have them on the floor stretching as much or as little as possible.

The stretches:

The first stretch has you begin with the seat in the forward position. You hold the upper bar (meaning the part of the bar that is farthest away from you) with your palms facing down. This is a great back stretch and it feels very good. Anyone can do this, regardless of size or flexibility.

The second stretch tells you to hold the lower bar (The bar closest to you.) with your palms facing down. Extend a leg and keep it straight. Point and flex your toes and then switch legs. To make this more difficult, hold the upper bar. This becomes more difficult because your body is farther away from the front of the machine. This will stretch out your hamstrings. (back of thighs) This is also easy to do regardless of size or flexibility. I don’t think I get as good a stretch with this exercise on the Stretch Trainer as I do on the floor and standing.

The third stretch has us holding the lower bar with palms facing down. You put an ankle on the top edge of kneepad, knee or thigh. Complete the stretch, then switch legs. This is stretching the gluteus (your butt) and hips. This one requires a bit of flexibility and I would not recommend it for someone obese or who has never stretched before. I think it can be awkward to get into this position if you are not somewhat flexible and used to stretching.

The fourth stretch involves holding the upper bar with palms facing down. You put both hands to the left of the center of the handles. Then you will extend your left leg toward the right side of the center. Point or flex your toe. Complete the stretch and then switch to the right leg moving it to the left of the center. This stretches the hips, legs and back. A large person will have trouble getting one leg over to the other side of the machine. If you have never stretched you can try this and see if you can get your leg to the other side no matter what size you are.

The fifth stretch is the traditional one we probably have all done on the floor. Except this time you are on a machine. This will be very awkward if you are large or your balance is not good. This excise is a good example of when the handles will come in handy. You hold the lower bar with palms facing down. With the seat in the forward position, you will place your feet facing one another on top edge of kneepad. If you were on the floor you would be bringing your feet together with your knees pointed to each side. This works the inner thigh and the groin and is an excellent stretch for that area. If you need the discipline of the machine, then this will be great for you.

The sixth stretch has you holding the upper bar with your palms facing up. To intensify this stretch, look up or to the right or to the left. This is supposed to stretch your upper back but I get nothing out of it. The picture for this one is confusing and I will leave you the url for the pictures. They look exactly like the do on the machine. It looks like this man has his palms facing down which is what is confusing. In any case, I usually skip this one.

The seventh stretch has us holding the upper bar. We cross our arms and grasp the bar right hand on left handle, left hand on right handle. To make this one harder look up or look to the right or to the left. Complete the stretch, then switch hand positions. This is another one that I find fairly useless for the trained person. It is for the shoulders and there are many shoulder stretches that are excellent. They do require your knowing them, so doing this is better than doing nothing. These last two really require no flexibility and anyone can do them.

The eighth and last stretch has us standing up and facing the handle. You will hold the handle for support and rest the top of your foot on the top edge of kneepad. You want to keep your back straight and bend the other leg. Your toe can grasp the top of the seat if you have it in the up position. Complete the stretch, then switch legs. This is for the quadriceps (front of thighs) and really mirrors one done without the machine. In this case, the machine is good, especially for the person new to stretching. It will keep you in the proper position and you may be less prone to injury.

As an aside, for those of you who do quad stretches standing, it is critical that your knee points down. You don’t want to grab your foot and bring your leg out at an angle, which many people do, and then they hurt their knee.

My final thoughts:

Precor has this machine listed under both home and commercial use. It costs $695. Unless you have money to burn, I would not recommend that you buy this. If you are unsure how to stretch you can hire a personal trainer for a couple of hours and have $600 left over! I would certainly suggest that gyms have it. Although I don’t love this machine and am giving it an average rating, it does have benefits for many people who need structure, who may have physical needs that make this machine a better option than being on the floor and for those of us who want variety in our routines.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment.

http://www.precor.com/cpr_stt_tips-movements.php

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Precor Stretch Trainer



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