Does Weighted Stretching Build Muscle?
Does Weighted Stretching Build Muscle?
During my research for the recent article on the Weighted Dips
Do not perform any weighted stretch until you've adequately warmed up or worked the target muscle group.

Does Weighted Stretching Actually Increase Muscle Mass?

The majority of research on weighted stretches involves hanging weight(s) from the wings of birds. Researchers used a spring-loaded tubular assembly to stretch the wing muscles of four chickens and found that "Muscles grew in length and cross section in proportion to the extent to which they were stretched". [1] Thus, a greater duration and intensity of stretch led to larger increases in muscle mass.

Interestingly enough longitudinal muscle growth topped out after one week but cross sectional muscle growth continued for more than five weeks. Furthermore, the weighted stretches did not decrease nerve activity, immobilize, or increase activity in the muscles but it did increase oxidative enzyme activities. [1] This means that weighted stretches aren't necessarily going to cripple or injure you, assuming they're performed safely and with proper programming.

In a study of seven adult quail, researchers hanged a weight equal to 10% of the quail's bodyweight to the left wing for 24 hour periods followed by 48-72 hour rest period for a total of 5 days of stretching and a total study duration of 15 days. They found that this protocol increased muscle mass 53.1% (+/- 9.0%) and muscle length 26.1% (+/- 7.3%).

[caption id="attachment_14184" align="alignright" width="280"]MTS Vasky Double down on your gains my adding Vasky to your pre-workout. Bodyweight Lunges

How to Implement Weighted Stretching Into Your Routine

If you're looking to implement weighted stretches, the list below provides exercises organized by target muscle group. Do not perform any weighted stretch until you've adequately warmed up or worked the target muscle group.

This typically means performing weighted stretches after performing all exercises targeting that specific muscle group. Alternatively, you can group all weighted stretches at the end of the workout and perform them back-to-back.

Hold all exercises in the bottom/stretched position for 10-30 seconds. Perform 1 to 3 sets and do not go to absolute failure; you should feel an intense stretch but shouldn't need spotters to assist you in racking the weight.

Target Muscle Group:

  • Chest - Dumbbell Fly or Parallel Bar Dip
  • Lats - Dumbbell Pullover or (Weighted) Pull-up
  • Traps/Upper Back - Dumbbell or Barbell Shrugs
  • Biceps - Incline Dumbbell Curl
  • Triceps - Overhead Dumbbell or Rope Triceps Extension
  • Shoulders - Dumbbell Pendular Swirls*
  • Hamstrings - Stiff Legged Deadlift
  • Quadriceps - Sissy Squat or Lunge
  • Lower Back - 45 Degree Back Extension or Good Morning
  • Calves - Standing or Seated Calf Raise
*There are limited weighted stretches for the shoulders, but pendular swirls can be extremely effective. To perform, "lean forwards with your forearm supported on a table or bench. Keeping your back straight and your shoulder relaxed, gently swing your arm in circles clockwise." [7]

Repeat the exercise but switch directions and swing your arm in circles counter-clockwise. Perform this exercise for both arms, one arm at a time.

Now that we've introduced the concept of, examined research around, and provided suggest exercises for weighted stretches, take this knowledge and apply it. If you decide to incorporate weighted stretches in to your routine, let me know in the comments below!
References
1) "Stretch-induced Growth in Chicken Wing Muscles: a New Model of Stretch Hypertrophy. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2015. 2) "Role of Muscle Fiber Hypertrophy and Hyperplasia in Intermittently Stretched Avian Muscle. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2015. 3) "Progressive Stretch Overload of Skeletal Muscle Results in Hypertrophy Before Hyperplasia. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2015. 4) "Muscle Fiber Formation and Fiber Hypertrophy During the Onset of Stretch-overload. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2015. 5) "Hypertrophy and Proliferation of Skeletal Muscle Fibers from Aged Quail. - PubMed - NCBI."National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2015. 6) "Skeletal Muscle Fiber Hyperplasia. - PubMed - NCBI." National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2015. 7) "Shoulder Stretches - Shoulder Flexibility Exercises - PhysioAdvisor." PhysioAdvisor - Physiotherapy, Sports Injuries, Diagnosis, Treatment - Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Aug. 2015.