Are you curious about extreme stretching?
Do you wonder how to use heavy loaded stretches to build size and strength?
Then you've come to the right place.
In this comprehensive guide, I will show you how to use extreme stretching to take your physique to the next level!
- Part 1: DC Training Extreme Stretches
- Part 2: Mountain Dog Style Extreme Stretches
Extreme stretching is a technique where you hold a stretch with extra weight to stimulate size and strength gains in a muscle. Bodybuilders have used extreme stretches sense at least the 1950s to build muscle mass.
In recent years many bodybuilding coaches including Dante Trudel and John Meadows have popularized extreme stretching for advanced bodybuilders.
Here is Dante Trudel describing this unique training method:
“Extreme stretching is putting the muscle in a stretched position under load for a period of time.”
Dante Trudel and John Meadows use two completely different strategies for stretching out their muscles. Dante Trudel likes his athletes to hold static stretches with extra weight for at least 60 seconds in a row.
For example here is IFBB pro Dusty Hanshaw demonstrating an extreme stretch for the upper back:
Dusty’s goal is to hold this extreme stretch for at least 1 minute. He is literally letting the weight pull his body down to stretch out his lats.
This type of extreme stretch can be very effective when the target muscle is already fatigued and pumped full of blood.
Here is the bodybuilding coach Christian Thibadeau explaining why extreme stretches are so effective for building muscle mass:
“The three ways extreme stretches work to stimulate muscle growth is they trigger mTOR activation and because there is a very slow eccentric, it also increases the production of IGF-1 because blood cannot come into get the metabolites out of the muscle.
It also makes those IGF-1 receptors more sensitive to the hormone. It also creates a lot of muscle fiber fatigue which stimulates a lot of growth in the fast-twitch muscle fibers.”
The bottom line is these static extreme stretches are extremely effective for building muscle mass. The bodybuilding coach John Meadows has another way that he likes to perform extreme stretches.
Instead of performing a static stretch for 60 seconds he likes to incorporate heavy stretches into his full range of motion exercises.
For example here is John Meadows demonstrating an extreme stretching exercise for his upper back:
John’s training partner is literally pushing down on the weight stack in the top position of the exercise to stretch out his upper back.
For a split second John has the full weight of the machine plus the extra resistance his partner is adding. This is a tremendous way to stretch out the lats for extra growth. John has many different strategies for incorporating extreme stretches into his regular exercises.
John says the key is to not go overboard with the stretches and to make sure they complement the rest of your workout. Check it out:
“When you train a muscle in the stretched position it’s very easy to over-do it.
If you spend too much time in the stretched position or go too heavy it actually creates a lot of muscle damage and I don’t necessarily think you need a lot of it. Just a little bit goes a long way.”
Who’s right? Are you better off using long extreme stretches like Dante Trudel or more dynamic extreme stretches like John Meadows?
The truth is both of these approaches produce results in the real world. I recommend you study both of these styles and then pick the one you think will work best for you.
Part 1: DC Training Extreme Stretches
DC Training is a high-intensity bodybuilding training program invented by Dante Trudel. DC Training uses many advanced training methods like rest-pause sets and extreme stretches to help you build muscle mass and strength as fast as possible.
For most body parts you are going to perform 1 rest-pause set to failure followed by an extreme stretch.
Dante says that the extreme stretches are a huge part of the program. Check it out:
“Extreme stretching definitely does something special for a great many people… I’ve gotten 1000’s of emails to prove that point and I know its not a placebo effect… I believe highly in its merits.”
Here are some of the best DC-style extreme stretches that you can perform in the gym:
The Best Extreme Stretches For Every Body Part
- Extreme Stretch: Chest
- Extreme Stretch: Shoulders
- Extreme Stretch: Triceps
- Extreme Stretch: Back
- Extreme Stretch: Biceps
- Extreme Stretch: Hamstrings
- Extreme Stretch: Quadriceps
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular DC-style extreme stretches. One of the most popular extreme stretches is the chest extreme stretch. You are going to hold the bottom position of a dumbbell fly for at least 60 seconds.
Here is Dusty Hanshaw demonstrating the chest extreme stretch:
Chest Extreme Stretch
For this exercise you have to lift your chest up as high as you can and pinch your shoulder blades back together. If you perform the exercise correctly then you will feel a massive stretch throughout your entire chest.
Dante says if you can make it to 90 seconds then you are his hero because almost no one ever makes it that long. This extreme stretch can be performed after your DC-style rest-pause set for chest or at the end of a high-volume chest workout.
Just make sure your chest is pumped full of blood before you attempt it.
The triceps extreme stretch is another fantastic exercise. Dante Trudel says the best way to stretch out your triceps is to use an exercise where your elbow is above your head.
Here is Dusty Hanshaw demonstrating a great triceps extreme stretch:
Triceps Extreme Stretch
This stretch can be performed with dumbbells or even cables. The choice is up to you.
I know there is some “science guy” somewhere in the world who thinks this is ridiculous. “Why would you hold the bottom position of an overhead triceps extension to build your triceps? What is that supposed to accomplish?”
