Stretch to Grow
When you think about gaining
muscle, stretching is probably not the first thing that pops
into your head. But did you know that stretching plays a
critical role in building muscle?
Every muscle in your body is
enclosed in a bag of tough connective tissue known as fascia.
Fascia is important for holding your muscles in their proper
place in your body. But your fascia may also be
holding back your muscle growth. Think for a moment about your
muscles. You train them and feed them properly. They want to
grow and will grow but something is holding them back. They
have no room to grow! Because fascia is so tough, it
doesn't allow the muscle room to expand. It is like stuffing a
large pillow into a small pillowcase. The size of the muscle
won't change regardless of how hard you train or how well you
eat because the connective tissue around your muscles is
constricting the muscles within.
The best example of this is the
calf muscle. The lower leg is riddled with fascia because of
its tremendous weight-bearing duties in the body. It is
because of this fascia that many trainers have great
difficulty developing their calves. The solution: stretching.
Stretching is one of the most
under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance,
preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain
and strain injury. Don't make the mistake of thinking that
something as simple as stretching won't be effective.
Using the pillowcase example
from above, imagine you can expand the size of the pillowcase
by stretching it. Suddenly, the pillow within has more room
and will expand to fill that new space. By stretching your muscles
under specific conditions, you can actually stretch your
fascia and give your muscles more room to grow.
The key to effective fascial
stretching is the pump. The best time to stretch to expand the
bags that are holding in your muscles is when your muscles are
pumped up full of blood. When your muscles are fully
pumped up, they are pressing against the fascia. By stretching
hard at that time, you increase that pressure on the fascia
greatly, which can lead to expansion of the fascia.
One of the major reasons Arnold
Schwarzenegger had such incredible chest development was that
he finished his chest workouts with dumbbell flyes, an
exercise that emphasizes the stretched position of the
pectoral muscles. He would pump his chest up full of blood
during the workout then do flyes, holding the stretch at the
bottom of the flye. This gave his chest room to grow to
Fascial stretching is more
rigorous than regular stretching but the results can be
amazing. When you stretch hard enough to cause the fascia to
expand, you will really feel it! When you are stretching the
fascia, you should feel a powerful pulling sensation and
pressure as the muscle works against the fascia to expand it.
Be sure you do not stretch so
hard that you cause the muscle to tear or cause injury to
yourself. You will rapidly learn to distinguish the difference
between a good stretch and a bad stretch. You should not feel
any sharp pain, just a steady pull.
Hold each stretch for at least
20 to 30 seconds as you must give your fascia time to be
affected by the stretch. Stretch hard like this only when you
have a fully pumped muscle as you must give your fascia a
reason to expand. If your muscles aren't pumped, just stretch
One set of hard stretching
after each set you do for a muscle group, besides the obvious
benefits of increased flexibility, can have an incredible
effect on the size of your muscles and their further ability
Nick Nilsson, president of
Better U, Inc.
Read Any Good Books
My wife and I
couldn't be more different when it comes to books.
She'll burn through romance novels and Nora Roberts books in
a few days, while I'm constantly picking up those health and
fitness reference books to keep up on the latest material.
I recently picked up
a great reference book called Eat This Not That by
David Zinczenko of Men's Health and thought I would give you the
411 and my thoughts on this book. My overall opinion?...
Well worth the money! Although the list price is $19.95,
you can pick it up at Costco or BJ's wholesale for $15ish.
When I'm on the run
with my daughter, chauffering her to the activity of the evening
and we happen to stop by McDonalds for a quick happy meal, I try
to be "good" and get a Chicken McGrill or club. Well it
turns out that the chicken club has 570 calories, 21g fat (7g
saturated) and 1,720mg sodium compared to a quarter pounder that
has 410 calories, 19g fat (7g saturated), 730mg sodium.
Although I try to stay away from McDonalds altogether, I will
opt for the less damaging meal next time!
A Whopper with
cheese has 760 calories & 47g fat whereas the Big Mac has 540
calories & 26g fat... that's a savings of 200 calories and 29g
fat... you'd figure "The King" would be a little chunkier with
those kind of numbers!
These are the types
of comparisons that make up the heart of the book. Simple
and direct match-ups that show you the difference between meals
at most of your favorite restaurants. In addition, this
book has some great chapters with a wealth of information that
can be used on a daily basis (if you are THAT neurotic)..
1: 8 foods you should eat everyday - plus 20 you
should avoid at all costs.
2: At your favorite restaurants (the best and
3: Menu Decoder - strategies for eating right at
4: On holidays and special occasions
5: At the supermarket
6: Drink this not that - healthy beverage guide
7: What to eat when you're tired, stressed, or
in the mood - the right foods for every situation
8: Eat This Not That for Kids
Fitness gives Eat This Not That a big 2 thumbs up and
although I wholeheartedly recommend this book, a word of
caution: if you would rather not know the damaging facts
about your favorite restaurant foods... don't buy it!
Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!
