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Stretching Between Sets; Bad or Good?


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So today I was doing my normal squat routine and even after doing my normal stretches I felt super tight; I could barely get below parallel on my first couple warmup sets. SO I add my first set of weights to the bar and sit down to try stretching my piriformis (Ive noticed that it gets abnormally tight whenever I workout so I figured it couldnt hurt.) Bam, after stretching that out I noticed an immediate difference; my glutes/lower body felt looser, I was able to squat deeper, my hip hurt less (I tend to have pain on the outer part of the hip when I squat; right above where the "point" of the hipbone is), all around good. Im just curious if pausing to stretch between warmup sets is hurting the purpose of the warmup, namely preparing the muscles for whatever exercise you are doing. Thanks in advance guys, always helpful stuff from this board ^.^

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Yup, it's generally a good idea to stretch a some during warmups/regular sets. Everyone is different and some days you are tighter/not as loose as others. So yeah, stretch, warmup, pause at hte bottom of squats, shake out those legs, do what ever you need to to be able to feel good when moving weight :) 

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I don't squat well until after I start my first working squats.

 

if you were to watch me squat the bar- and my first two warm up weights- you'd think I had no idea what I was doing (well I mean people could think that after I started squatting as well) but the reality is I just am to much *everything* tight- stiff- pain- floppy- my body just isn't ready.  I'm on my toes- I can't get to parallel- nothing is where it's supposed to be and I can't hold myself hardly up right.  It's just not.pretty. 

 

So I do a 3-5 min jump rope.

Bar work

full moblity stretch

warm up weight

more stretch

First set- which is still warm up weight. 

 

By the time I get passed the second warm up weight- I'm usually squatting significantly better. 

 

 

Keep in mind- every day you have to ask yourself- what body did I wake up with today?  Because you may be more flexible- or less today than you were yesterday. You maybe stronger today- or less than you were yesterday.  Every day it's different.   Go in and do your best- but allow your body to have some wiggle room and listen to it. 

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Stretching limits you max strength output so I wouldn't do it between your work sets- opt for some form of myofascial release instead (foam roller, lacrosse ball, barbell)- but in your warm-up and warm-up sets, I definitely would. No good lifting weights if you can't do it with a full range of motion.

For squats, I love sitting in the hole with a kettlebell and using my elbows to push my knees out (I generally do 3x3 with a 15-20 second pause at the bottom of each rep). Combine that with a good couch stretch and you'll be hitting depth with no worries.

"No-one tells a T-Rex when to go to sleep".

- Jim Wendler

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What you describe is exactly the correct case where stretching is helpful: If your range of motion would otherwise be limited.

 

Stretching during warm ups sounds reasonable, but when switching to heavy weights, you should work with whatever mobility you have by then. The weight will do the rest (squatting deep with a heavy weight will strech your tight spots further).

 

If you really feel super tight, do more warm up sets and more light stretches. Especially dynamic stretches are really nice additions to a warm up.

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Static stretching has been shown to decrease power output for those muscles by a not-marginal amount for a good time after the stretching. Dynamic (moving) stretching, like warm ups sets with a lighter weight, does not have the same effect. Instead of statically stretching the main working muscles, it' s better to add more warm-ups sets in the begninning and keep doing them until you're nice and loose and firing, adding other movements for muscles that aren't loosening up with the warm up sets as needed, and only then moving to the working sets.

 

For me, I have the same issue with squats sometimes. There are days where I do 135x8 (this is my lowest warm up set, other can use just the bar) for 4-5 sets if I need to in order to loosen everything up. I might add in good mornings with just the bar on top of them if my back isn't loosening. Only once all tihgtness is gone do I start adding weight to work up to my working sets.

 

Since your issue is with one of the smaller muscles that isn't doing a large percentage of the work, yeah, stretching it or otherwise mashing it between warm ups to get your ROM working right is just fine. If it was your glutes or quads that were tight, I would say try something like more warm-ups or foam rolling first.

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For me, my Hamstrings are always tight when squatting, which is usually my first lift (StrongLifts 5x5) for the day.  After I do some light jogging (5ish min), jumping jacks and windmills, I'll do 10 bodyweight squats, 10 with the bar.  Then I'll do a quick stretch by bending over, grabbing my toes (have to bend my knees a bit still), and drop my hips down into a deep squatting position.  My arms will be on the inside of my knees and I'll press out on my knees with my arms.  I don't hold the position for more than 1 or 2 seconds.  I'll this about 8-10 times.  From there I'll work up the weight on the bar to whatever my working set is for the day.

 

Deep-Squats-and-Hamstring-Stretch.png

 

Between sets I just walk around.

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