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The Worst Kind of Stretching Before Plyometrics

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Headed to the gym for a plyometric workout? Before you start your jump training, you'll want to stretch—but it may only be beneficial if you’re doing the dynamic kind (like some of these 6 Active Stretches You Should Be Doing). If your go-to lengtheners are static—where you simply hold one position for a set length of time—you’d be better off skipping the stretch session altogether, at least according to a new study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research

When researchers had participants hold 30- or 60-second static stretches, the first group saw no benefit on their subsequent plyometric routine compared to those who skipped the warm-up entirely. What's more, the 60-second-hold group actually saw a decrease in their performance! “Static stretching doesn't serve a big purpose for most people who are working out because it doesn’t enhance our range of motion, which is what we need to do before activities that require power and speed like plyometrics,” says exercise physiologist Marni Sumbal, R.D., owner of TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition.

While the researchers didn't test dynamic stretches, Sumbal suspects if they had, they may have seen a positive boost in their plyometric routine compared to the no-warm-up group. (Try these 3 Unexpected Ways to Improve Your Workout.) “Dynamic stretching helps get your blood pumping and allows us to improve that range of motion, plus flexibility, so muscles can lengthen and contract more efficiently, helping you perform better in the following plyometric routine,” she says.

Plyometrics are a very dynamic, high intensity, complex exercise, adds Sumbal, so your best bet is to warm up with less intense activities that mimic what you’re about to do. For example, if you’re going to do high knees, you could march in place as part of a smart dynamic warmup. The absolute best way to stretch before your next plyometrics routine, according to Sumbal, is to do five to 10 minutes of dynamic stretches like skipping, bounding, walking lunges, knee hugs, and butt kicks. Then you'll kick butt through the rest of your workout.

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