Q: In the first chapter of the Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload Workout e-book [The Latest Stretch-Overload Research] you mention the animal study that produced a 300 percent muscle mass increase after one month of stretch loading. That is incredible, but are there any other studies that show stretch overload results?
A: When it comes to stretch-induced muscle growth, we always mention that particular animal study because it’s the most impressive—triple sizing a muscle after a month’s worth of stretch-overload “workouts” is phenomenal! And it shows the importance of stretch-position exercises for triggering extreme muscle size quickly. Stretch overload results can be pretty phenomenal.
There are other studies that show the critical stretch/hypertrophy relationship. We went to renowned researcher Jerry Brainum to pick his brain on the subject:
One past study showed that a continuously applied stretch for 10 days promoted myoblast proliferation, or the production of increased muscle cells. Another study in which rat soleus were stretched three times a week for a month resulted in a 13 percent increase in muscle mass, along with a 30 percent increase in muscle fiber area. The gains in power shown in the stretching group are related to increases in muscle length, which leads to increases in muscle contractile velocity and force generation by muscle, which equates to more muscle power.
So stretching and stretch overload can significantly increase both mass and power fast. In fact, we’ve had numerous reports of trainees getting muscle-size surges by putting only one set of a stretch-position exercise at the end of each bodypart workout, but not doing reps; instead, holding the stretch position for 30 to 40 seconds (as mentioned in the Stretch-Overload e-book).
For example, after you train your biceps with a 3D Positions-of-Flexion program—barbell curls (midrange), incline curls (stretch), and concentration curls (contracted)—go back to the incline bench, grab a pair of dumbbells and recline on the bench with the dumbbells in the biceps stretch position, palms facing forward. Hold that stretch for 30 seconds, but try for 40. When 40 becomes easy, increase the weight.
You can use that stretch-hold technique at the end of each of your bodypart routines to jolt anabolic acceleration. For triceps, you would use overhead extensions, holding the bar or dumbbells just above your shoulders—so the tri’s are straining, not relaxing, in the full-stretch position. You may want to use very small pulsing actions (mini-X Reps) so you better engage the target muscle. Remember, it’s not a passive stretch; make it active with pulses so you engage the target muscle.
You can use this stretch-hold technique for all
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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