Workout Tips

Make Serious Gains by Stretching

Stop neglecting this essential part of your workout if you want to build muscle.

Gary Burchell/Getty

For most guys, stretching is a mere afterthought in their training program. Well, that’s a mistake. It turns out that neglecting this part of your routine means that you could be missing out on some significant gains, as intermittent and post-set stretching can increase the blood flow to a muscle and keep the fibers under tension for longer.

But first, let’s talk about muscle growth: Muscle grows in two ways—by making muscle fibers bigger, or by adding more muscle fibers. For the sake of this article, the second method is what we’ll be focusing on. There are two ways to spark hypertrophy (muscle growth): the fiber can split and, in response get larger, or your body can release a special type of cell called satellite cells and these form to create new muscle fibers. To spark a reaction, your body must be put under extreme stretches, like the ones outlined here.

And there are two types of stretching: dynamic and static. Dynamic stretches utilize movement. Examples include high kicks and trunk twists. These can increase your mobility in exercises, and they should be done as a warmup or between sets and won’t do much for you in the muscle department. In contrast, static stretches are motionless. Once you’ve positioned yourself properly, you remain locked in place. These stretches should be performed when your tendons and muscles are most pliable. Do them after weight training, not before.

Now let’s get to the gains: Researchers from the University of Tampa concluded that stretching a muscle for 30 seconds with weight, immediately after reaching failure on the same exercise, doubled the muscle gain in the non-control group over the course of five weeks. Additionally, stretching an isolated muscle like the chest or biceps can increase blood flow, which means more muscle-building nutrients will be delivered to that area.

To help you get there, we provide key points and tips along with stretches for major body parts, so that you can begin to incorporate this basic, but effective, method for newfound size.


Extreme stretching basics

  • Attain the maximally stretched position and hold it for 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Stretch a body part only after training it.
  • Such stretches will increase mobility and may also boost growth.
  • Do one or two stretches per body part per workout.

Extreme stretching tip sheet

  • Don’t place your joints in an unnatural position, but do maximally stretch the targeted muscle(s).
  • To be effective, this must be painful.
  • Build up your tolerance by gradually increasing the duration of the stretch until you can do 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Try following each stretch with a self-massage of the area.

For access to exclusive fitness advice, interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!