Stretching is usually an afterthought in most guys' training programs. That was a mistake. It turns out that ignoring this part of your routine may result in significant gains because intermittent and post-set stretching can increase blood flow to a muscle and keep the fibres under tension for longer.
Stretching lengthens muscles and expands the range of motion of the body. Furthermore, scientific evidence suggests that stretching promotes muscle growth. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, intense stretching after working a muscle group can increase its mass by 318% in 28 days.
But first, a word about muscle growth: Muscle grows in two ways: by increasing the size of muscle fibres or by adding more muscle fibres. For the purposes of this article, we'll concentrate on the second method. There are two ways to cause hypertrophy (muscle growth): the fiber can split and become larger as a result, or your body can release a special type of cell called satellite cells, which form to create new muscle fibers. To elicit a reaction, your body must be subjected to extreme stretches, such as those described here.
Types of Stretching
There are two kinds of stretching: dynamic stretching and static stretching. Dynamic stretches make use of movement. High kicks and trunk twists are two examples. These can improve your mobility in exercises and should be done as a warmup or between sets, but they won't help you build muscle. Static stretches, on the other hand, are motionless. You are locked in place once you have properly positioned yourself. When your tendons and muscles are at their most pliable, perform these stretches. They should be done after weight training, not before.
How to Perform Stretching Correctly
- Hold the maximally stretched position for 60 to 90 seconds.
- Stretch a body part only after it has been trained.
- Such stretches will improve mobility and may even promote growth.
- Stretch one or two times per body part per workout.
Tips to Maximise Stretching
- Don't put your joints in an unnatural position, but stretch the targeted muscle as much as possible.
- This must be painful in order to be effective.
- Increase your tolerance by gradually increasing the length of the stretch until you can perform it for 60 to 90 seconds.
- Try massaging the affected area after each stretch.
Stretching relieves muscular tension, which can inhibit muscle growth after exercise. It also improves your muscles' mechanical efficiency, which means you'll need less energy to exert yourself and can thus perform more repetitions in your strength-training routine with the same amount of energy. Finally, stretching increases blood flow to your muscles, increasing the delivery of essential nutrients and decreasing the buildup of lactic acid, which causes muscle soreness and fatigue. The tips above should help you maximise the benefits of stretching for muscle gains.