If you’ve watched the male gymnasts during the Olympics before, you no doubt noticed their eye-popping upper-body mass. Some have delts, arms, and torsos that resemble competitive bodybuilders’. Very impressive, especially considering that muscle mass isn’t one of their goals; it’s just a side effect of their sport…
So what causes gymnasts’ muscle development to be so extreme? One stimulus is lots of muscle-stretch
Tension/occlusion has been shown in a number of studies to trigger muscular growth quickly. We discuss a few of those in our X Update e-book, the most impressive being one performed by John Little and colleagues several years ago. Subjects gained pounds of muscle after one static-hold workout. That’s right—all it took was one workout, mostly with one static-hold set per bodypart, for a significant muscle-mass increase.
You can use that technique in your workouts to trigger some of the best muscle gains you’ve ever experienced. Going back to the topic of
In fact, the animal study we discuss in our many of our e-books that increased muscle mass by 300 percent in one month used progressive stretch overload, increasing the weight on a bird’s wing in the stretch position; however—and this is key—almost no movement occurred. It was a static hold/pulse at the point of stretch…
We apply the hold technique in the program outlined in the X-Rep Update e-book, using static holds on either contracted-position exercises, like concentration curls and cable crossovers, at the point of flex, or on stretch-position exercises, like incline curls and dumbbell flyes (pictured above), at or near the point of full elongation. (We use the designations StatC and StatS—the C = contraction, S = stretch.)
Because optimal hypertrophic tension time is around 30-plus seconds, we suggest 30-to-60-second holds, be it in the contracted or stretch position. You can try a static hold as either stand-alone sets—like as your second set of flyes—or as the second phase of a drop set.
For example, do concentration curls to exhaustion, reduce the weight, then immediately launch into a static hold at the top contracted position for as long as you can maintain the flex (we get a unique growth ache from static holds, which indicates deep fiber activation)…
Try it on a few of your stretch- and contracted-position exercises at your next workout. Then watch as your muscles take on new detail, size, and vascularity. It’s one more powerful mass-construction method in your 3D-X arsenal. [Note: Stretch and contracted-position exercises for each bodypart are identified in all of our e-books, including the X-Rep Update #1.]
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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