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Overloading the Stretch Position

I honestly believe that the key to stimulating growth via lifting exercises is to know how to overload the muscle when it is stretched; the more force you can put on your body in that state (without injuring it of course) the more you’ll grow.

Forget peak contractions, it is the STRETCHED position that is key.

I’m not saying that some movements performed while holding the peak contraction for a few seconds will not help grow muscle, it does… to some extent. I’m merely saying that if you could only do one thing to stimulate growth, it should be overloading the stretch position.

There are several ways of doing that, but they all come down to being able to maximize force production at the turnaround point of an exercise (when you switch from eccentric to concentric OR from static to concentric):

  1. The perfect rep: I already brushed on this one. The perfect rep should always be performed with the fastest turnaround possible; a snappy turnaround insure maximum force production with a given weight.

  2. Reps from a dead start in the semi-stretched position. Starting a movement from pins (or something similar) while the target muscle group is stretched, but not excessively so (to reduce stretch-reflex participation as much as possible) forces the muscles to produce all of the strength required to overcome the inertia of the barbell; this necessitate a very important muscle contraction and is very effective at stimulating growth.

  3. Eccentrics (negative) with a turnaround: Negatives with 90-110% of your max do have a very important growth-enhancing potential. It’s a misunderstood method and because of that, it is misapplied most of the time. People assume that the benefit of the eccentrics occur during the first 3rd of the lowering action, that lowering the weight as slowly as possible will cause more damage.

However this is not the case; the reason why eccentrics can work well is that they allow you to reach the stretch position with a heavier resistance than normal (thus the potential to increase overload in the stretch position). BUT, if the eccentric portion is not followed by a turnaround (shift to concentric or isometric action) then you will lose most of the benefits of the eccentric action.

So what you need to do is, when you complete the eccentric phase you must attempt to lift the weight. There is a very good chance that you can’t do that because you are either using a supramax weight or are doing 3-5 reps with 90-100% which means that by the 2nd rep you will not be able to lift the load. But simply attempting to lift the weight (then having your partner help you) will give you a forceful turnaround which will overload the stretch position.

  1. Twitch reps: by doing very rapid, short-range movements, in which you try to accelerate both during the concentric and eccentric while having a snappy turnaround will allow you to overload the stretch position via speed. Both phases of the movement are super fast, which leads to a very high force production at the turnaround, despite using a light weight. In fact, twitch reps will be more effective if a lighter weight (10-20%) is used as it will allow for much more speed in both direction.

when talking about the semi-stretched position would rack pulls, and floor presses be good exercises to emphasize the muscle?

Also how do you feel about full ROM as far as performing normal reps? I have always stopped short of lockout and only do about half ROM, I have always felt that this smaller ROM allows me to generate more force on the concentric and keep muscle under constant tension. Is this a good idea, or does the constant tension not matter quite as much?

Interesting!

Where would you fit the negatives work ? It seems like you can destroy the CNS if fit improperly.

Let’s say a spec phase on pressing:

(all preceded by some kind of activation)
Day 1
1 primary movement ramp to 3
1 secondary movement ramp to 3

Day 2
1 secondary movement ramp to 3

Day 3
1 primary movement ramp to 3
1 secondary movement ramp to 3

Where would negatives go and for how many sets ?

[quote]Thy. wrote:
Interesting!

Where would you fit the negatives work ? It seems like you can destroy the CNS if fit improperly.

Let’s say a spec phase on pressing:

(all preceded by some kind of activation)
Day 1
1 primary movement ramp to 3
1 secondary movement ramp to 3

Day 2
1 secondary movement ramp to 3

Day 3
1 primary movement ramp to 3
1 secondary movement ramp to 3

Where would negatives go and for how many sets ?[/quote]

Hey Thib,

Same kind of question pops in my mind…just how much volume could be too much when combining CNS-taxing moves like clusters from dead-stop, trun-about negative reps or ramp sequences, when combined with preactivation work like drop& catch, twitch reps…throwing in the fat grip work on top of that.

I’m asking because i’m a sucker for volume work…never seems enough for me…My last arm workout looked like something like this:

For Biceps
A-Ramping up the weight on barbell curl for 6 clusters of 3X1, with a few feel sets

B-Ratchet ramp on dumbell curls 1/3 for four sets with fat grip

C-3-4 Extended clusters of 4X 3-3 alternating 3 drop & catch BB curl and 3 ballistic curl

For Triceps
Repeating A, B and C with either pressing or elboow extentions variations.

