Q: Is it okay to stretch before a workout?
A: I get this question all the time, and the answer depends on the type of stretching. If you’re talking about static stretching, the answer is no. Static stretching temporarily weakens the muscles and as such increases the risk of injury. Studies have shown that the resultant decreases in maximum strength and power range from 7 to 20 percent—and who wants to compete at only 80 to 93 percent?
Rather than doing static stretching, you can use ballistic (also known as dynamic) stretching before training. With this type of stretching, I prefer the pendulum approach, in which you gradually increase both the range and the velocity of the stretch.
Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit www.CharlesPoliquin.com. Also, see his ad on the opposite page. IM