Stretching, Meat heads do it too

As I sit here lounging on the couch, enjoying my traditional lazy Sunday ritual, I thought it was about time I delivered a post on training. Opposed to hormones, nutrition and supplementation, as I tend to gravitate toward, as of late.

While one of the main reasons I train is to continuously challenge myself, even I find myself slipping into old routines and patterns. Going to the gym, doing the same exercises, in the same order, at the same volume. Now mind you, I train intuitively, so if I feel strong I’ll go heavier, if I’m sore I’ll go for stretch and volume, but there still lack that variety. You need to do something new if you want to see any real growth. You need to shock you system, create the kind of stress and demand that spurs and adaptive response.

So people feel when it comes to body building you don’t need to be fancy. It’s the same basic exercises that have always been done. And they’re not entirely wrong. The truth is, when you look at anatomy there’s so only many ways, and so many angles at which you can target a muscle group, based on its natural insertion, origin and function. So what do you do?

The answer is in how you execute the movement. One of the principles of German volume training for instance, is tempo. It relies on a three second eccentric movement, at 60% max, with a 10 x 10 split. But today isn’t about volume, it’s about stretch. And not the kind you see girls in sports bras leisurely doing on the exercise mats at the gym.

So first, let’s talk a little anatomy. Muscle are wrapped in a interconnected network of fibrous tissue. It’s kind of like plastic wrap for your muscles and it’s called fascia.  Now.. If you want your muscle to grow and get bigger, this fascia need to stretch right? So how do you ensure this fascia is nice and malleable, so that you can get huge. The answer is stretch induced hypertrophy training. Sounds super fancy right?! But once again, the answer is actually pretty simple. Training with a full range of motion (none of this half rep bull shit) and holding at end range creates a nice deep stretch. Research has shown that this type of stretching can cause gene expression changes, such as an increase in IGF -1. Mini science lesson, this is a very importantly hormone for anabolic growth,  IGF -1 increase nitrogen retention (responsible for pump), protein synthesis, and hyperplasia.

Stretching can also lead to an internal remodelling of the muscle when done repeatedly. And aside from feeling strong AF, isn’t this why most of us lift. It’s right in the name “body building”. But seriously, how cool is it that you can intentionally  affect the internal structure of your muscle?! Research believes this is the fault of additional sarcomeres. Mini science lesson (again), these are what allow your muscle to move heavy things. Sarcomeres slide in one another through actin and myosin, causing lengthening  and shortening. The thought is if you add more, the muscle won’t overstretch and tear.

Lastly, the act of stretching with the addition of weight/tension, can add to the overall time under tension  and metabolic stress on the muscle itself.  For attentive readers, and fellow science geeks, you’ll know that this is essentially the principle of growing little muscles into big strong muscles. Lift heavy things, and lift them slowly.

Disclaimer. There is a time and place for partials, pumps, and fast reps, but you’ll just have to stay tuned for another day 😉

You fit betch,
JP xoxo

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