by Steve Holman, Iron Man Magazine
Q: When should I stretch? I know thatís important, so should I do it before or after my weight workout? Also, will stretching help build muscle?
A: You should stretch during your workoutsóand, no, I donít 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. Iím talking about using Positions-of-Flexion mass training, where the second exercise is a stretch-position moveósissy squats for quads, stiff-legged deadlifts for hamstrings, flyes for pecs, pullovers for lats and so on. You donít 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. Youíre basically simulating a flye with one armóbut it shouldnít 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, thatís flyes.
The stretch-position exercise is important for flexibility, but because youíre stretching against resistance, youíre 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.
Studies also show that heavy stretch moves increase anabolic receptors in muscle tissueówhich leads to a bigger, more massive you.
Editorís 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