T Nation

Stretching During Workouts

What kind of stretches are you into?

I am curious about loaded stretches. Having always done flexibility stretches after my workouts, and felt reassured this was good after reading it in the Fortitude Training book (appearantly taken from DC-training).

I first heard about the possible importance of stretches directly after a set in the mid 90-ties, by earlier pro bodybuilder Lance Gille. Meaning that the stretch gave the muscle room to grow in the muscle sheath, making comparisons to a banana for some reason (LOL). I wonder where he got this tip from, since it sounds a bit prehistoric?

Does anyone here know the origin of such claims? Interworkout stretches seem to hold some merit.

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John Parrillo was the first guy I recall advocating this back in the day because it stretched the fascia. Poliquin appeared to endorse this too for the same reason. I believe since then there has been more evidence-based material that has come to light suggesting additional growth pathways, e.g. enhanced mTOR and IGF-1 response, occlusion effect, etc. I incorporate them as part of DC training and I believe it is primarily responsible for the level of DOMS I subsequently experience.

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Loaded stretching works for hypertrophy

A loaded stretch is basically just an isometric contraction at the lengthened position of a muscle. This has been shown to result in strength gains across the full range of motion of the muscle, and it stimulates hypertrophy via muscle damage

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Do you have any knowledge on “loading” parameters? Would it be similar to the basic info regarding TUT for hypertrophy?

To my knowledge, there aren’t strong recommendations for load, as long as the set is subjectively challenging.Time per stretch has mostly been researched in the 0-60s bracket. Within this bracket:

  • 2-7s is best for strength.
  • 15-45s is good for hypertrophy
  • 30-60s is good for improving tendon thickness (if managing tendinopathy, for example)

Of course, there is a lot of grey area between these zones.

Also, just because this is the bracket that has recieved the most research, doesn’t necessarily mean it is the be-all and end-all. There are many great coaches such as Cal Dietz, Joel Smith, Tommy John, Jay Schroeder and Grant Fowler who routinely do loaded stretches for 3-5 minutes. They often cite hypertrophy; improved local muscular endurance and lactate buffering; increased range of motion; improved recovery and mental “sharpness” as major adaptations from such training. I’ve tried it. It’s unbelievably brutal.

Finally, it’s important to differentiate adaptations between overcoming and yielding isometrics. An overcoming isometric is one where you push against an immovable object, whereas a yielding isometric is holding a constant load in a static position. From a nervous system standpoint, there is evidence to suggest that an overcoming isometric is more “concentric,” whilst a yielding isometric is more “eccentric”. Overcoming isometrics are a little bit safer at higher outputs because there is no risk of a weight “crushing” you. Yielding isometrics are better for longer durations because they do not allow your force output to drop as you fatigue (lest you drop the weight). Thus, the “strength” isometrics are best done in an overcoming fashion, the 15-60s isometrics could be done in either fashion and the very long isometrics are best done in a yielding fashion.

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What?!

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Yep, although it’s usually bodyweight-only. Hangs, push-ups, dips and lunges are common

I’m using bands a lot more for loaded stretching and noted a significant increase in DOMS compared to free weights. For example, for chest, I anchor bands to the wall to create a cable crossover setup. I take a seat, let the bands pull my arms back and slightly up, and enjoy the pain. You then lean forward to Increase the tension as you get more into the stretch. Similarly, for shoulders, I create a handcuff effect, both hands behind the back, band pulling them upwards while I sit, cursing police brutality! I do something of the reverse with a low anchor point for an overhead triceps stretch in the bottom position.

That said, for lats, nothing beats a hang stretch, for quads, the sissy squat stretch.

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I don’t know a ton about it but I am not afraid of static stretching inbetween sets as a means to relax a muscle and increase range of motion. I know static stretches seem old-school but for me there’s a sweet spot at 1-2 minutes where all of a sudden the muscle will relax, and I know the stretch is over with.

Holding the bottom of a pushup for that duration helped my shoulder out quite a bit

“Old school” doesn’t have to mean “incorrect”, fortunately. Unfortunately, people seem to have forgotten that.

People discount stretching stretching for it’s injury prevention capabilities now, but as @j4gga2 mentioned, at it’s simplest stretching (especially under some load) is just an isometric contraction. And those have been used in rehab for ages.

And on the relaxation part, in his book “Relax Into Stretch” (aptly named), Pavel talks about how to really reap the benefits of a stretch, relaxation is key. If you’re too tense, you’re not going achieve much ROM at all.

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I know that I can be a bit lazy on this but I do a few basic stretches after my workout. It seems to help calm me down and increase blood flow to my muscles. I’m not 100% sure if it makes a difference because I’ve read studies on both sides. I can tell there’s a difference so I do like to stretch. Resistance training, bodybuilding, and strength training for me is more of an art than a science. I think most would benefit from thinking about it that way.

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