By Steven J. Fleck, Ph.D.

Q:

I’ve heard that you just shouldn’t stretch proper earlier than a weight-training session as a result of it will lower your maximal power and energy. I’ve seen, nevertheless, that almost all of the research wanting on the results of stretching proper earlier than a coaching session have studied individuals with little or no stretching expertise. I’ve been stretching for years and wish to know if stretching proper earlier than a weight-training session will nonetheless lower my maximal power and energy throughout the coaching session.

A:

You’ve made a really astute commentary. You’re appropriate in that almost all of research wanting on the results of stretching previous to a weight-training session on power and energy have typically targeted on individuals with little or no coaching historical past of stretching. However, one sports activities science analysis challenge addresses the doable results of a stretching coaching historical past on whether or not or not stretching proper earlier than a resistance-training session impacts maximal power and energy in a coaching session. You’ve been stretching for years; this research checked out college-aged women and men who had been stretching for not less than 10 weeks in bodily training courses. These college students weren’t aggressive athletes, however had been recreationally energetic in all kinds of sports activities reminiscent of basketball, volleyball, soccer, swimming, tennis and weight coaching. So they had been not less than “recreationally” bodily match. They additionally had fairly good flexibility, with all research individuals having a sit-and-reach flexibility rating better than the sixtieth percentile.

In order to take a look at the impact of stretching on maximal power, the school college students carried out a stretching routine for the hamstrings and quadriceps muscle teams proper earlier than dedication of their one-repetition most within the knee curl and knee extension. The stretching routine consisted of 5 totally different stretches for the hamstrings and quadriceps. They repeated every stretch 3 times, holding for 15 seconds to the purpose of discomfort, after which taking a 15-second relaxation between successive stretches. The whole stretching routine took about 20 minutes. After stretching, their one-repetition most in each the knee curl and knee extension considerably decreased in comparison with no stretching. Knee curl one-repetition most decreased roughly 3.4 p.c, whereas knee extension one-repetition most decreased roughly 5.6 p.c after stretching, in comparison with no stretching.

The outcomes point out that even in individuals who have a stretching coaching historical past, stretching proper earlier than a coaching session would lower maximal power and energy. The individuals on this research had a stretching coaching historical past of 10 weeks; you’ve been stretching for years, so there’s the likelihood that with an extended stretching coaching historical past, the impact on maximal power and energy could possibly be totally different. However, you can also make physiological arguments both in favor of an extended stretching coaching historical past (leading to much less of a lower in maximal power and energy) or rising the lower in maximal power for energy, in comparison with individuals with no or a comparatively short-term stretching coaching historical past.

So, in case you have a stretching coaching historical past of a number of years and are actually desirous about expressing your maximal power and energy, you must in all probability err on the aspect of warning and never carry out stretching previous to your resistance coaching periods. Instead, carry out your stretching routine after the coaching session, because the impact of stretching on maximal power and energy is an acute impact, and stretching after the coaching session gained’t have any impact in your maximal power and energy within the following day’s coaching session.

It’s additionally vital to do not forget that the impact of stretching on maximal power and energy solely takes place within the muscle teams which might be stretched. This means you'll be able to stretch your legs proper earlier than an arm exercise and there wouldn’t be an impact on the utmost power and energy of your arms. I hope this offers you some steering regarding your stretching routine.

Reference:

Nelson AG, Kokkonen J, and Eldredge C. Strength inhibition following an acute stretch is just not restricted to novice stretchers. Res Quart Exerc Sport, 76:500-506.

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