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Stretch-Focused Training: The New "Hack" That'll Help You Gain Muscle Fast?

by Jeremy Ethier - October 29, 2022

We all want to gain muscle fast. But for a long time, us "natties" could only rely on pure hard work, determination, and consistency to get there. There were no hacks ... until stretch-focused training. Learn more below.

Want to gain muscle fast? Well, you might be able to grow your muscles almost twice as fast as you are right now — and still remain “natty”. How? With what I like to call “stretch-focused training”.

A training technique that has seemed to crack the code to muscle growth.

I’ve even started experimenting with it, and honestly, it seems like it’s working. Don’t just take my word for it, though. I’ve assembled my elite crew of researchers to:

  • Dive into the science
  • Separate the truth from the fad AND
  • Figure out the best way to use the training to build muscle faster
Gain muscle fast research team

So continue reading to learn more about how to gain muscle fast with stretch-mediated hypertrophy.

By the way: this isn't the only "hack" that'll help you gain muscle fast. There are many other aspects of your training and nutrition you could optimize to speed up your gains. Good news: I cover them all in my Built With Science programs. Want to discover what they are? Take the quick analysis quiz below to discover the best program for you and your body:

Click the button below to take my analysis quiz to discover the best program for you:

What Is Stretch-Mediated Hypertrophy? How Does It Work?

Before diving into the practical, let’s explain the concept behind “stretch-focused training”, so you understand how it helps you gain muscle fast.

Whenever you lift weights, your muscles contract to lift the weight up and then stretch in order to lower the weight back down.

But something special seems to happen when your muscles become stretched under load. The muscles can sense the stretch in the contractile units and, in response, kickstart a complex process that tells the body to build more muscle.

This is what researchers now term "stretch-mediated hypertrophy". The stretching of the muscle under load is what drives muscle growth.

Now, we’ve known of this theory for a while.

It’s why in most cases, such as with squats, using a full range of motion to get a deeper stretch in your muscles leads to more growth than using a partial range of motion.

But not until fairly recently has more specific research actually put this theory to the test. The findings were quite surprising, even to me.

Let’s dive into what we found and then discuss what it means for your training, plus how you could make use of it to gain muscle fast.

Evidence That Stretch-Focused Training Could Help You Gain Muscle Fast

There are 4 studies I want to look at, with each of them testing a different muscle group.

Studies On Performing Only The Bottom Part Of An Exercise (Where The Muscle Is Stretched)

The first two tested what would happen if you only performed the bottom part of an exercise where the muscle is stretched.

Study #1: Preacher Curls

One of the two, published just last year, tested this using preacher curls and assessed the growth in the biceps after 5 weeks. The result? The subjects that performed only the bottom half of the curl experienced 2.6x more biceps growth than those who only performed the top half of the curl.

Gain muscle fast by focusing on the bottom half of the movement bicep curls

Cool, right? Well, here’s where it gets even cooler.

Study #2: Leg Extensions

Another study also published just last year replicated an almost identical design. But this time, on the leg muscles using leg extensions. They randomly assigned participants to three groups:

  • The bottom half of the leg extensions
  • The top half of the leg extensions
  • Full range of motion

They measured the growth of the quad muscles at four different sites.

After 12 weeks, growth at almost all of the measurement points was greater for the group that only performed the bottom half of the leg extension.

Gain muscle fast by focusing on the bottom half of the movement bicep curls leg extensions

Now, these two studies highlight the importance of the bottom position of your exercises if you want to gain muscle fast because that’s when your muscle is stretched the most.

We’ll talk about what this means for your training later on.

Studies On Exercises That'll Give The Target Muscle A Greater Degree Of Stretch

But before that, what about exercises that can put your muscles into an even more stretched position than traditional exercises do?

Would those exercises lead to more growth than others?

Here are 2 studies that tested just that.

Study #3: Cable Pushdowns Versus Overhead Cable Extensions

The first study was done on the triceps.

In this case, subjects had one arm assigned to cable pushdowns, whereas the other arm was assigned to overhead cable extensions.

They performed these exercises twice a week. To avoid favoring one arm over the other, during every workout, the subjects alternated which arm they trained first.

Based on the stretch-focused training theory, since the overhead position places one of the triceps’ heads, the long head, into a position of a greater stretch when compared to pushdowns where your elbows remain by your side, it would be the more effective exercise.

But what actually happened?

Well, after 12 weeks, the overhead arm experienced about 1.5x more growth. Not just in the long head of the triceps but surprisingly in all three heads of the triceps.

Gain muscle fast by focusing on exercises that maximize stretch triceps

Study #4: Seated Leg Curls Versus Lying Leg Curls

The last study I want to cover was done on the hamstrings. In this case, there were two groups of subjects, each assigned a different exercise.

One group did seated leg curls, and the other group did lying leg curls.

Now, since three of our four hamstring muscles go from the hip down to the knee, a seated position stretches them into a longer length than a lying position does.

