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Strength helps stretch


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I've been off-line for the last 2 weeks, so I hope I'm not repeating old news, but this came up on y Facebook feed today:




I've long been aware of the excellent dance science of AusDance, and the ways in which the Australian Ballet has implemented the results of research eg the use of heel raises in parallel between the barre & the centre, and NOT stretching at that point. Here's a further interesting application of body science research to ballet training.


Happy New Year and lots of dancing for 2019!

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Arnold Schwarzenegger mentions in his Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding (still a valuable resource 35 years after publication) stretch overload is an important part of strength training.


Arnold was a master at getting the most muscle-building potential from every set, and that often included stretch overload. The way he trained calves is a prime example. If you see photos of when he first arrived in the USA, his calves were lagging behind most of his other muscle groups. He points this out in his encyclopedia. Arnold was using a few hundred pounds on a variety of calf raises, but when he trained with Reg Parks, who was known to train very heavy, he was shocked to see his mentor load 1,000 pounds on the calf machine and continue to grind out movement until he could barely budge the massive load. Reg’s calves also just happened to be quite huge.


Arnold began to apply his observations immediately and was soon using 1,000 pounds on his calf raises. The key here, however, is that he wouldn’t stop a set just because he could no longer get all the way to the top. When he couldn’t do anymore full reps, he would simply force the weight up as high as he could, usually just above the stretch point, and continue with partials until the muscles could no longer fire.


So if you want faster mass gains, (which dancers don't) try blasting out power partials near the bottom of certain exercises, like close to the bottom of a bench press or calf raise, at the end of a set. That’s where you can overload the target muscle right at its point of maximum force generation. Stretch overload without huge weights will build strength but not huge size. I find working through the full range of motion of a joint very beneficial on my visits to the gym. This helps with my ballet too.

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