Monthly Archives: July 2014
One of the questions I get asked most often as a Personal Trainer is whether stretching is good before or after a workout. I recently came across an article in the May 2013 IDEA Fitness Journal entitled “Stretching’s Impact on Strength.” You can interpret the conclusion as you wish, but I thought I’d share the research so you can make an educated decision about your workout and get the most out of your strength gains with a stretching session PRE-workout (it does not examine the post workout stretch at all).
To stretch or not to stretch for improved strength is a question that endures. Some support the practice; others don’t. A new study may have put the debate to rest.
Published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2012; doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31828054b7), the study aimed to determine what impact – if any – stretching would have on stren gth production. The researchers employed three procedures: a warm-up plus static stretching before each session; a stretch prior to each training set; and no stretch at all throughout the session. Thirty participants were divided among the three groups for 10 weeks. The strength component featured eight exercise performed at an 8-repetition maximum. The researchers measured strength levels and basal serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1 – which is an anabolic agent that is released mostly from the liver, and occasionally from the bone, fat cells, testes and heart to stimulate tissue growth) before and after the intervention. Final data revealed strength improvements across all exercise for the no-stretch group, but only in some exercises for both stretching groups. The no-stretch group also showed increases in IGF-1 post exercise, whereas the others did not.
The authors concluded that strength can improve with a pre-stretch, an in-workout stretch or no stretch at all – but in this study, the most significant impact on both strength and IGF-1 occurred in the no stretch group.