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Chest Training with Stretch Overload

Q: I need to develop my inner chest—the cleavage, so to speak. A friend at my gym told me that really squeezing and flexing at the bottom of cable crossovers will get my inner pecs popping. Is that true?

A: While full-range cable crossovers can help develop the entire pec muscle—even the inner sections—the best way to attack the insertion point of a muscle is by emphasizing stretch overload.

The insertion is where the muscle attaches to the bone—the inner chest, lower lats, lower biceps, bottom point of the delts, etc. So the solution to your inner-pec problem is best solved with dumbbell flyes, which stretch the pecs against resistance best.

Here’s what top researcher Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., has observed: “Partial-range reps in the lower range [stretch point] of a muscle can actually add sarcomeres to a muscle fiber, which would fill out the area of a muscle where it is inserted.”

His statement backs my position that stretch exercises add a lot to full-muscle development, especially at the insertion. And it’s the reason I often recommend the Double-X Overload tactic on stretch moves, like flyes. For those you essentially do a partial rep at the stretch point after each full rep. Here’s the DXO drill from the e-book Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building:

“DXO flyes: Start twith the dumbbells over your chest with a slight bend at your elbows. Lower in an arc, maintaining the constant elbow bend, until the dumbbells are on the same plane as your torso. Don’t pause at the bottom spot, but instead immediately raise the dumbbells about 10 inches, lower back to the stretch, then pull them all the way up over your chest. That’s one rep. You essentially get a double ‘hitch’ in the stretch position, which emphasizes development at the insertion.”

You can use DXO on any stretch-position exercise for a new mass surge, especially at the insertion; for example, hitting lower quads with sissy squats.

Another major mass-building benefit of emphasizing the stretch is the possibility of hyperplasia, or fiber splitting. Back to the Beyond X and a quote that should get you very excited about the major mass-boosting power of stretch overload:

“One study done by Antonio and Gonyea in 1994 showed that fiber splitting can occur from stretch overload—more fibers would equal more mass potential…. They used weights to progressively overload one wing and stretch the anterior latissimus dorsi muscles…. After 28 stretch days, the study recorded the greatest gains in muscle mass ever in an animal or human model of tension-induced overload—a 334 percent increase in muscle mass with a 90 percent increase in fiber number.”

That should be reason enough to use stretch-position exercises, which are included in all Positions-of-Flexion routines. And you should also integrate the DXO mass tactic often—like on flyes for your pec problem. I guarantee you’ll have new soreness down the middle of your pecs, a good sign that jagged separation will soon be etching your chest.

Editor’s note: Steve Holman is the author of many bodybuilding best-sellers and the creator of Positions-of-Flexion muscle training. For information on the POF videos and Size Surge programs, go to Also visit for information on X-Rep and 3D POF methods and e-books.  IM




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