IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #645:
Partials, Stretch Overload and 300 Percent Muscle Growth
TRY THIS AT YOUR NEXT WORKOUT
Partials, Stretch Overload and 300 Percent Muscle Growth
Q: I have most of your e-books and was looking over X-Rep Update #1 recently. The section on the bird study that produced a 334 percent muscle mass increase in only a month of stretch-overload had me thinking. I love the gains I've made with 4X, but what if I do only the big midrange move and the ending contracted exercise as 4X sequences, using standard heavy training on the middle stretch-position move [like pullovers for lats]. Overloading all of the stretch exercises in the POF 4X Mass Workout might produce more size quickly just like in the study. What do you think?
A: Hmm, interesting idea. Stretch-position exercises, in Positions-of-Flexion mass building, are different animals compared to other moves. They include pullovers for lats (be very careful on these), incline curls for biceps, overhead extensions for triceps, stiff-legged deadlifts for hams, sissy squats for quads, one-arm dumbbell rows for midback, etc. The full elongation can trigger an emergency-response myotatic reflex for more muscle-fiber activation…
Stretch-position exercises have also been shown to increase ANABOLIC RECEPTORS on muscle tissue, activate muscle satellite cells and, according to the researchers in the study you mention, trigger hyperplasia, or muscle fiber splitting (that's still debatable--BUT the researchers did note a 90 percent increase in fiber number after the study was complete; interesting)…
Does getting all of those benefits quickly require heavy overload when the muscle is fully elongated? Perhaps. That's what they did in the study--they used a bird and GRADUALLY overloaded its wing over the course of a month's worth of "stretch-only workouts." Also keep in mind that the wing moved only small amounts during the "workouts," so you may want to do at least some stretch sets as heavy shorter X-Rep-style partials to replicate that…
On flyes, for example, do only the bottom third or half of the range to keep tension on the target muscle and emphasize the stretch position. That's how Arnold used to do his flyes, which added to his pec mass...
If you're older and/or not into using extreme poundages, which can be hell on joints, you can still emphasize the negative with Double-X Overload sets. For DXO you essentially do an eight-inch X-Rep partial in the stretch position, then pull through the full range.
In other words, with DXO you lower the weight to stretch and do a double "hitch" at the bottom between every full rep--although "full" means only to a point at which tension begins to fall off the target muscle.
With DXO you won't be able to use as much weight as on standard heavy sets, but you'll still emphasize and overload the stretch. (Older trainees should choose DXO instead of going ultra-heavy on stretch moves--along with moderate-weight, high-fatigue 4X on the midrange- and contracted-position exercises.)
Also, as explained in X-Rep Update #1, researcher Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., said, "Partial-range reps in the lower range of a muscle can actually add sarcomeres to a muscle fiber, which would fill out the area of a muscle where it is inserted."
In other words, overloading and emphasizing the stretch will better develop mass at the insertion of the target muscle, like flyes for inner pecs, sissy squats for lower quads, overhead extensions for lower triceps, etc….
Stretch overload appears to be a key to faster, extreme mass AND muscularity.
Till next time, train hard--and smart--for BIG results.
Limited-Time Offer (ends April 2): Add X-Rep Update #1 to your library for only $14.99 (you save $10). It includes info on X-Rep mass tactics like DXO, X/Pause, X-Only and Stretch-Pulse. It also has a complete X-Rep workout and a full chapter on Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler's training program and mass strategies.
Note: A standard 4X sequence is taking a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again--and so on until you complete four sets. On the fourth set you go all out, and if you get at least 10, you add weight to that exercise at your next workout.
--Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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To follow the ITRC training program in “Train, Eat, Grow,” get a copy of the latest issue of IRON MAN.
This Special Report was submitted by Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman.
The IRON MAN Training & Research Team
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