Based on this, can you tell which exercise came out on top?

You guessed it! After 12 weeks, the seated leg curls provided significantly more growth in these three hamstring muscles than the lying leg curls.

Alright, we’ve covered all the research showing support for how stretch-focused training could help you gain muscle fast. Now let’s dive into the practical.

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How To Apply Stretch-Focused Training To Your Routine To Gain Muscle Fast

How exactly do you go about applying all this so you can gain muscle fast?

Easy. There are 3 training tips I have for you.

But before we dive into those tips, I do want to mention that science is always changing and evolving, especially in new fields of research.

As of now, I do believe there’s sufficient evidence supporting that what I’m about to share with you could help you gain muscle fast. Or, at the very least, enough for you to start experimenting with it, especially because there are no real downsides to them.

But as someone who appreciates science, I must also be willing to be wrong and change my thoughts when new science comes out.

We’ll see how science develops in the next few years, and if you give me a follow on Instagram here, I’ll keep you guys updated with new research and my personal results. But for now, let’s dive into these tips.

#1: Perform A Full Range Of Motion On Your Exercises

The first tip applies to all your exercises. We know how important the bottom position of an exercise seems to be for growth, so don't cut it short.

So, if you want to gain muscle fast, here's what to keep in mind when performing your exercises:

Gain muscle fast by focusing on the full stretch on every exercise

Beyond all these tips, to gain muscle fast, you'll also have to make sure you're actually controlling the weight down to the bottom position, and then when you get there, don’t cheat or bounce out of it using momentum.

It’s often one of the hardest parts of the movement, and you’ll be tempted to cheat but don’t. Control the weight and remember that it’s potentially the most important part of the movement for growth.

#2: Be Mindful About Your Exercise Choice When It Comes To "Bi-Articulate" Muscles

The next tip for you if you want to gain muscle fast has to do with your exercise selection.

To be honest, you don’t need a bunch of special exercises that will provide more “stretch-mediated hypertrophy” in your training. You’re already doing them.

The tried and true exercises like bench presses, curls, and squats all put your muscles in a deep stretch position, given that you perform them with a full range of motion.

However, as we discussed earlier, there are some muscles that can potentially benefit from being stretched to a greater degree.

These are what are known as “bi-articulate” muscles.

These muscles cross over two joints rather than just one and, as a result, can be positioned in a way that stretches them even more than normal. So for these muscles, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing an exercise that puts them into that position of “extra stretch”.

But until more muscle groups and exercises come up in future research, here are the 4 muscles and exercises I’d be comfortable recommending you incorporate, so you gain muscle fast.

  • Hamstrings and triceps: As we saw earlier, using exercises like seated leg curls and any sort of triceps overhead extensions can provide a greater stretch and lead to more growth.
How to gain muscle fast for biarticulate muscles like the hamstrings and triceps
  • Biceps: One of its heads, the long head, can be positioned into an even greater stretch by performing a slight incline curl or a behind-the-body cable curl. Although there isn’t direct evidence on this yet, it does seem likely to provide a benefit (i.e., could help you gain muscle fast). Looking for sleeves-exploding biceps? This article will show you how to get your biceps big.
How to gain muscle fast for biarticulate muscles like the biceps
  • Glutes: While there’s no direct evidence yet, Romanian deadlifts, squats, and split squats will likely be your best bet if you want to gain muscle fast since they challenge your glutes in that all-important stretched position.
How to gain muscle fast for biarticulate muscles like the glutes

#3: Try Lengthened Partials (Advanced Technique)

Last but not least, we have more of an advanced tactic that I like to call “lengthened partials”.

Given how important the bottom position seems to be for growth, why not spend even more time in it? Here’s one way of doing that that'll help you gain muscle fast.

Before I share the technique, though, just realize you don’t want to use this on big exercises like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses, and you also don’t want to do this very often since it can be quite fatiguing.

But every now and then, such as during your very last set for a “safe” exercise such as a dumbbell press, flyes, leg extensions, triceps extension, and biceps curl, try this out.

After you reach the point where you can’t do any more full range of motion reps, continue your set by performing half reps at the bottom position to stress your muscle in that stretched position until you reach failure.

Gain muscle fast with lengthened partials

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If you guys can’t tell, I’m obsessed with doing everything possible to gain muscle fast, so I maximize the time and effort I spend at the gym.

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But since then, I’ve expanded the team, collaborated with experts, continued mastering my craft, and stayed up to date with new research.

I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve been wrong about a few things along the way, but there isn’t a teacher better than failure.

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I'll also recommend you give the following articles a read; they'll guide you through common exercises mistakes to fix so that you gain muscle fast:

By the way, here’s the article summed up into a YouTube video:

How To Build Muscle 1.5x Faster (NEW RESEARCH)

Stretch-Focused Training: The New "Hack" That'll Help You Gain Muscle Fast?

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