“One of the integral parts of fitness is stretching and it should be added to all workout routines,” says the American Council on Exercise. It helps to elongate different types of muscles that are used during workouts and helps make them stronger.
Stretching not only encourages muscle growth but also decreases the risk of an injury, making the exercise a bit easier.
The most commonly asked question during weight training is how one should stretch. Whether before the exercise, during, or after you have finished the workout. Stretching the wrong muscle at the wrong time can result in serious muscle damage and can hinder its growth.
When Should You Stretch?
If you stretch a cold muscle, it can result in an injury ranging from minor strains to fatal tears. Research tells us that stretching your muscles just before you train can result in loss of strength during the reps. In short, you won’t be able to utilize your maximum energy. Same goes for stretching during the workout. Though it feels a bit pleasurable and helps to increase blood flow, why take the risk?
However, stretching the right way during the training can actually help to boost your strength and improve recovery between your sets. The science used here is simple: Stretch the antagonistic muscle to the one you are working out. This includes stretching the hamstrings after leg press, lats after bench press, etc.
In short, stretching your antagonistic muscle group during training is very beneficial for optimal results and muscle growth.
Best Stretching Technique For Bodybuilders
The best way to stretch your muscles is through intense stretching of a trained muscle immediately after completing the workout. By intense stretching, we mean that the muscle should only slightly hurt.
Each stretch should last for 30-60 seconds before being released.
A great muscle stretch can be holding the bottom of a chest flye with slightly heavy dumbbells in your hands. Hanging via a close grip from the chin up bar with your partner pulling down on your waist is also a great stretch.
You could also sit in a deep position, like a sissy squat. Another great stretching method includes grabbing the ball of the foot with one hand and attempt to straighten your ankle by stretching the calf muscle. This is also known as an isometric stretch.
Basically, we are trying to leverage the intensity of your stretch here in order to benefit the most from it.
Benefits of Intense Stretching
Research shows that stretching increases the rate of hypertrophy, resulting in the stimulation of satellite cells that ultimately result in muscle growth. Needless to say, it is painful!
Things You Should Avoid
You should never do static stretching before lifting weights, especially for muscle building. Even though it may feel beneficial, experts say it is a big mistake. It may result in a strain or a pulled muscle, and can even hinder muscle growth.
Concluding our discussion, avoid stretching any cold muscle before training and any muscle during training. You should follow the antagonistic muscle stretch approach and maintain the position for 30-60 seconds, being sure you don’t stretch too far, resulting in damage.