By Doc Goody.
The most frequently asked question in the fitness world is “what exercise delivers the best results”. That’s a very complex question that is actually the answer, and I say this because we often focus on the variety of movements vs. the root word, exercise. Exercising is what works best for you, finding what method is your only concern.
There are literally hundreds of exercise methodologies out there and all of them are “the best” that deliver “the best” results, but which ones really are the best? The answer is simple; the one you’ll do every day and stick with. If you’ve ever picked up a fitness magazine you know that in 12 months of production, there will be 12 articles on the absolute best way to achieve 6-pack abs, bigger arms, stronger chest, etc. Wait, what?! If they are “the best”, how can there be 12 “bests”? The answer is quite simple, we’re all different people and what works for you might not work for me, so of the 12 different methodologies provided to you, the best one for you is the one you stick with and complete. Voila, we’ve solved the “which exercise is best for me” dilemma.
Now we’ll delve a little deeper and talk specifically about ballistic (explosive, fast movements) vs. static (slow, controlled movements) exercises and how they benefit your body. Notice I didn’t say, “which one is best for you”, because only you can determine this based on your fitness goals. I personally do both ballistic and static movements in a variety of ways. I lift heavy, I lift light, I do HIIT training and I do a lot of bodyweight reps. My fitness goals and needs demand my body to be a combo of explosively fast with the strength to deliver.
I don’t want to have a Hulk body with deconditioned lungs, so I compromise a little size and take the best of both worlds. But again, that’s what works best for me and my fitness goals. I’m not going to influence you either way, I’m simply going to provide the accurate information you need to make your choice and hit your goals that much faster by contouring your exercises to meet your needs. A prime example of the most multifaceted performance athlete is a Navy SEAL. Not only is becoming a SEAL one of the most difficult accomplishments in existence, but the training is not for the faint of heart or quitters. The preparation required to take on this training is intense, but the training itself is in a whole new realm of intensity. BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL) training uses an intricate, scientific series of methodologies to create the perfect combination of superior strength, unheard of stamina and elastic agility.
All of these attributes are needed to equip a SEAL operator to handle the nation’s most dangerous and vital missions. At the end of the day, this is still exercise in its most primitive form. Navy SEAL training guru, Stew Smith, uses only a few basic movements such as push/pull exercises to condition his entire body. He also uses both ballistic and static movements, as does BUD/S training, to create the ultimate performance athlete.
Now that we’ve covered ballistic and static exercises, let’s talk about ballistic vs. static stretching to better understand how each movement works inside our bodies at the muscular level. Understanding how these stretches work will also help us understand how the exercises impact our muscles. **Note** We are not discouraging ballistic exercise movements, but we are educating you to the potential risks associated with. Explosive, ballistic movements can and will benefit your fitness, but understanding how to progress and the associated dangers of the higher propensity for injury is important.
Please welcome Bridget Gates, PTA of Coastal Physical Therapy Services, LLC:
Before we delve into the mechanics of stretching we should start off by mentioning the automatic or involuntary response to a stimulus which affects the way the body will respond to the type of stretching you chose to perform. Understanding the complex workings of reflexes will give you a much better understanding of how stretching works and functions.
This is a very complex subject and will not be explained in full detail for this article due to the heavy involvement of the nervous system. The myotatic stretch reflex prevents a muscle from becoming overstretched protecting the muscle from tearing or being overstretched, which can result in injury and/or destabilization of a joint. Proprioceptors are located in the muscle spindles whose job is to monitor length and tension. When a muscle lengthens unexpectedly the reaction is to tighten or contract to protect itself.
The inverse stretch reflex is different than the above reflex in that the receptors are located in the muscles tendinous junction, which attaches the muscle to the bone. The receptors here are called the Golgi Tendon Organs whose job is to monitor the load on the actively contracting muscle causing the muscle to become inhibited or relaxed which is a protective function. If this did not happen the result could cause a tear.
The GTO’s also help to control speed, coordination, and precise joint movements by sending information to the spinal cord. So what is the best way to stretch? As with everything else, it depends. Static stretching is a safe and effective way to lengthen a muscle without firing the stretch reflex. This is performed by slowly moving into a position and holding it for approximately 15-60 seconds depending on your tolerance.
As the feeling of stretch diminishes you can move into the stretch more deeply. The pull should be felt in the belly of the muscle and not the joint. Of course you are also warming up before stretching to increase blood flow and heat improving muscle tissue extensibility. Ballistic stretching is a quick rapid, bouncing movement used to forcefully elongate a targeted muscle. This is not the preferred method of stretching due to the involvement of the stretch reflex, which can leave the muscle shorter than when you started. This method is said to cause twice the tension of the static stretching method, which leaves one at risk for tearing, or instability of a joint. The external force used opposes the internal shortening force produced by the stretch reflex.
BIO: Shawn Goodwin, HM2 Navy Corpsman of 7 years with multiple deployments in both hostile and non-hostile zones. Deployed ISO 5th Group SF & 98th Division “Blacksheep” as medical augment.
Duty stations include:
-II MEF CBIRF (ISO Presidential Operations)
-Guantanamo Bay Cuba ISO HUMINT / Detainee Ops
-Command Fitness Leader