Stretching for muscle growth: How to stretch the muscle for maximal muscle growth. Learn how stretching can lead to new gains in musce growth.
Stretch Your Muscles for More Muscle Growth Key Points
- A recent study found that training at long muscle lengths ( a full range of motion ROM) or stretching muscle groups resulted in greater muscle growth than training with a full range of motion.(Kassiano et al., 2023)
- A recent literature review found that training with a partial range of motion at longer muscle lengths resulted in small increases in muscle growth over a full range of motion. (Wolf et al., 2022)
- Training at longer muscle lengths or regularly stretching the muscle can contribute to greater muscle gains.
Stretching before exercise is considered an important component of fitness by the ACSM and sports medicine practitioners. Stretching has been advocated before physical activity to reduce stiffness and soreness. There are two types of stretching: dynamic stretch and static stretch. Dynamic stretching is best performed during the warm-up phase, as it helps to prepare the muscles and joints for the upcoming workout. Additionally, some people will use techniques such as foam rolling to help release tight muscles and improve flexibility by targeting the fascia, the connective tissue surrounding muscle.
Unleash Your Potential: Stretch the Muscle for Gains
Are you looking to gain muscle and enhance your physique? One often overlooked technique to maximize hypertrophy(i.e., muscle growth) is regular stretching of the muscle during strength training exercises. This comprehensive article will explore how training at long lengths, supported by scientific research, can lead to greater gains in mass and improved performance. Keep reading to learn how to gain muscle mass more effectively by stretching the muscle and incorporating tension.
Before diving into the benefits of stretching for more gains, it is essential to understand the relationship between muscle length and stretch. Muscles are composed of individual fibers that contract and lengthen to produce force. When you stretch the muscle, you increase the length of these fibers, enhancing the muscle’s ability to produce force and stimulate growth. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that training at longer muscle lengths/ with a full range of motion can lead to more significant hypertrophy and overall strength gains than partial reps (McMahon et al., 2014).
How Stretching the Muscle Promotes Muscle Growth
Resistance training at long muscle lengths has been shown to result in greater growth compared to shorter muscle lengths. Stretching the muscle during strength training exercises stimulates growth by activating specific physiological mechanisms. Additionally, stretching the muscle can improve blood flow, delivering more nutrients and oxygen to the tissue and further promoting muscle growth.(Hotta et al., 2018) There are a few reasons why training with stretched muscles can enhance muscle growth:
Greater Tension: When a muscle is stretched, its fibers are stretched, and the sarcomeres – the basic contractile units of the muscle – are pulled apart. Training at longer muscle lengths allows for greater tension on the muscle fibers. This increased tension results in a stronger stimulus for muscle growth, forcing the muscles to work harder to contract and generate force. (Pinto et al., 2011) Tension is one of the primary drivers of muscle hypertrophy and directly impacts the activation of muscle protein synthesis.
More Muscle Damage: Performing exercises at longer muscle lengths can lead to increased muscle damage due to the greater mechanical tension on the muscle fibers. This muscle damage, in turn, activates satellite cells, which are crucial for muscle repair and growth. Satellite cells act as muscle stem cells and are responsible for providing new muscle fibers and repairing damaged ones. The activation of satellite cells promotes muscle hypertrophy by increasing the overall number of muscle fibers and enhancing their capacity to grow.
Lengthening Muscles: Stretch Your Glutes and Hamstrings Muscles for Greater Gains
Before diving into the benefits of stretching for more muscle gains, it’s essential to understand the relationship between muscle length and stretch. Muscles are composed of individual muscle fibers that contract and lengthen to produce force. When you stretch the muscle, you’re increasing the length of these fibers, which can enhance the muscle’s ability to produce force and stimulate growth. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology by McMahon et al. (2014), training at longer muscle lengths can lead to more significant muscle hypertrophy and overall strength gains. A meta-analysis of 26 studies found that isometric contractions in the stretched position increased muscle growth more than in a contracted position.(Oranchuk et al., 2019)
In order to get bigger, most people think it’s all about the weight on the bar, but stretching can increase anabolic signaling pathways independent of tension. (Russ, 2008) Certain animal studies have shown that you can increase muscle growth by stretching a muscle with tension. The greater stretch of the hamstrings induced by seated leg curls results in more hamstrings growth than lying leg curls. (Maeo et al., 2021) This same concept can explain why deep squats grow the glutes more than shallow squats because deep squats stretch the glutes more. (Kubo et al., 2019) A recent 2021 study found that stretching the hamstrings before and during rest periods between squats increased hamstring growth. The non-stretching group showed no increases in hamstring growth.(Trindade et al., 2020)
Muscle Lengthening Exercises Better For Biceps Growth
Not all partial reps are the same. You can do a partial rep that still stretches the muscle and get muscle gains. One study showed that doing bicep curls with stretching at the beginning led to better muscle growth and strength. The authors of the study suggested that training in a stretched position caused more stress and anabolic responses, leading to more muscle growth.(Pedrosa et al., 2023)
Try doing bicep curls with a focus on stretching at the beginning. It’s not necessary to use very heavy weights as long as you train for muscular failure. By focusing on the stretched position, you can build strength and muscle, similar to doing a full range of motion.