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Isak

Does extreme flexibility correlate with increased strength?

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I once heard a quote from a gymnastics coach that I have been pondering ever since:
"If the strongest people in the world are stretching their @$$es off, why aren't you?"

..Well, because I don't see how stretching relates to force production and power output!
Of course I understand that some mobility is required to be strong - if I can't squat my rear end below parallel, strength in that movement is impossible.

But what about examples of extreme flexibility (full splits, perfect thoracic extension etc) combined with strength sports - would that added flexibility be of benefit?
I have heard of some olympic weightlifters doing this. Wonder if it helps them lift more weight by the end of the day, or if they achieve splits for some other reason.

What are your thoughts and experiences with this?

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12 hours ago, Isak said:

I once heard a quote from a gymnastics coach that I have been pondering ever since:
"If the strongest people in the world are stretching their @$$es off, why aren't you?"

Sounds like something Coach Sommer would say :lol:

I think you already know the answer to the question, though. You can develop strength and flexibility in tandem, or you can develop them separately. You develop strength within a certain range of motion, and it is within that range of motion that you will be able to express the strength. The reason gymnasts and weightlifters have incredible strength throughout a large range of motion is because their sports require those ranges of motion and that they be able to express their strength throughout those ranges of motion. These people that are "stretching their @$$es off" are using those ranges in their sport and training, which is very, very different from working on something like full splits and never actually using full splits outside of your stretching sessions.

When you think "I want to be able to [...]" it's always good to investigate why. If you're working on full splits so that you can do the full splits while you're working on full splits... well... :rolleyes: That said, "just for the heck of it" is a perfectly valid answer :D 

Also, just because...

 

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Theoretically, we might expect that extra flexibility can give extra strength, if we get extra flexibility because the sarcomeres grow longer. In this case, there would be opportunity for more actin-myosin crossbridges, so more force could be generated. However, there is some evidence that as a muscle becomes more flexible it grows extra sarcomeres. In this case, the force of contraction would stay the same, but the velocity of the contraction would increase (because the sarcomeres are in series, so twice as many in series means that the muscle as a whole would contract twice as fast). I have no idea what actually happens.

I did a quick Pubmed search. I cant be sure that I have found everything, because I have not used all the search terms possible. However, I came across this review, that says to increase the number of sarcomeres you need to increase the muscle fibres' intracellular calcium, which is best done by active stretch. Passive stretch just reduces muscle stiffness, most likely via effects on the connective tissue, unless the stretch is so great as to raise intracellular calcium (which I think is likely to cause soreness). In other words, the end-range contraction which has been talked about so much here is best for making functionally useful longer muscles. In the abstract of the review, these are just put as statements and I cant see the quality of the evidence behind them, as the paper is behind a paywall. Maybe someone who has access to the paywalled literature can share it.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22239873

Ta,

Jim.

Though this is partly relevant (in relation to reducing shortening, rather than lengthening from normal): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22334171

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The short answer is yes. Even just passive stretching triggers a hypertrophy response, but eccentric training is more effective at it. Adding additional sarcomeres in series (as opposed to in parallell with regular strength training) is one mechanism as stated above.

I'd recommend two in-depth articles with references explaining the mechanics of it:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/stretch-mediated-28195943

https://medium.com/@SandCResearch/how-does-the-length-tension-relationship-affect-hypertrophy-b0cc78043973

 

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On 8/28/2019 at 11:30 PM, Isak said:

"If the strongest people in the world are stretching their @$$es off, why aren't you?"

What are your thoughts and experiences with this?

I just think he said this to sell his stretching programs and to trigger you ;-) Keep in mind that this guy teaches gymnasts and not powerlifters. So those "strongest people" probably aren't even the strongest people :-)

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