Maximum Strength for Triathletes

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Maximum Strength Q&A

This question recently popped up on an internet forum, and I thought it would make for good Q&A content, as readers often have similar questions once a book is released.

Q: I’ve had the book for a few days and although the program doesn’t fit into my current goals (I’m into triathlon season), I’ve looked it over and been impressed. Cressey is great in part because of his emphasis on long-term health, joint function, flexibility, etc. along WITH optimal performance. Most fitness folks go one way or another: either “pound your body into submission daily” or “wrap yourself in tea leaves and do restorative yoga”. Cressey manages to bridge the gap.

Along those lines, I don’t see any reference to post-workout stretching or cooling down anywhere in the book. Am I missing something? Not that I think it’s wrong not to stretch post-workout–I think that the chapter on warm-ups alone is well worth the price of the book–but if Cressey is saying that stretching and foam rolling pre-workout is sufficient for optimal health, that’s actually a fairly novel idea.

A: It isn’t that I’m against static stretching at all; in fact, I’m all for it when the timing is right. It’s just that, well, I’m a realist. I know what people will do and what they won’t do. The truth is that when you give people too much information, they choose to do nothing. So, you give them what you think is the right dosage and hope for adherence. Truthfully, people can get great results just with foam rolling and dynamic flexibility work – and the static stuff is icing on the cake (especially when you toss in the appropriate activation work and full ROM strength-training).

I think that the “static stretching is imperative” mentality was born in part out of the physical therapy community, but the tricky thing is that it’s tough to apply training principals from injured folks to those who are healthy. You can’t always do more dynamic mobilizations with those who are post-surgery or dealing with chronic pain; it’s too aggressive. So, you begin with gentle static stretches and gradually build toward mobility initiatives that best simulate activities of daily living and sports.

Additionally, the static stretching “mandate” may be related to the significant participation in endurance activities. Typically, endurance sports movements – most notably running and cycling – don’t involve a significant amount of amplitude (range of motion). So, range of motion drills take priority. Static stretching – like many endurance training principles – is relatively outdated. On the whole, many endurance athletes really haven’t appreciated that weight-training is important or that interval training often provides distinct advantages over added mileage – so it’s not surprising that some of their flexibility ideas may not be optimal even if they are effective.

All that said, you’ll notice a bit of static stretching incorporated into the warm-ups in the program.

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