Stretch shorten cycle performance enhancement through flexibility training
Sixteen experienced male powerlifters served as subjects in a training study designed to examine the effect of flexibility training on: (i) the stiffness of the series elastic components (SEC) of the upper body musculature and (ii) rebound and purely concentric bench press performance. Nine of the subjects participated in two sessions of flexibility training twice per week for 8 wk. Prior to and after the training period the subjects' static flexibility, SEC stiffness, rebound bench press (RBP), and purely concentric bench press (PCBP) performance were recorded. The flexibility training induced a significant reduction in the maximal stiffness of the SEC. Furthermore, the experimental subjects produced significantly more work during the initial concentric portion of the RBP lift, enabling a significantly greater load to be lifted in the post-training testing occasion. The benefits to performance achieved by the experimental group consequent to flexibility training were greater during the RBP lift as compared with the PCBP lift. The control subjects exhibited no change in any variable over the training period. These results implied that the RBP performance enhancement observed consequent to flexibility training was directly caused by a reduction in SEC stiffness, increasing the utilization of elastic strain energy during the RBP lift.