Q: When should I stretch? I know that’s important, so should I do it before or after my weight workout? Also, will stretching help build muscle?
A: You should stretch during your workouts—and, no, I don’t mean to stretch the target muscle between sets, which can acually weaken the muscle and produce slack in the support tissues like tendons and ligaments. I’m talking about using Positions-of-Flexion mass training, where the second exercise is a stretch-position move—sissy squats for quads, stiff-legged deadlifts for hamstrings, flyes for pecs, pullovers for lats and so on. You don’t need more stretching than that.
Now, I do recommend some freehand range-of-motion holds right before you do a POF routine for a muscle. For example, before going into a POF chest workout, grasp a stationary upright, keep your arm straight, and then turn away from it to get a slight stretch in your pecs. You’re basically simulating a flye with one arm—but it shouldn’t be excessive. Just do it for about 10 seconds for each side, and then go to your first exercise.
That target-muscle elongation is meant to give the muscle a range-of-motion warning. The real stretch work occurs when you get to the stretch-position exercise, the second move in standard POF protocol. In the case of chest, that’s flyes.
The stretch-position exercise is important for flexibility, but because you’re stretching against resistance, you’re also building muscle. In fact, stretch overload is a key hypertrophic stimulus, and you should use it for every muscle via POF protocol. Keep in mind that an animal study produced a 300 percent gain in muscle with one month of progressive-resistance stretch-only workouts. Amazing.
Studies also show that heavy stretch moves increase anabolic receptors in muscle tissue—which leads to a bigger, more massive you.
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 DVD and Size Surge programs, visit www.Home-Gym.com. Also visit www.X-Rep.com and X-Workouts.com for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM