For those of you who have attended our Skills Day on Thursdays or had the [mis]fortune to ask Marcus a seemingly innocuous mobility question, you may have experienced his expertise on stretching. You most likely had the pleasure of experiencing a particularly effective hamstring stretch involving a contract and relax cycle. This type of stretch is also called Propioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching.
We’ve mentioned before the goal of stretching a muscle is lengthening it. However, each muscle has an optimum length for maximizing tension. Dan Williams, of Range of Motion, posted a great series of articles (Part 1 and Part 2) about PNF stretching and why it’s effective. In Part 1, he talks about the difference between the lengthening of a muscle and useful lengthening of a muscle. For strength building purposes, we’re concerned with getting our muscles to the optimal length at which they can exert maximal tension (ie lift more weight). A muscle that is too long will have difficulty firing; a muscle too short is already tight and can’t produce much tension.
Dan Williams gives an example of an Athlete A who can just barely get to an overhead position with his arms. Athlete B is much more flexible and can hold his arms overhead with ease. Because Athlete A is so tight already, Williams likens him to a Ferrari with it’s hand brake on. The potential is there, but he’s unable to reach it until he gains enough flexibility.
In Part 2, he goes into detail about how to apply this stretch. Read more about it here.
Deadlift 1×5 or Wendler
2 Muscle Ups
4 Power Cleans
8 V Ups
4 Power Cleans
6 Toes 2 Bar
8 Push Ups