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Stretch Overload

Q: I saw mention that casting a leg in plaster with the foot stationary but the calf stretched caused the calf muscle to grow. To me that says stretching is a helluva stimulus for hypertrophy. Do you recommend any kind of stretch workouts for more muscle size?

A: And let’s not forget the animal study that produced a 300 percent increase in muscle mass after one month of stretch overload. In both of those instances little to zero movement was occurring. The bird’s wing was merely pulsing against the resistance in the stretch position, not doing full reps. That led to my stretch-pulse technique, holding and pulsing in the max-elongation point on a stretch-position exercise for 40 to 60 seconds.

Another stretch-overload tactic is Double-X Overload. That’s simply doing a double hitch at the elongation point on every rep of your stretch-position exercises.

For example, on flyes you lower to full stretch, raise the dumbbells up only eight inches, lower to stretch, then pull the ’bells all the way to the top. That’s one rep. Notice that with DXO you emphasize the stretch point on every rep with a double-hitch at the bottom.

To take it a step further, I like super DXO. For that you do four quick hitches at the bottom stretch point of every rep. Of course, the weight will have to be lighter so you can get about six super-DXO reps on stretch-position exercises, like flyes for chest, sissy squats for quads, stiff-legged deadlifts for hams or pullovers for lats. You’ll feel them working from the very first stretch-intensive rep.

I recommend performing either DXO or super-DXO on the last set of a 4X mass-training sequence: Pick a weight with which you can get 15 rep, but only do 10; rest 30 to 40 seconds, then do 10 more. Rest 30 to 40 seconds, then do 10 more (this set should be hard—usually nine reps instead of 10). Now reduce the weight and do your fourth set DXO style or super-DXO style, as described above.

You could also use the stretch-pulse technique—that is, lowering to the point of stretch and pulsing for as long as possible, no full reps. You can use the same weight as your other sets in your 4X sequence, but shoot for around 40 seconds for optimal hypertrophic tension time.

The last set of a 4X sequence is a perfect place for all kinds of “fun” change-to-gain variations like DXO. Other tactics you can try include drop sets—when you reach failure, reduce the weight and immediately continue with as many reps as possible—and rest/pause, which means at failure you rest for 10 seconds, and then blast out as many reps as you can with the same weight.

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, see the ad sections it this issue. Also visit and for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books.  IM


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