The fitness elite has long viewed the static stretch as a shade anachronistic, trading it in for dynamic moves with ridiculous names such as ‘the scorpion’ and ‘the inchworm’. Fools! New US research shows that if you make time to hold a stretch at the end of your workout instead of beelining for the exit, you can increase your muscle mass by as much as 13 per cent.
Timing, however, is everything. Static stretching isn’t necessarily a force for fitness in every instance. In fact, performed pre-workout, calf and quad stretches can actually hamper your training.
According to one meta-analysis, static stretching reduces your power output in the subsequent session by 5.5 per cent. Wait until your cool down, however, and you can improve your strength by a bulky 237 per cent over the course of eight weeks. That’s some stretch, you’ll agree.
Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that stretching can have much the same effect on your muscles as resistance training does. Both cause micro tears in your muscle tissue – known as Z-line ruptures – that stimulate your muscle cells to
produce growth factors. It is these growth factors that prompt the manufacture of new muscle fibres and, in turn, the addition of extra weight plates to your barbell.
And a post-workout loosener needn’t take hours: just 10 minutes after your final deadlift will be enough to make you feel the benefits. Perform five sets of stretches that target your hamstrings, quads and calves, holding each pose for 30 seconds, and you’ll enjoy a far more relaxing route to gaining extra muscle. It’s the simplest way for you to stretch your potential.