Research suggests adding weight to your static stretches is the best way to keep progressing.
Holding a stretch sounds dated. It’s reminiscent of the lacklustre toe touch you did after school sports. Today’s all about dynamic movements, right? Well, there is a swelling area of research that suggests a throwback approach could set you on course for a very strong future. All you have to do is add some weight.
Research published in The Journal of Applied Physiology revealed that stretching has much the same effect on muscles as weight training does. Both stretching and lifting cause micro tears in the muscle tissue – known as Z-line ruptures, if you’d like to show off – which stimulate your muscle cells to produce growth factors. These growth factors promote the manufacture of new muscle fibres, and level up your lifting potential.
A separate study published in the same journal discovered that intense stretching with weights after you’ve worked a muscle group has the potential to increase muscle mass by 318% in 28 days. Arnie employed the protocol en route to Mr Olympia, and we all know how that turned out.
The study suggests that for supersized success you need to loosen your fascia, a fibrous sheath surrounding your muscles. Meant as a physiological protective barrier for your muscles it also restricts growth. Stretching throws off the shackles, creating more room in which your muscles can expand.
Want to put the protocol into practice? Try this plan from Elite Trainer Tom Hall
- At or near the end of a workout, use a weight you can lift for 12-plus reps.
- When you reach failure, let the weight stretch your targeted muscle for at least 30 seconds.
- Put the weight down and immediately pick up a lighter set of dumbbells (about 15% lighter).
- Rep out again and then let the weight stretch your targeted muscle for another 30 seconds.
- Repeat once or twice more without resting.
Cable Pec Fly
Perform your 12 rep set then grab another set of dumbbells 50% lighter. Slowly go down through the eccentric lowering phase. When you feel the greatest amount of stretch across your chest, hold for 30 secs. Gravity will be fighting against you, but stay there and concentrate on holding on.
Pretty simple, this one. After completing a set of pull-ups, fully extend your arms and hang on tight. Keep your feet off the ground for maximal tension. This will work on grip, light up your forearms, but most importantly, stretch out your lats to maximise the benefits of your pull-ups. Repeat for two extra sets and aim for 30 secs.
“Disclaimer!!! – To get the best results from this technique, do as follows…
- It needs to be deployed in conjunction with effective strength and hypertrophy workout – staying between the rep ranges of 5 and12.
- To make the most “gains” you will need to be in a surplus of calories. So that’s permission to eat. You’re welcome.
- Only perform this on the last exercise of the workout. Otherwise the fatigue will damage the rest of your session.