It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s Super-Stiffness!
Okay, before you start to get the wrong idea this post is not going to be about an all-natural “male enhancement” pill that you see on TV at 3 in the morning. So what is super-stiffness then? Super stiffness is the idea of creating as much tension as possible during an exercise in our body and joints.
I first learned about super-stiffness while doing my internship with Greg Streblow a strength coach and physical therapist in Cortland, NY.
How does super-stiffness help certain exercises?
Super-stiffness helps by preventing a thing called energy leaks. During an exercise you want to create as much force as you can in a certain direction to move whatever you are trying to move whether it be a dumbbell, your body, or a weight stake on the cable machine. Energy leaks occur when super-stiffness is not created and not all of the force is produced in the right direction.
If you remember back from middle school science class one of Newton’s Laws was that energy is never created nor lost. In this case during exercise if super-stiffness is not created often times the lost energy is going to go into unwanted joints and other structures such as tendons and ligaments. This energy over time can lead to some pain and discomfort in joints such as backs and knees.
Here are a few examples of how super-stiffness can help certain exercises
½ Kneeling Landmine press
In this exercise you can notice during the first few reps super-stiffness was not created. Notice the large arch in my back. A way I created stiffness was by adding a tennis ball in the opposite hand and focusing on a strong and tight half kneeling position. These helped me become super-stiff and gave me the energy used to press the bar towards the celling.
During the squat video if super-stiffness is not created you will notice my knees caving in towards each other. This will cause energy leaks and add unwanted stress to the knee joints. During the next few reps focusing on spreading the floor with my feet super-stiffness was created and all the energy was used to stand up tall and tight.
During the first two reps on the deadlift super-stiffness is not created and my back is extremely rounded at the bottom and over arched at the top. During the second two reps trying to break the kettle bell with my hands creates super-stiffness. My back is in a much safer position so all my energy can be used to drive my heels through the floor. At the end I finish tall and tight.