Over the years many people have developed a standard way of lifting when trying to gain mass. It centers on starting with big, basic lifts that utilize large muscle groups and heavy weight. The principles are sound, but what if they aren’t the most effective way to gain size?
Stretch position exercises have been utilized by numerous very successful bodybuilders and lifters over the years to gain mass. Examples include Larry Scott and his use of preacher and Scott curls to work his massive biceps, stiff-legged deadlifts crafting Tom Platz’s massive legs, or chest flyes to help Arnold’s chest swell to incredible proportions. So should you start using them too?
Inside Stretch-Position Training
Stretch position exercises are ones that place resistance against the muscle from the start of the range thru the finish. By utilizing proper angles and equipment, the level of tension used is much higher and thus the resistance is initially greater and tapers off as the muscle reaches peak contraction. Many non-stretch exercises do the opposite and get to maximum tension at the peak where less actual tension is created.
Science supports that using a stretch-position exercise as an initial exercise for a muscle group can provide superior results to mass gain by creating greater muscle tension through a longer range of motion. In essence it can be considered in the same light as using the pre-exhaust technique, which often uses similar stretch-position exercises to isolate the muscle.
Top Stretch Exercises
There are plenty out there, but here are a few of the more common ones you can include first in your routine before you hit the big compound mass building exercises:
- Cable Side Laterals – For the side delts to really hit the medial head from the onset. This also works for rear and front laterals.
- Cable Front Rows – Much like laterals, using a cable puts tension on the initial pull which affects the outer heads of the muscles more.
- Cable Preacher Curls or Cable Incline Curls – This stresses the bottom or length of the muscle.
- Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – A great stretch-mass building exercise.
- Pec Flyes – You can use dumbbells or pulleys (or alternate) to really work the muscles over. Make sure to change angles and attack from the incline as well as decline.
- Overhead Triceps Extensions – These can be done with a cable and you can mix between grips such as using a flat handle versus a rope handle.
- Sissy Squats – Another favorite of Tom Platz, these squats stress the stretch of the muscle more than using weight.
- Cable Lateral Pullovers – Great for the lats and the chest you can use this exercise with a high pulley and a pulldown bar.
This style of training is not new, just under-utilized. Many lifters have used the concept before with great results but considered it more of an ‘intensity technique’ to be used sometimes. It will definitely make you sore and help stretch and tear muscle fibers that you might not hit as easily with other methods of training.
Give it a try for a few weeks and see if you can see and feel a difference in muscle strength and size.