Stretch Shortening Cycle

Want to get bigger overloads in your power training?  Then you better understand the stretch shortening cycle. 

I remember when I was in high school trying to drop weight for wrestling. Our heavy weight would sit in the front seat of the car. Another wrestler and I would push the car in neutral for a couple of blocks, work up a sweat, and then jump into the car with the heater on wearing rubber sweats. Sitting here today this sounds crazy, but wrestlers are a little crazy.

When we were getting the car moving I remember leaning back as far as possible and then pushing into the car. What I did not realize at the time is why we would do this. By leaning back I was loading the opposing muscle group (antagonist) so that I would take advantage of the elastic effect of the muscle stretching and then subsequently shortening so that we could get the car moving from a dead stop. The farther I could lean back, the greater the pre-load stretch of the muscle.

This is called the Stretch Shortening Cycle. Your body will produce more power by pre-loading (stretch/shortening) those opposing muscles so that more power can be produced. As you train more the ability to load becomes greater and greater. I call this getting fit enough to get really fit. So be patient and take advantage of this natural choreography of muscles to get better and better at moving your body through space.

Truth in Fitness:
Jacques DeVore CSCS