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Stretching the Muscle Increases Muscle Mass

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Stretching the Muscle Increases Muscle Growth

by: Robbie Durand

For years, every health and fitness book recommended to complete a full contraction and to emphasize the stretch when completing a contraction. However, new research suggests that stretching the muscle is more important than ever for muscle growth.

Researchers examined IGF-1 (an essential growth factor) responses to eccentric training. Participants trained for eight weeks, loading the quadriceps in a shortened or lengthened position, followed by four weeks of detraining. The resistance-training program was performed three times a week and involved a combination of free weights, machines, and body weight. Knee-extension exercises were performed for 3–4 sets of 8–10 reps at 80% (short-length group) or 55% (long-length group) of full range of motion 1RM. Quadriceps strength, vastus lateralis architecture, anatomical cross-sectional area, and serum IGF-I (insulin like growth factor 1) were measured at Weeks 0, 8, 10, and 12.

Researchers concluded that greater increases in muscular strength and anatomical cross sectional area of the quadriceps resulted from resistance training at long muscle lengths in comparison with resistance training at short muscle lengths, despite the same mechanical loading and joint excursion in each case.

Stretching the muscle during a contraction can be the most important thing you can do to spark new muscle growth.

McMahon G, Morse CI, Burden A, Winwood K, Onambélé GL. Muscular adaptations and insulin-like growth factor-1 responses to resistance training are stretch-mediated. Muscle Nerve. 2014 Jan;49(1):108-19.

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