Stretching a Cold Muscle

Q: I'm still confused about stretching on non-workout days. Do you suggest people not stretch a cold muscle? If so, should the individual perform a few minutes of light cardio or take a warm shower before performing PNF/static stretching?

A: Performing light cardio or taking a warm shower or bath prior to stretching will facilitate the process but isn't absolutely necessary. Keep in mind the following points:

About 10-15 seconds of contractions raises body temperature by 1ºC and a proper warm-up should raise body temp by 1-2ºC (1.4 to 2.8ºF) to cause a light sweat.

• A warm-up should improve performance, not cause fatigue or excessive sweating.

In fact, you should be able to perform at full throttle without a warm-up!

• And here’s something else to consider, how specific is a stationary cycle as an upper body warm-up?

I'm currently working on an article series for T-Nation detailing effective warm-up techniques for strength training. Look for it in the future!

[This Q&A piece originally appeared in T-Nation on Jan. 6, 2005 and can be accessed online at http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=541537.]