Single Leg Calf
Whether you're wearing shorts or a dress, your lower legs are
always sticking out and when someone is walking behind you,
they can typically tell that you are in shape if you have some
well defined calves! The calf muscle is the "forearm" of
your leg and is used to push your heel off of the ground (plantarflexion).
There are a variety of ways to perform a calf raise. You
can do them with 1 leg or 2, standing or seated, from a step
or just on the ground, with a dumbbell in your hand, etc...
Using a step as pictured above is your best bet to allow for full
range of motion of your ankle joint.
Description: Begin a
calf raise by positioning the ball of your foot (or feet) on a
step. Drop your heel down as far as you can while still
keeping your foot on the step. Contract your calf and
raise your heel up as far as you can while maintaining contact
with the ball of your foot on the step.
What Sup? - Fish
Fish oil is oil
derived from the tissues
of oily fish.
However, fish do not actually produce omega-3 fatty acids,
but instead accumulate them from either consuming microalgae
that produce these fatty acids, as is the case with prey
fish like herring
or, as is the case with fatty predatory fish, by eating prey
fish that have accumulated omega-3 fatty acids from
microalgae. When reviewing the contents of a fish oil
supplement, be sure to look for contents that don't come
from a "fish farm". Fish farms mostly feed the fish
corn meal or a related fish food, which means that they are
not getting the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids that result
from the consumption of microalgae.
Studies are published almost
daily as the scientific community discovers more and more of
the many omega 3 fish oil benefits. If you haven't already been
swept up in the net yet, here are 7 proven omega 3 benefits
you should know about.
1. Less Pain and
Inflammation. Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly EPA,
have a very positive effect on your inflammatory response.
Through several mechanisms, they regulate your body's
inflammation cycle, which prevents and relieves painful
conditions like arthritis, prostatitis, cystitis and
anything else ending in "itis."
2. Cardiovascular Health.
Omega 3 fatty acids have also been proven to work wonders
for your heart and the miles and miles of arteries and veins
that make up your cardiovascular system. They help to lower
cholesterol, tryglicerides, LDLs and blood pressure, while
at the same time increasing good HDL cholesterol. This adds
years to your life expectancy.
3. Protection from Stroke
and Heart Attack. When plaque builds up on arterial
walls and then breaks loose, it causes what's known as a
thrombosis, which is a fancy way of saying clot. If a clot
gets stuck in the brain, it causes a stroke and when it
plugs an artery, it causes a heart attack. Research shows
omega 3 fatty acids break up clots before they can cause any
4. Better Brain Function
and Higher Intelligence. Pregnant and nursing mothers
can have a great impact on the intelligence and happiness of
their babies by supplementing with fish oil. For adults,
omega 3 improves memory, recall, reasoning and focus. You'll
swear you're getting younger and smarter.
5. Less Depression and
Psychosis. Making you smarter is not all omega 3 does
for your brain. Psychiatry department researchers at the
University of Sheffield, along with many other research
studies, found that omega 3 fish oil supplements "alleviate"
the symptoms of depression, bipolar and psychosis
(Journal of Affective Disorder Vol. 48(2-3);149-55).
6. Lower Incidence of
Childhood Disorders. Many children are deprived of
essential nutrients that fish oil provides. Studies show that children (and
adults) with ADD and ADHD experience a greatly improved
quality of life. And those with dyslexia, dyspraxia and
compulsive disorders have gotten a new lease on life thanks
to omega 3 oils. Fish oil has also been found to
improve concentration, learning, language skills and
increase test scores.
7. Reduction of Breast,
Colon and Prostate Cancer. And finally, omega 3 fish oil
has been shown to help prevent three of the most common
forms of cancer – breast, colon and prostate. Science tells
us that omega 3s accomplish this in three ways. They stop
the alteration from a normal healthy cell to a cancerous
mass, inhibiting unwanted cellular growth and causing
apoptosis, or cellular death, of cancer cells.
So you can see why knowing
these benefits is the second most important thing you can do
for your health. Can you guess what number one is? That's right! Now it's time
to put your knowledge to work. Eat more cold water oily fish
and start taking good quality pure omega 3 fish oil regularly.
April showers bring May flowers,
so what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims! (ba dum dum)
I know, that was bad, but that's ok... it's my newsletter
and I can be corny if I want to. Seriously though...
May... flowers... spring... what's not to like? How's
that beach body of yours coming along? Summer will be
here before we know it!
Let me just reinforce my
stance on diets... I'm against them! There are a ton
of never-fail "diets" out there and people have successfully
dropped 10, 20, 50 pounds by following them. Then they
complain when they go off the diet and gain all the weight
back, if not more. No kidding... when you slash your
calories, and then add them back, what do you think will
happen? Like I said, diets provide a quick fix
solution, but "lifestyle changes" are what are going to get
you leading a healthier life with lasting results.
Eating better and getting regular exercise are lifetime
habits that you're going to want to embrace if you want to
realize the benefits.
For prior issues of this
newsletter go to
requies that we stretch beyond where we've been before. ”
- Dan Sullivan
youtube video of the month -->
Peace by Inches