Every muscle we have is covered by a tissue called fascia. It’s there for a particularly good reason, to hold your muscles in the right places in your body. Muscle fascia can also do a job in restricting muscle growth, because when your muscles grow to a certain point the tough fascia tissue constricts further growth. They simply have no room to grow!
A very simple analogy used is if you where to have two balloons and you blew one up inside of another. When the inside balloon is being blown up and eventually grows large enough to touch the second outer balloon it then becomes restricted and difficult to keep growing.
Stretching is the answer
Now imagine that balloon scenario again, but instead pretend that you stretched out the outer balloon first, giving room for the second inside balloon to grow larger. That’s essentially what we’re getting at in terms of stretching your muscles and doing it quite frequently. By stretching your muscles you also stretch the fascia tissue. This is why many bodybuilders swear by deep tissue message therapy. Stretching and loosening up that tough fascia can help you grow!
Now, the best time to do your stretching for growth is not when your muscles are cold. Stretching to loosen up and avoid injury is fine, but the stretching we’re focusing on is while we have a huge pump going. When our muscles are chalk full of rich blood and pressing against that fascia, we need to get full muscle contractions at the peak of our lifts, but also get a deep and full stretch at the bottom.
For example, if you’re doing dumbbell flys for your chest workout, when you bring the dumbbells down at the bottom of the movement, slowly go into a deep stretch and hold for a second or two, the explode up to the peak of the movement and squeeze tightly for a full contraction. This kid of inter-set stretching is vital for expanding and softening the fascia.
Between your sets when your muscles are pumped, continue to stretch and flex to continue this effort of expanding the fascia tissue. Hold these stretches between sets for 30-40 seconds, but be very careful not to pull a muscle by doing these movement to harshly. They should be executed slowly and with concentration.