The Latest Research on Stretching

We’ve all been conditioned to start any exercise with a good strrrrretch. What many people don’t know is that when it comes to warming up for a workout, stretching may not be the way to go.

The most common “old school” form of stretching is known as static stretching. In static stretching, you stretch a muscle to its farthest point and, using body weight or opposing muscle groups, hold a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Imagine being in gym class, wearing your gray sweatpants, reaching for your toes as far as you could go.

In the past, it was the norm to stretch this way before a workout. However, recent stretching research shows that static stretching is an ineffective way to prepare for exercise, as it doesn’t warm you up, prevent injury or enhance performance. In fact, static stretching before a workout can actually impede performance.  In an article published in the Journal of Sport Sciences, Rosenbaum and Hennig (vol. 13, no. 6) showed that static stretching prior to exercise reduced peak force by 5% and the rate of force production by 8%.

A better way to prepare for your Koko Smartrainer strength workouts is with a dynamic warm-up. A dynamic warm-up prepares your muscles for activity by warming them up through more natural movement, instead of stretching inactive muscles that are cold and stiff.  A simple dynamic warm-up is doing 5 minutes of cardio while moving your arms to get the blood pumping throughout your muscle groups. And, each Koko Cardio workout already includes a dynamic warm-up in each session.

So, before your next workout, skip the toe touches and, instead, hop on the treadmill or elliptical to get those muscles warmed up. Think of the dynamic warm-up as a way to turn on your nervous system. For more information, check out a great article from the NY Times.

Michael Wood, CSCS


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You Are About to Enter the Koko Zone

There is no quick fix for getting — and staying — in shape.  For real results, you must approach exercise as part of your everyday activities, just like eating and sleeping.  It must become part of your daily life.  Period.

Koko FitClub is designed to take all the guesswork out of exercise, making it easier for members to stick with a long-term fitness plan, one 30-minute workout at a time. Koko members enjoy working out more frequently, and typically see the following cumulative results:

1st Program: 19% improvement in strength after just 8-weeks of strength training (2-3x/week)
2nd Program: 25% improvement in strength after 16 weeks
3rd Program: 33% improvement in strength after 24 weeks

(To put that in perspective, in traditional strength training, 10% strength gain is considered excellent.)

From there, the body begins to adapt to its new found strength and begins to work as a more efficient machine. As you advance through your programs, these dramatic strength increases will begin to level off, and your body enters the “Koko Zone”.

The Koko Zone is when your body is functioning at its optimal level.  The goal is to work towards achieving your optimal strength, and then maintain these gains to combat the body’s natural tendency to lose muscle mass. Your body will benefit from increased muscle mass, and ligament and tendon strength, and as a result, it will burn calories more efficiently during exercise and at rest. This increase in muscle means a sharp increase to your metabolism.

It’s like cheating the aging process. If you were to stop training (see graph), you would eventually lose strength and detraining would occur. Some reports cite a 5-24% decrease in strength within 24 weeks of non-exercise.  Detraining can begin in as little as 2-3 weeks of non-activity and, from there, the body begins to lose lean tissue (muscle) at an increasingly faster rate.  Over time, this loss will negatively impact your body’s metabolism. The average person will lose 0.5 lbs. of muscle per year without strength training.  That may not sound like much, but over the course of a decade, that number equates to 5 lbs. of calorie-burning muscle that turns into fat tissue. With continued neglect, you could lose as much as 20-40% of healthy muscle tissue.  This is happening to the majority of adults in the U.S. who don’t exercise regularly.

So, the goal is to work hard, ramp up, and maintain that strong, healthy Koko Zone body to keep lean muscle tissue and have a strong, fat-burning metabolism. Stay on track with Koko and stay in the zone…the Koko Zone, that is!

Michael Wood, CSCS


About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer

Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.