Use the stretch shortening cycle: an active stretch followed by immediate contraction


The stretch shortening cycle (SSC) involves the utilization of stored energy and increased muscular force via the facilitation of neural pathways and retained elastic energy from passive structures.

Neural pathways involve the increase in muscle spindle activity of the pre-stretched muscle. If the stretch and tension becomes too great, the Golgi tendon organ will play an inhibiting role. As for tissues, fascia, non-contractile proteins, and tendon can all play a role in retaining stored energy (similar to a spring).

In order to optimize this process, the athlete has to reduce possible energy leaks and increase the used tissue. It is possible that both maximal strength at specific joint angles and intra/inter-muscular coordination can play a role in the development of the stretch shortening cycle. However, specific exercises, such as plyometrics, primarily emphasize the utilization of this process.

Sources:

1. Newton, R. U., Kraemer, W. J. (1994). Developing explossive muscle power: implications for a mixed methods training strategy. Strength and Conditioning, October(May 2016), 20–31.
2. Komi, P. V. (2003) Strength and Power in Sport, Second Edition (ed P. V. Komi), Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford, UK.

Part 3 of our 5 part series on explosive power by @strong_by_science.


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