Now tell me, is the volume okay, or am I fucking myself up? Crazy strength gains in the first two weeks of doing it, but this week I’m plateauing to the same weigth as last.

Does this mean that exercises such as incline bench DB curls and skullcrushers with the elbows beyond perpendicular to the ground are superior for growth because they stretch the muscles more than other exercises? Or is the extra stretch unnecessary?

For the deadlift, would you advise doing dead-stop pulls for each rep instead of touch-and-go?

Would that be the optimal way overload the stretch position for that movement, or does it really depend more on the individual, as you noted that ACTrain and Nate Green had vastly different reactions to the use of each method…

Awesome, so by reading this, I am really begining to think that I am getting a hang of this concept. I have been focusing on turnaround speed with a snap and it really does have a different feeling on the muscle after the load then a “normal” rep. And the stretch position makes a lot of sense, I am going to try some more of these methods today.

Thanks for all the tips CT, you’re really helping us out here.

[quote]Marther wrote:
Does this mean that exercises such as incline bench DB curls and skullcrushers with the elbows beyond perpendicular to the ground are superior for growth because they stretch the muscles more than other exercises? Or is the extra stretch unnecessary?[/quote]

You do not need extra stretch. Too much stretch actually reduce force potential in the initial portion of the range of motion which kinda goes against the max overload of the stretch position. You want to stretch a muscle, while still being in a strong position when doing the turnaround.

I just wanted to say thanks for all the info you give us on a daily basis CT… has encouraged me to think outside the box…

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Marther wrote:
Does this mean that exercises such as incline bench DB curls and skullcrushers with the elbows beyond perpendicular to the ground are superior for growth because they stretch the muscles more than other exercises? Or is the extra stretch unnecessary?

You do not need extra stretch. Too much stretch actually reduce force potential in the initial portion of the range of motion which kinda goes against the max overload of the stretch position. You want to stretch a muscle, while still being in a strong position when doing the turnaround.[/quote]

So does this mean you would be against ATG squats?

Mechanically, most muscles will produce less force if they are fully stretched or if the joint is greater than 90 degrees.

Damn straight same here, always blowing my mind here on TMuscle!!

Anyways, CT, I can imagine you have answered this question, but for twitch reps, they are an activating activity to prime the CNS hey? So doing them right in the beggining of a workout for a particular muscle group would be favourable with the application of a fairly light weight?

[quote]the pale writer wrote:
I just wanted to say thanks for all the info you give us on a daily basis CT… has encouraged me to think outside the box…[/quote]

Same here.

It’s early days as to how effective I’ll find all this stuff (hey it’s just healthy cynicism) but I’m putting full faith in you Thibs and I will owe you many thanks when I’m jacked up!

Keep it up man you’re probably more appreciated than you realise.

Thanks for your really good posts here, CT!
1.
If doing Excentrics with turnaround-try:
How long yould you suggest to lower the weight? 8-10sec.?

If someone trys to get 3-5 reps:
how long “rest” does he have between the reps?

I ask, because if you train alone, you lower the weight with about 110%max.
Then decrease the load to 80-85%(or less) lift it up and increase the weight again to 110%max to lower it in a excentric again. the changin weight would take time, too much time?

CT, you said you dont need “so much extra stretch” because of the inhibition (GTO).
Does this just count for dead-start exercises i.e. rackpulls, benchpulls, floor deadlift?

[quote]PonceDeLeon wrote:
Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Marther wrote:
Does this mean that exercises such as incline bench DB curls and skullcrushers with the elbows beyond perpendicular to the ground are superior for growth because they stretch the muscles more than other exercises? Or is the extra stretch unnecessary?

You do not need extra stretch. Too much stretch actually reduce force potential in the initial portion of the range of motion which kinda goes against the max overload of the stretch position. You want to stretch a muscle, while still being in a strong position when doing the turnaround.

So does this mean you would be against ATG squats?

Mechanically, most muscles will produce less force if they are fully stretched or if the joint is greater than 90 degrees.[/quote]

Obviously most people will be weaker when going ATG, I personally am not mostly because of my olympic lifting background.

