I am reading Rippetoe, and I came across the following statements. I am learning how to squat, but I don't understand what is meant by the following:

The squat’s stretch-shortening cycle is important for three reasons:

  1. The stretch reflex stores energy in the viscoelastic components of the muscles and fascia, and this energy gets used at the turnaround out of the bottom.
  2. The stretch tells the neuromuscular system that a contraction is about to follow. This signal results in more contractile units firing more efficiently, enabling you to generate more force than would be possible without the stretch reflex.
  3. Because this particular loaded stretch is provided by the lowering phase of the squat (which uses all of the muscles of the posterior chain over their full range of motion), the subsequent contraction recruits many more motor units than would be recruited in a different exercise.
  • Welcome to the site! While homework style questions are not off topic, this is basically just a rewrite of the assignment. If you would like some explanation, you need to elaborate on what you understand, and what you don't. We are not here to do your assignments for you, but we would be happy to help try to explain points you are not clear on. However, you need to at least give us something to work with. – JohnP Oct 16 '18 at 14:26
  • This text is from "starting strength" by mark rippetoe. – Aashish Oct 17 '18 at 2:10
  • I have no clue what these points are saying. – Aashish Oct 17 '18 at 2:10
  • I'm learning how to squat. – Aashish Oct 17 '18 at 2:12

I'll try saying the same thing using slightly-different words:

  1. Some parts of the body work like a literal spring -- they store energy when they get stretched out, and provide a force to return to their usual state. Like an elastic band. This happens at the bottom of a squat and makes it easier to get started going back up. If you were morbid enough to make a fresh corpse do a squat, this effect would still happen, because it's a mechanical property of the materials.

  2. Beyond purely-mechanical effects, there's also some very complicated things happening with your nervous system. Some part of your brain is noticing that you're in a squat and is telling the muscles to get ready to stand back up again.

  3. I'm not really sure what he's saying here actually. I think maybe it's something like if you could imagine some other way to get into a squat position, like curling up into a ball on your back and then rolling over onto your feet somehow, well then that would use fewer muscles, and less effectively, than just squatting. But I'm mostly guessing on that one.

On a practical level, the easiest way to feel what's going on with this is to try some squats where you're "bouncing" out of the hole at the bottom, and then some other squats where you pause motionless at the bottom for a few seconds before ascending again. Unless you're trying to get certified as a coach, being able to feel the difference inside your own body between those two movements is going to be the most useful part of this for you (in my opinion.)

  • I am just trying to learn and train myself in correct form – Aashish Oct 19 '18 at 5:28
  • 1
    For 3, because the posterior chain is specifically mentioned, he may be addressing something like a leg press machine, pointing out that a squat recruits more muscles. – Dark Hippo Oct 19 '18 at 6:31

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