Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about muscle stretch and how it is uniquely anabolic. What is the best way to build mass with this information—a freehand stretching routine?
A: While freehand stretching routines can do okay things for muscle growth, a much more effective mass-building route is doing a workout of all stretch-position exercises with weights.
That way every bodypart will get the anabolic acceleration of stretch overload against resistance. That works gives you a blast of new mass because…
1) It provides a traumatic overload (stretch moves produce damage, especially at the muscle insertion—you will get sore)
2) It can cause anabolic receptors on muscle tissue to proliferate (due to #1 above)
3) It can be an excellent change to gain, if you don’t do a lot of stretching or stretch-position exercises very often.
Keep in mind that if most trainees use stretch-position exercise—overhead extensions for triceps, pullovers for lats, sissy squats for quads—they usually do not do them first when training any of those muscle groups.
So by doing an all-stretch workout, you can use a bit more weight, have more control during the exercise and produce more hypertrophic trauma with each set.
Because you will use more weight on a FRESH muscle, we recommend doing one high-rep set first—around 20 reps. That will prime the tendons and ligaments, heighten blood flow and prevent injury. Plus, using a high-rep set first as a warmup will fatigue slow-twitch fibers so more fast-twitch growth fibers fire on subsequent sets. That’s the STX mass method…
STX comes from a study done in Brazil and published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. Researchers had one group do a preliminary set of leg extensions to failure with 20 percent of their one-rep-max before moving to heavier sets. The other group did only standard sets with 75 percent of their 1RM. Rests between sets for both groups were 30 seconds to one minute. Results…
More muscle size and strength occurred in the group that included a preliminary high-rep set because “muscle failure (principally of [slow-twitch] type-1 fibers) and metabolic accumulation induced by prior exhaustive exercise [promoted] a greater global recruitment of type-2 [high-growth] fibers during traditional training sets and, thus, further stimulate muscle performance and adaptations.” [Ergo-log.com]
In other words, the high-rep set fatigues slow-twitch fibers to allow more fast-twitch growth fibers to fire on the heavier sets, resulting in a better hypertrophic muscular response.
If you’d like an all-stretch workout with STX to try, see our new ebook The Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload Workout (page 36).
Remember if you’re going to do a stretch-only workout, we highly recommend a high-rep set first for the best mass-machine burst.
NEWEST RELEASE: The Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload Workout contains more details on the above stretch studies, plus other mass-building research and workouts supercharged with anabolic stretch, including 20-Rep Squat, 3D Power Pyramid and Pure-Positions STX (slow-twitch exhaustion). For a limited time, you can add it to your mass-building library, a $19 value, for ONLY $9 HERE.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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