Not only is stretching important for flexibility,
CRITICAL for massive, rapid muscle growth.
When you think about gaining muscle, stretching is probably
not the first thing that pops into your head. But did you
know that stretching plays a critical role in building
Every muscle in your body is enclosed in a bag of tough
connective tissue known as fascia. Fascia is important for
holding your muscles in their proper place in your body.
But your fascia may also be holding back your muscle
growth. Think for a moment about your muscles. You train
them and feed them properly. They want to grow and will
grow but something is holding them back. They have no room
Because fascia is so tough, it doesn't allow the muscle
room to expand. It is like stuffing a large pillow into
a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle won't change
regardless of how hard you train or how well you eat
because the connective tissue around your muscles is
constricting the muscles within.
The best example of this is the calf muscle. The lower leg
is riddled with fascia because of its tremendous weight-
bearing duties in the body. It is because of this fascia
that many trainers have great difficulty developing their
The solution: stretching.
Using the pillowcase example from above, imagine you can
expand the size of the pillowcase by stretching it.
Suddenly, the pillow within has more room and will expand
to fill that new space. By stretching your muscles under
specific conditions, you can actually stretch your fascia
and give your muscles more room to grow.
The key to effective fascial stretching is the pump. The
best time to stretch to expand the bags that are holding
in your muscles is when your muscles are pumped up full
When your muscles are fully pumped up, they are pressing
against the fascia. By stretching hard at that time, you
increase that pressure on the fascia greatly, which can
lead to expansion of the fascia.
One of the major reasons Arnold Schwarzenegger had such
incredible chest development was that he finished his chest
workouts with dumbell flyes, an exercise that emphasizes
the stretched position of the pectoral muscles. He would
pump his chest up full of blood during the workout then do
flyes, holding the stretch at the bottom of the flye. This
gave his chest room to grow to amazing proportions.
Fascial stretching is more rigorous than regular stretching
but the results can be amazing. When you stretch hard
enough to cause the fascia to expand, you will really feel
it! When you are stretching the fascia, you should feel a
powerful pulling sensation and pressure as the muscle works
against the fascia to expand it.
Be sure you do not stretch so hard that you cause the
muscle to tear or cause injury to yourself. You will
rapidly learn to distinguish the difference between a good
stretch and a bad stretch. You should not feel any sharp
pain, just a steady pull.
Hold each stretch for at least 20 to 30 seconds as you must
give your fascia time to be affected by the stretch.
Stretch hard like this only when you have a fully pumped
muscle as you must give your fascia a reason to expand. If
your muscles aren't pumped, just stretch normally.
One set of hard stretching after each set you do for a
muscle group, besides the obvious benefits of increased
flexibility, can have an incredible effect on the size of
your muscles and their further ability to grow.
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