“Fascia Stretching to build muscle you say??” Surely there’s something more fun and important I could be doing?
If you’re anything like me and into muscle building, you tend to develop an obsession with finding any little things that could potentially help you to build that bit of extra muscle. Usually when trainee’s tend to look for extra ways to build muscle, they tend to go for the common stuff – The latest, expensive scam supplement or the newest, craziest workout they can find in Flex magazine.
But today I’m going to explain to you the concept behind fascia stretching of all of your muscle groups – Now if you’re anything like most of the people I talk to about “stretching”, you may roll your eyes and not be very interested. After all you don’t see any immediate, visual benefit from stretching and you just seem to experience discomfort (Fascia stretching can get REAL uncomfortable and being the good Samaritan, I’m gonna show you exactly how!).
Well, what if I told you that stretching could actually put some quality,lean mass on your frame. Would you be interested then? What if I told you that studies had been done that found stretching to cause hyperplasia – Cell division of your muscles – Yeah, that’s right your stretches just gave birth to a whole bunch more baby muscles for you to grow and nurture. Convinced about the power of stretching yet?
Now if you bear with me, I’ll teach you something that I feel played a major part in putting on a ton of muscle on to my frame in 11 weeks..And that is extreme muscle fascia stretching.
I first heard the concept of muscle fascia stretching from Dante (I implemented a lot from that guy) and Jason Ferrugia also explains this concept really well in his Muscle Gaining Secrets Program(<– Which I highly recommend for fast muscle building!) – To explain it to you simply, you have muscle fascia that sits as connective tissue surrounding your muscles keeping everything bundled together. Kind of like a sheet of thick armor covering them.
Among other things, the muscle fascia is what is thought to be one of the limiting factors of muscle growth. This makes sense. I mean think about it..if there is nowhere else for the muscle to go, where can it go? It would just bump up against the muscle fascia and have no room for growth.
So what can we do to counteract that? Yeah, you guessed it – We can STRETCH the living daylights out of our muscle fascia until they let us have some more muscle growth!
(When I say “living daylights”, it’s a figure of speech! I don’t want any injuries so be careful!)
Over time I’ve noticed tremendous results with this kind of stretching – Within 6 weeks you’ll notice a huge difference in your physique, especially if you’re an intermediate trainee who may just be coming up to that point where your fascia has started being difficult!
But How Can We Stretch Our Muscle Fascia Effectively?
Unfortunately, your static 15 second maintenance stretches aren’t going to get the job done. You are not only trying to maintain your muscle fascia’s flexibility but you’re also trying to push it past it’s previous point to allow more muscle to grow in the space it leaves.
Now rule number 1 is to MAKE SURE YOUR BODY PART IS PUMPED straight before you go into your extreme fascia stretch for muscle building. We want that tight, pumped up feeling of our muscles pushing up against the fascia because this way we’re already
In all honesty, this isn’t going to be pretty and is quite uncomfortable. BUT HEY you’re into muscle building, not twiddly winks! This is what you signed up for upon entry!
Most of the stretches here need to be held for at least a minute to be effective (or as long as possible – I personally take 20 deep breaths and each deep breath is at least 4-5 seconds) depending on the stretch. You need to be really honest with yourself during these stretches..if you can sink deeper, then you MUST do it as excruciating as it can become. Of course, you should know the difference between injury and an intense stretch. A good rule of thumb is that your joints shouldn’t hurt in a stretch.
So without further a do, you wanna know some stretches to show your fascia a good time? I’m your man..
Extreme Chest Fascia Stretch – Dante recommends holding two dumbbells at the bottom of the dumbbell flye position. Trust me you’ll feel this..unfortunately I felt it on my shoulder joints too (mine aren’t great anyway) so I now modify this to use a seated or laying chest press machine. What I do is adjust the handles so that they are as far back as they can go – Then I slot myself in and get my hands behind the handles (This is a squeeze, you might need somebody to help with the initial push) and then I just let the handlebars push against me while holding the stretch in the bottom position. Use about 1/2 the weight you would normally press. If it’s too easy and the stretch is too light, move up in weight.
Shoulders – I never stretch my shoulders using the extreme method as the stretch recommended always hurt my shoulders but for some of you it may be ok. You basically turn your back on a bar and then reach back to grab it with your palms face down on top of it. Then slightly walk out and bend your knee’s until you feel a stretch in your shoulders.
Biceps – I like just sitting down against an inclined bench letting two dumbbells hang by my side. Your biceps will feel like they’re about rip open!
Triceps – You can do this in two ways. The first is with a towel – Grab one end of a towel and let it hang over your shoulder and behind your back. Now reach behind you with your other hand and grab the bottom of the towel. Start pulling it downwards as hard as you can. You’ll feel your triceps starting to burn. 60 seconds and then you swap arms.
The 2nd method is to use a single dumbbell. You can either do one tricep at a time or both. Let me explain it if you were doing both arms at the same time. First grab one end of the dumbbell by making a diamond grip with both of your hands. Now lift the dumbbell above your head lower it as far down your back as you can. To intensify the stretch you MUST sit up as tall as possible and also try to push your neck back to add an even greater stretch to your triceps.
Either one of these methods for tricep fascia stretching is fine.
Quads – I made this one up and it’s a killer if I may say so myself. Now normally we’d grab behind one leg and stretch it as you balance with the other leg. Well we don’t want to worry about balancing. So I want you to find something that can replace your hand. I normally use the rollers on a hyper-extention machine to put my laces on. Now I want you to simply use your oppositte standing leg and lunge down by bending your knee. You’ll feel an intense stretch in the leg that is being propped up on the rollers.
Lats – I have a pretty funky one here that I learned from some Poliquin students – It works a charm though. I want you to sit back into your heels and reach as far forward as you can. This puts you in a standard lower back and lat stretch but here’s the twist. I want you to gently creep over towards one side with your fingers..Try to still keep your arms outstretched. You’ll feel an intense stretch in the opposite from where you’ve just crawled to. We’re not finished. Now I want you to take your opposite hand (if you crawled over to the right, use your left hand for this) and I want you to try and creep a little further forward with the fingers of that opposite hand. Ever felt a lat stretch like that before?? Now do the same on the other side.
Hamstrings - I can do the simplest stretch for my hammy’s and it would still be classed as the super-duper-painful-death-torture-extreeeeeme stretch. Literally my least favorite stretch. A standard hamstring stretch works for me but if you want something extra, prop your heel up onto a bar or a high step. Now your foot that’s on the floor inwards (This makes a hell of a difference) and try to keep your back straight while using your hips as a hinge as you lean over. This should make you cry..
Calves – These are supposed to get a good stretch when we do calf raises at the bottom portion of the movement but it isn’t enough for me. If I don’t stretch my calves, my squats are effected quite badly. I just simply find a ledge and let my heels hang off of it for as long as I can whilst holding on to something and leaning forwards. This is excruciating enough for me. Try a mixture of foot positions to hit your gastronemius and the soleus (turn your foot inwards as you stretch to hit the soleus portion of your calf)
Traps – Another tight part of mine. For this one I like to stand up and open up my whole body. Stand up tall and pull your shoulder blades back and down (retract them) and also have your palms facing forwards at all times. Keep them held in this position as you drop your neck slowly down to the side. To intensify the stretch you can use your opposite arms to push your neck gently down a little further. These trap stretches will help to stop your head from jutting forward and keep you standing nice and tall.
There you have it – Your extreme muscle fascia stretches that should have you crying for mommy….but looking like Arnie!
Try these stretches out after you’ve completed your last exercise for each bodypart and let me know how it goes.
As always comment below and let’s talk about it!