Stretching takes time, and can be tedious and boring, but it mustn't be overlooked.
15 Jun 2017
One of the most overlooked contributors to muscle growth is stretching.
The problem is when you’re busy, the first thing that goes out the window is your flexibility work.
Stretching takes time, and for many, it can be tedious and boring.
I used to stretch a lot when I was younger, yet as I’ve gotten older I rarely stretch. And I know I’ve got this in the wrong order.
That’s why I like the concept of ‘extreme stretching’, which was popularised by Dante Trudel, the inventor of DC Training.
His belief was that if you look at the biggest bodybuilders, they have three things in common: they trained as heavy as possible, at a high frequency and were all pretty flexible.
When you think of bodybuilders in the 70s, 80s and 90s, they all stayed supple despite carrying a lot of muscle mass.
Tom Platz, owner of the best legs of all time could get into all sorts of positions with his legs. Ronnie Coleman, 8x Mr Olympia and arguably the greatest ever, could perform the splits on stage at near 300lbs! The theory behind this is that when you perform deep stretches, you expand the fascia that surrounds the muscle bellies, and allow it more room to grow.
The best thing about it is it only takes 60 to 90 seconds. The worst thing is it hurts like hell when you’re doing it.
I was first exposed to this when working with bodybuilding coach Jordan Peters in 2013 and then forgot about it until reading Scott Stevenson’s excellent training book Fortitude Training.
Ever since, I’ve kept some form of extreme stretching in with myself and some of my more advanced muscle-building clients.
My favourite body parts to apply this to are chest, back, triceps and quads.
To do it, start with a light pair of dumbbells and get into the bottom position of a neutral grip dumbbell press. Concentrate on getting elbows as low as possible while lifting your chest up as high as possible. Hold this for 60 to 90 seconds.
There’s a few ways to do this one:
Hold the stretch on a one-arm overhead dumbbell extension behind the head
Hold the bottom position of a dip
Hold the bottom of a bodyweight triceps extension on a bar (pictured)
Personally, I feel the deepest triceps stretch in the third one, and also feel it’s the safest one for me. A good tip when doing it is to squeeze your biceps at the same time.
This one is great for shoulder health and helps with decompressing the spine after heavy lifting.
It’s very simple. Hang onto a chin-up bar and completely relax. Breathe into the stretch and resist the urge to pull up when you feel tired. Once you can do 60 seconds, start adding weight.
Out of the ones listed, this is the most brutal, and maybe the most effective. Every time I do this, I’m literally shaking throughout.
The blood rush you’ll get from it after is insane, too.
To do it, get into the bottom position of a sissy squat while holding onto something. During the stretch, lean back, squeeze your glutes and keep your knees facing forward.
To make these effective, you need to treat the stretches like an exercise and keep track of your progression.
Always make sure you do these when the muscle is pumped. I like to do these straight after my last working set of that specific muscle group.
If anyone’s got any questions about how to implement this, give me a shout.