I do recommend going below parallel, but not so low as you lose your lumbar arch

[quote]Diluted56 wrote:
Damn straight same here, always blowing my mind here on TMuscle!!

Anyways, CT, I can imagine you have answered this question, but for twitch reps, they are an activating activity to prime the CNS hey? So doing them right in the beggining of a workout for a particular muscle group would be favourable with the application of a fairly light weight? [/quote]

Yes, use around 10-20% and focus on speed.

[quote]NumbInfinity wrote:
Thanks for your really good posts here, CT!
1.
If doing Excentrics with turnaround-try:
How long yould you suggest to lower the weight? 8-10sec.?
[/quote]

NO! About the same speed as you normally lower the weight, maybe SLIGHTLY slower during the first 2/3rd of the phase, but the last 1/3rd is the same speed as a regular rep. Certainly don’t go above 5 secs.

[quote]NumbInfinity wrote:
2.
If someone trys to get 3-5 reps:
how long “rest” does he have between the reps? [/quote]

Ideally none, just like a regular set. Otherwise simply start up as soon as you can. A rest of up to 10 secs. will not hurt

CT what do you think about a training day i m doing…

-goodmorning squats 6 x 3-5 reps negatives 5 seconds
-deadlifts to romanian deads 6 x 3-5 reps negatives 5 sec.
-push press (same reps same negs)

  • 1 leg box squats 6x3-5 rep 5 sec negs
    -forward lean dips to triceps dips 6x 3-5 5 sec negs
    -hang cleans to rev curls 6x 3-5 5 secs negs

all the concentric is explosive…while the eccentric is 5 seconds negatives.
It looks like it targets few stuff you talk about…

Thanks

Chris, <- I hope you take no offense being called by your first name.

Q. Can you incorporate a combination of the 4 overloading principle in a training session.

Example

Twitch Reps: one would use them to warm the muscle OR also they could be used to blasters finishers.

Perfect Rep: I explored the perfect rep approach on medium weight of 80 KG (Deadlift) and I have to say that in mid flight while executing the set there was something profound. Even as I type this, I trying to remember that feeling when there was no weight to lift just a power explosion buzz.

I am also going to assume that any of the 4 overloading principles are both dependent on exercise and body type. ( The reason I am assuming this is that, I remember reading something Poliquin said " depending on someones physical profile certain exercises will be of beneficial to then and some will yield less favorable results)

Thanks for the knowledge

[quote]Charles3264 wrote:
CT what do you think about a training day i m doing…

-goodmorning squats 6 x 3-5 reps negatives 5 seconds
-deadlifts to romanian deads 6 x 3-5 reps negatives 5 sec.
-push press (same reps same negs)

  • 1 leg box squats 6x3-5 rep 5 sec negs
    -forward lean dips to triceps dips 6x 3-5 5 sec negs
    -hang cleans to rev curls 6x 3-5 5 secs negs

all the concentric is explosive…while the eccentric is 5 seconds negatives.
It looks like it targets few stuff you talk about…

Thanks

[/quote]

Not only that, looks like your trainer has read my second book as many of the two-movements technique exercises are explained in the book. Either that or he is even smarter than I thought!

I would like to see more autoregulation regarding sets, but the rest is very good.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Charles3264 wrote:
CT what do you think about a training day i m doing…

-goodmorning squats 6 x 3-5 reps negatives 5 seconds
-deadlifts to romanian deads 6 x 3-5 reps negatives 5 sec.
-push press (same reps same negs)

  • 1 leg box squats 6x3-5 rep 5 sec negs
    -forward lean dips to triceps dips 6x 3-5 5 sec negs
    -hang cleans to rev curls 6x 3-5 5 secs negs

all the concentric is explosive…while the eccentric is 5 seconds negatives.
It looks like it targets few stuff you talk about…

Thanks

Not only that, looks like your trainer has read my second book as many of the two-movements technique exercises are explained in the book. Either that or he is even smarter than I thought!

I would like to see more autoregulation regarding sets, but the rest is very good.

[/quote]
Thanks CT
Seriously i dont know if he has read your books,( ill ask him) but i know that he has a lot of knowledge(strenght and powerlifting)…and like i said earlier its crazy how it made good results.

Can you please explain me the autoregulation part please…thanks(french guy here :frowning: