Maximal Strength, Number of Repetitions, and Stretching
Maximal Strength, Number of Repetitions, and Total Volume Are Differently Affected by Static-, Ballistic-, and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching
Barroso, R, Tricoli, V, dos Santos Gil, S, Ugrinowitsch, C, and Roschel, H. Maximal strength, number of repetitions, and total volume are differently affected by static-, ballistic-, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching. J Strength Cond Res 26(9): 2432–2437, 2012—Stretching exercises have been traditionally incorporated into warm-up routines before training sessions and sport events. However, the effects of stretching on maximal strength and strength endurance performance seem to depend on the type of stretching employed. The objective of this study was to compare the effects of static stretching (SS), ballistic stretching (BS), and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching on maximal strength, number of repetitions at a submaximal load, and total volume (i.e., number of repetitions × external load) in a multiple-set resistance training bout. Twelve strength-trained men (20.4 ± 4.5 years, 67.9 ± 6.3 kg, 173.3 ± 8.5 cm) volunteered to participate in this study. All of the subjects completed 8 experimental sessions. Four experimental sessions were designed to test maximal strength in the leg press (i.e., 1 repetition maximum [1RM]) after each stretching condition (SS, BS, PNF, or no-stretching [NS]). During the other 4 sessions, the number of repetitions performed at 80% 1RM was assessed after each stretching condition. All of the stretching protocols significantly improved the range of motion in the sit-and-reach test when compared with NS. Further, PNF induced greater changes in the sit-and-reach test than BS did (4.7 ± 1.6, 2.9 ± 1.5, and 1.9 ± 1.4 cm for PNF, SS, and BS, respectively). Leg press 1RM values were decreased only after the PNF condition (5.5%, p < 0.001). All the stretching protocols significantly reduced the number of repetitions (SS: 20.8%, p < 0.001; BS: 17.8%, p = 0.01; PNF: 22.7%, p < 0.001) and total volume (SS: 20.4%, p < 0.001; BS: 17.9%, p = 0.01; PNF: 22.4%, p < 0.001) when compared with NS. The results from this study suggest that, to avoid a decrease in both the number of repetitions and total volume, stretching exercises should not be performed before a resistance training session. Additionally, strength-trained individuals may experience reduced maximal dynamic strength after PNF stretching.
Stretching exercises as part of a warm-up routine are a common practice among trainers and athletes. Trainers should be aware that not only the stretching protocol performed but also the training statuses of the athletes play a role in its effect upon the neuromuscular performance. Strength-trained athletes are less prone to the negative effects of acute stretching on maximal strength and hence should avoid high-intensity protocols such as the PNF in their maximum strength training sessions.
However, when the training session includes multiple sets of resistance exercise (i.e., hypertrophy-oriented training sessions), trainers should avoid any stretching protocol, including the BS because stretching may result in a reduced number of repetitions performed with a submaximal load and lower total volume (i.e., number of repetitions ×external load), thus affecting long-term resistance training adaptations.