A Better Way to Stretch

Lat EQI

I get a lot of interest in eccentric quasi-isometrics (EQI’s) from both my online clients and people who read my blog, so I figured I’d write something up to help explain what they are and how I use them.

EQI’s are an active stretch – without getting into the nitty-gritty science behind them, our goal is to try and actively hold an isometric position (such as the midpoint of a dumbbell fly or split-squat) for an allotted period of time.  We generally start with 30 seconds, and work our way up to a 2 minute hold.  If they can get to 2 minutes, we start adding weight.

However, holding the midpoint position is impossible.  This is the “active” portion of the stretch – we’re trying our best not to move, but we slowly lower over time as fatigue sets in.

One of the keys with EQI’s is to stabilize our body appropriately.  If you’re sinking into a split-squat or Bulgarian Split-squat and you’re not stabilizing with your glutes and external obliques, you’re going to reinforce poor stabilization patterns (such as an anterior pelvic tilt and increased lumbar lordosis).

If you’re doing an EQI for the lats (as pictured above), you have to think about maintaining a neutral lumbar spine, versus allowing your lower back to arch excessively.

I often use EQI’s at the end of a workout.  Not only does it help restore a better resting length to specific muscles, but it also develops strength and stability in the end range of motion.

If you have a client that consistently tests stiff or short, consider placing an EQI at the end of their training sessions.  Do these for a few weeks, and then re-test.  If they are doing them appropriately, you should see a nice change.

Stay strong

MR

8 Comments

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  1. Mike,
    If someone has a significant amount of adhesions or trigger points, will EQI’s be able to partially reverse those without soft tissue intervention? Or would you need to get work done to make a dent into those first before the EQI’s would have much of an impact?

  2. I’m definitely not a soft-tissue expert, so I would have to defer to someone that is to give you a qualified answer.
    Maybe Bill, Patrick Ward or another soft-tissue expert who swings by could chime in?
    Thanks
    MR

  3. Arthur,
    One of the issues with “trigger points” is that they can be resistant to stretch. So, trying the EQI may ilicit some discomfort, or you may not even be able to get into a good stretch position (or you may get into that position in a way that re-enforces poor stabilization, as Mike talked about in the article).
    An example of this would be holding a chest fly EQI. If the pecs are riddled with ‘trigger points’, you wont be effectively getting into a stretch position, and you will probably just be creating a whole bunch of guarding or reflexive muscle contraction to prevent getting the arms back there (or you will excessively arch the lower back to ‘artificially’ get into the stretch position). Performing some soft tissue work prior to performing the EQI may get you a better result.
    Patrick

  4. Had first ever ART treatment on my shoulder (about time) & it made a world of difference to performance of Pec & Lat EQI’s. Love results from Bulgarian Split Squat EQI’s – not too comfy though hey 🙂

  5. Mike

    I want I start some of these stretches, I have reasonably good posture and core stability, and find that u get very little improvement from static stretching. EQI sounds like a good way to maintain a good posture and core stability. You mentioned starting at around 30 seconds and building up to 2 minutes. How long would you have between each stretch? holding an isometric position like this can be quite strenuous so I would imagine its nt something you want to be doing every session? also do you know of anywhere I can find more examples of EQI stretches?

    Regards
    Adam

    • Adam –

      If I’m doing both legs, I might take 60-90 seconds in between legs.

      If you want to look into EQI’s more, I’d read the CT book I mentioned in the log, along with Siff’s “Supertraining” as I believe they’re covered in there as well.

      Good luck!
      MR

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