have a negative effect on muscular separation, in that they cause muscle groups to literally stick together. If you talk to any great deep massage therapist, they will tell you that the fascia on neighboring muscle groups, almost glues together over time.
Connective tissue manipulation, via hardcore stretching will pull these muscle groups( or the fascia surrounding them ) apart, clearly enhancing separation. In fact you will see incredible separation, such that you never thought genetically possible! There is not an athlete in this sport, that does not understand the benefit of this. And it applies to each bodybuilder. If you feel you have achieved maximum separation, and haven′t incorporated this technique, then I can guarantee you, that you have not even come close to reaching your full potential!
The key is using a variety of angles in your program. Do not simply use one stretch! For example for a basic quadriceps stretch, you would kneel down and plant your knees firmly on the ground. Then you would slowly lean back, using your bodyweight as the applied pressure, necessary for expanding the fascia. For maximum separation you would change angles. For the first stretch, have the knees close together. On the second stretch spread them out wider to hit the inner thighs. See the point? Like your exercises, you need to use a variety of stretches. Another example would be the utilization of free weight stretches. I personally like to use the dumbbell fly in the bottom position for a stretch. For maximum separation of the upper and lower pectorals, I will also incorporate incline dumbbell flys and pullovers( of course, these are lowered to the bottom position and held for 30 seconds, to emphasize the stretch)!
Recommended Stretches Per Body part
To further the effectiveness of your program, I will now list relevant stretches for each body part.
1. Dumbbell Flys In a Stretched Position – Take a pair of dumbbells. About the amount of weight you would use for a 12 repetition set of flys. Lie flat on a bench and lift them in a contracted position. Now slowly lower them to the position that stretches your pectorals maximally. Hold this for the target amount of seconds. I suggest using a decline and incline position.
Flat Fly Stretch Inline Fly Stretch Decline Stretch
1. Pullovers In The Stretched Position – The best stretches for the latisimus dorsi are any form of dumbbell pullovers emphasizing the stretching position. Take close grip semi bent arm pullovers. Grasp the barbell with a 12 inch spacing and extend it directly overhead after laying flat on a bench. Following this, lower the weight until you feel a complete stretch in your lats. Now hold for the appointed amount of time. I suggest using barbells, dumbbells, and straight arm cable pullovers in the stretched position to expand the connective tissue in the lats.
Flat Pullover Stretch Decline Pullover Stretch Incline Pullover Stretch
2. Seated Rows Stretched – I believe that separation and growth between the rhomboid muscles and middle and lower traps is best achieved by emphasizing the stretched position in a seated cable row, or any row for that matter! Simply sit down next to a seated cable row machine, grasp the handle and fasten yourself feet firmly in front of you. Now pull row the weight so as to get a complete peak contraction and slowly lower it until in a stretched position. At this point hold for the appointed amount of time. I prefer a good amount of weight on the stack, for a maximum stretch. This technique can be done with t-bar rows, bent over rows etc.
High Pulley Stretch Low Pulley Stretch T- Bar Row Stretch
Shoulders and Upper Traps
1. Medial Deltoid Stretch – There are a few ways to perform this. The key is to place your arms at your sides. Then keeping your arms straight move them behind your back and try and bring them together. It is similar to behind the back side laterals( the starting position ), except you do not have dumbbells. From here have your partner assist you in pressing your arms together. This will maximally stretch the side deltoid. You can also grasp a low cable pulley, stand up and allow the pull from the weight stack to stretch your side deltoid. A third way to perform this would be to use a wall as a focal point and simply lean into the wall for resistance in the stretched position. Finally you can lie down on a bench as you would when performing lying dumbbell held to the rear laterals, and simply hold the dumbbell in the lower aspect of the exercise( this can be done on incline as well).
Stretch Behind The Back Dumbbell Stretch While Lying Dumbbell Stretch While Lying On An Incline
2. Front Deltoid Stretch – Grasp a pair of dumbbells in a hammer position and lie back on an incline bench. Allow your arms to lean all the way backward, producing a maximum stretch in the anterior deltoid. Now hold for appointed amount of time.
Incline Front Delt Stretch
3. Front Deltoid Stretch Two – Find a stationary bar of sorts. It may be the smith machine bar. Now turn facing away from it and grasp it with your palms down. Walk forward slowly until your delts are maximally stretched.
4. Trap stretches – Grasp a pair of heavy dumbbells as if you were going to shrug them. However, you will simply lower the weight down until your traps are maximally stretched. This can be done with dumbbells, and a barbell to the front and back. I also recommend cable shrugs in the stretched position. As a side note, if you grasp one dumbbell and lower it till fully stretched, and then move your neck to the opposite side of the body, it can not only add to the trap stretch, but also expand the connective tissue surrounding the medial deltoid.
