Resistance Stretching

Steve Sierra, Anne Tierney, Dara Torres
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Athletic Stretch , Sports Specific Training

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NOTE: I received a free copy of this DVD to review for the web site

Although Olympic Swimmer Dara Torres is featured on the cover of this 2-DVD set, Resistance Stretching was actually developed by Anne Tierney and Steve Sierra, co-founders of Innovative Body Solutions. In the introductory chapters of the first disc, Anne and Steve explain that Resistance Stretching is the process of resisting during the stretch. In other words, it involves taking the muscle from the shortest position to the longest position while contracting the muscle at the same time, which is also referred to as the “e-centric” phase of strength training.

In the first disc of this set, Anne and Steve break down their method in detail. Included on this disc is an almost one-hour tutorial thoroughly explaining all seventeen self-stretches in their program. Chapters 3, 5, and 6 each serve to assist with problem solving and modifications, either through learning how to work agonist/antagonist muscles, incorporating modifications for tight hamstrings, or building up strength to improve flexibility.

The Main Menu for Disc 1 is as follows; all times (in parentheses) are approximate:

Play All
Chapter 1, Introduction to Resistance Stretching (3m; with Dara Torres)
Chapter 2, Basic Principles: Resistance (6m)
Chapter 3, Basic Principles: Balancing Muscle Groups (8.5m)
Chapter 4, Master 17 Self-Stretches (55.5m; Anne & Steve modeling/instructing alternately)
Chapter 5, Problem-Solving for Tight Hamstrings (2.5m)
Chapter 6, Correlation Between Strength and Stretching (3m)

The self-stretches are broken down into lower body and upper body. The first nine, for the lower body, are demonstrated by Anne with Steve instructing via voiceover, while the last eight, for upper body, are modeled by Steve with Anne providing the cues. Here is the complete list of exercises, with the names appearing as they do on-screen (note: Anne and Steve sometimes refer to the exercises by different names):

Lower Body
1. Medial Hamstring
2. Central Hamstring
3. Outer (lateral) Hamstring
4. Lateral Quadriceps (includes IT band & glutes)
5. Inner Thigh
6. Outer Thigh (glutes)
7. Groin (seated)
8. Hip Flexors (lunge)
9. Calves

Upper Body
1. Chest, Shoulders, & Biceps (push-ups with emphasis on lowering)
2. Shoulders & Traps
3. Shoulders & Back
4. Shoulders, Back, & Neck (scaption)
5. Triceps, Lats, & Obliques
6. Chest, Biceps, & Forearms
7. Traps, Neck, & Side of Shoulder
8. Chest, Shoulder, & Biceps

In the demonstration of the self-stretches, Anne and Steve first work the muscle through more traditional strength training—i.e., taking the muscle from the long to short position. Next, they move through the resistance stretch, doing just the opposite by taking the muscle from the short to long position while also engaging in resistance. Finally, they perform what they call “aerobic” training for the muscle, meaning that they take the muscle through strength training followed immediately by resistance stretching, keeping a constant contraction on the muscle and completing approximately six total repetitions.

Disc 2 offers a complete resistance stretching workout with Dara Torres. This 20-minute workout includes all seventeen of the self-stretches introduced on Disc 1, but the entire routine is performed in an aerobic fashion. Dara models the exercises alone while Anne and Steve again take turns instructing via voiceover. Prior to the start of the workout, Dara provides a very brief introduction sharing her success with this method of training and suggesting props to have nearby (a mat and a small pillow or foam block to support the head). Compared to the tutorial, the pace of this workout is quite rapid. Although it felt a bit too fast the first time through, the short length is likely to be beneficial for adding this stretching routine to the end of a cardio or strength workout.

I actually already incorporate some types of resistance stretching through other workout DVDs that I own (for example, the Classical Stretch series by Miranda Esmonde-White). However, Anne and Steve definitely present a unique approach that is apt to be beneficial, and in Dara Torres, they have an appealing, likeable spokesperson. Although this method is appropriate for virtually all levels, I do think that it is likely to appeal most to those who are already active and/or who have an athletic background. However, I would recommend this DVD set for anyone who is interested in gently working towards increasing their flexibility as well as improving their overall health and fitness levels.

Instructor Comments:
In general, both Anne and Steve do a good job instructing, although they do not mirror cue (most of the time, this is not an issue, as the majority of the exercises, at least for the lower body, are lying down). Steve's speech tends to be a bit more clipped--sort of what I would think of as a street accent, but others might not notice. There are times in the Tutorial when I think they each over-explain a bit, and yet other times, when it is less obvious exactly which is the short vs. the long position of the muscle (eg, it's more obvious with a simple hamstring or bicep curl), that I would have liked them to slow down and explain a bit further. Overall, however, I thought they instructed well.

Beth C (aka toaster)