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Daniel P. Heistand1 & Adam J. Bruenger1 1Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, AR

The act of extensive (e.g. 4 x 30 s) stretching immediately prior to muscular strength, power, and endurance activities has been shown to reduce performance. Minimal stretching (e.g., 1 x 30 s) has shown more equivocal results. No known studies have evaluated if single sets of stretching performed between sets of an exercise have a cumulative effect on muscle endurance. PURPOSE: To determine if stretching between sets of bench press reduces the number of repetitions that can be performed. METHODS: 11 participants (9 male (M), 2 female (F)) (Mean: age (M) 21.4 y, (F) 22.5 y, 1RM (M) 271 lbs, (F) 133 lbs) completed 3 bench press workouts of 4 sets to failure at 75% of 1RM with 3 min of recovery between sets. During each session participants were randomly assigned to: 1) No stretching (NS), 2) 4 x 30 s of chest and triceps stretches prior to the workout (IS), 3) 1 x 30s chest and triceps stretches prior to each set (BS). Repetitions completed after the first set and total repetitions were evaluated with repeated measures ANOVAs and LSD post-Hoc tests. Alpha level was set at p < 0.05. RESULTS: IS resulted in significantly (p = 0.01) less repetitions of the first set compared to BS. NS allowed for significantly more total repetitions to be completed than IS (p < 0.01) and BS (p < 0.02) (Figure 1). CONCLUSION: This study evaluated if the undesirable effects of extensive stretching could be mitigated by integrating the stretching between sets. The results suggest stretching between sets using single stretches has the same effect on muscle endurance as performing 4 sets stretching prior to lifting. However, participants were able to complete the same number of repetitions in the first set after performing single 30 s stretches as when they did not stretch. Although the difference in repetitions completed during the first set and total repetitions is small, this difference could have an impact on cumulative training. The results suggest that stretching should be performed after completion of the workout.

See supplemental content for graphics.

Figure 1.docx (52 kB)
Figure 1

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