Cable Shrug Stretch Behind The Back Shrug Stretch
1. Quad Expansion – The absolute best way to expand the connective tissue around your quadriceps is to utilize seated thigh stretches. Simply knee down and separate your feet enough so that you can sit between them. Put your hands on the floor behind you and lean back as far as possible, feeling the stretch in the quadriceps.
seated quadriceps stretch
As a variation you can spread your legs out further to hit the inner thighs. The most painful variation and probably most effective is the no handed stretch. Bring your feet together so that you have to sit on them, and not between them! Now fold your arms( or place them behind you ) and lean back, using your bodyweight as resistance to the stretch! Try these after a drop set on leg extensions and your quads will literally explode in ways you never imagined possible!
1. Seated Forward Hamstring Stretch – Personally this is my favorite way to enlarge the bag surrounding the hamstring region. Sit with your legs together, extended out in front of you. Bend forward at your waist and reach as far forward as possible! You will need your training partner to apply pressure from behind. The whole point is to expand the connective tissue, and for this to happen, pressure needs to be applied. You can also use variations such as spreading your legs all the way out to either side.
1. Oh The Pain – Calves are on a par with quadriceps as far as the pain goes while stretching them. The absolute best method of expanding the permimysium, epimysium and fascia is to use the lower position of a specific exercise. I believe that standing calf raises and leg press calf raises are the best( when in the bottom position and held ) for the gastrocnemius( upper calves). However, seated are most effective when stretching the soleus( lower calf ). Simply stand or sit underneath the calf raise machine, get a peak contraction and then lower the weight until a maximum stretch has been reached. Now hold for an appropriate amount of time. Be sure and use as many variations as possible for maximum growth!
standing calf machine stretches seated barbell calf stretches
barbell stretches – Simply grasp a barbell with an underhand grip for the forearm flexors and an overhand for the extensors. Wrest your arms on your knees so that your wrists can hang off the edge. Now slowly lower the weight until a maximum stretch has been achieved. Hold for specified amount of time. As with all the above, use as many variations a possible! My personal favorite variation is the barbell over a bench stretch!
barbell stretch across a bench dumbbell one arm stretch squatting two arm dumbbell stretch
Incline/flat stretch – The two single best stretches for the biceps are the bottom positions of both incline and flat dumbbell curls. Simply sit or lie back on the bench, curl the weight up and lower slowly until a maximum stretch has been reached in the biceps. The second front delt stretch using the bar above is also an excellent way to expand the connective tissue in this area.
Incline dumbbell stretch lying dumbbell stretch
1. Old School Stretches – Anyone who has used Old School extensions will attest to the extremely painful stretch produced by the exercise. I personally feel that this is one of the absolute best ways accomplish our extreme goal today in the triceps region. To do this lay on a flat bench with your arms extended behind your head. The movement starts out in the same position as a dumbbell pullover. Bend your elbows back until they almost touch the floor. From here allow the weight to completely stretch the triceps to their maximum!
Old School Triceps Stretch
2. Pre-Extension Stretch – This simply emphasizes the lower portion of any form of triceps extensions. I prefer dumbbells as it allows for a greater stretch and they are easy to control. Grasp a pair of dumbbells and lay back on a bench. Extend both arms straight upward and then lower the dumbbells slowly to either side of your head. Hold until stretch is complete.
lying dumbbell stretch incline dumbbell stretch
These are excellent examples that will increase your mass by leaps and bounds! The main reason why I prefer weights( for most bodyparts) for this process, is because I feel they are superior when attempting to accomplish the goal laid out in this article. Take a look at Arnold Schwarzenegger′s pecs. He would get the pump of his lifetime and then stretch his pectorals using dumbbell flys held in the lower position of the movement just as I am suggesting you to do! The Oak could actually touch the floor with his arms, and he arguably has the best chest in the history of the sport and certainly the most effective! Tom Platz is the same way, and no one argues the fact that he had by far the freakiest quads in the history of the sport!
Vital Nutritional Aspects In Deep Tissue Manipulation!
In order to maximize this process you will need to heighten both recovery and the pump! A massive pump must take place during the workout or you will not accomplish your desired goal, therefore you must emphasize this nutritionally. This is why I suggest implementing fascial stretching on bulks and not emphasizing this procedure on a cut. You simply will not get maximized gains. You need to be carbed completely up, or the pump will not be sufficient. Therefore I recommend 4-6 carb rich meals a day for this process. If you are on a low carb diet, then carbing up before your workout will also suffice. Creatine and glutamine further assist the pump dramatically! Hydration is also a must. You need to drink water like it is going out of style. Lastly, drink a huge post workout shake, chalk full of sugar immediately after training to refill glycogen stores.
A well balanced diet will speed recovery, and so will vitamin C! This gem has been shown in several studies to increase the healing process of connective tissue. Seeing how this is the goal, it would behoove you to take a minimum of 2-3 grams a day, not including post workout.
Yours In Sport
Jacob Wilson [email protected]