The scientific literature surrounding extreme stretches is still developing but there is a TON of research showing that extreme stretches stimulate muscle growth through many different cellular pathways.
Here is Dante Trudel dropping a science bomb on the bodybuilding world:
“This is what we do know as various studies have told us…..under various circumstance a stretched muscle under load has produced hyperplasia, an increase in IGF-1, an increase in MGF (2 very potent growth factors), increased protein synthesis, and increased the long-term production of prostaglandin F2 alpha, an anabolic stimulator of myofiber growth.
I've gotten reports of (for lack of better terms) “an enhanced roundness” with extreme stretching particularly in the chest, quads, triceps. It's very rare you get someone who doesn’t report beneficial results.”
Now let’s look at stretches for the upper back. The “hanging lat stretch” is probably the most popular extreme stretch in the world.
Many bodybuilding coaches like John Meadows have incorporated this stretch into their routines with great results. Check it out:
Back Width Extreme Stretch
Dusty Hanshaw is giving a perfect demonstration of this stretch. The basic idea is to hold the bottom position of a wide grip pull up. Your job is to relax your arms until you feel a huge stretch in your lats.
Many bodybuilders swear by this exercise for improving the width of their back. In fact the legendary bodybuilder Chuck Sipes used this extreme stretch as his primary upper back builder all the way back in the 1960s!
Dante Trudel says you should slowly increase the amount of weight around your waist. Many of his clients have worked up to using a 120-150 pound dumbbell on their dipping belt and it shows! You can also perform extreme stretches for your lower body.
One of the most effective ones is the quads extreme stretch. Check it out:
Quads Extreme Stretch
This stretch is harder than it looks! The basic idea is to stand up on the balls of your feet and slowly push your knees forwards while pushing your upper body backwards. If you perform this exercise correctly then you will get a very deep stretch in your quads.
The bottom line is DC-style extreme stretches are an unbelievably effective way to stimulate muscle growth. But they are not the only way to incorporate extreme stretches into your routine…
Part 2: Mountain Dog Style Extreme Stretches
Mountain Dog Training is a bodybuilding training program invented by John Meadows. John uses many different training methods in his program to help you build as much muscle mass as possible.
One of his favorite techniques is actually extreme stretching. John likes to use loaded stretches towards the end of his routines once the target muscle has been pumped full of blood.
Instead of performing extreme stretches he actually incorporates them into more full range of motion exercises. John either incorporates a deep stretch on each rep or holds a static stretch for 10-30 seconds right at the end of one of his regular sets.
John says that you don’t have to go all-out with these stretches – a little bit goes a long way. Check it out:
“You don’t need real crazy heavy weight to work through the range of motion and you don’t need an excessive number of sets. You just need 1-2 really good sets of these and it will get the job done.
The key is to pick the right exercises. If you pick a bench press, there’s really not much of a stretch on your pecs. Pick the right exercise that allows you to really get that good stretch.”
Now let’s look at some of John’s favorite ways to incorporate extreme stretches for each body part. John Meadows uses a ton of different extreme stretching strategies for his chest.
One of his favorite strategies is to perform a set of 10 reps on the flat dumbbell press and then hold the bottom position of the exercise while his training partner pushes down on the dumbbells. Check it out:
John Meadows Chest Stretch
This is a very creative strategy! When Jeff Nippard pushes down on the dumbbells at the end of the set he is actually increasing the amount of eccentric stress on John’s chest.
Just think about it: the dumbbells are now falling down to the ground faster than the speed of gravity. This is very similar to how bands work. Using an extreme stretch as a post-failure training technique is a very effective way to stimulate chest growth.
John often uses a very similar strategy for his triceps exercises.
Here is a great video of John performing an extreme stretch for his triceps right at the end of his set on overhead triceps extensions. Check it out:
John Meadows Triceps Stretch
Talk about an intense triceps set! John only holds his extreme stretch for 10 seconds but that is more than enough to get the muscle-building benefits from this technique.
One of the advantages of using the extreme stretch right at the end of your set is that you don’t have to use as much weight to get a great training effect.
With DC-style extreme stretches you are often using a weight that is greater than your 1-rep max on the exercise! That is obviously a powerful stimulus for size and strength gains but it also takes a bigger toll on our recovery ability.
When you perform Mountain Dog style extreme stretches at the end of your set you don’t have to use nearly as much weight.
John also likes to incorporate extreme stretches into his sets on each repetition. One of his favorite strategies is to use “stretch pulldowns” where your training partner adds extra manual resistance in the top position of the exercise to really stretch out the lats. Check it out:
John Meadows Stretch Pulldowns
Talk about a powerful training method! Instead of adding extra manual resistance at the end of the set like we saw in the chest video John is actually adding manual resistance on every single rep!
As soon as the bodybuilders arms start to straighten out John adds a little bit of downward pressure on the weight stack which further stretches out his partner’s lats. This is almost like performing a mini extreme stretch on every single rep.
If you want to learn more about how John incorporates extreme stretches into his workouts then make sure you check out my article “Mountain Dog Training: The Ultimate Guide!”
I go into all of these topics in much greater depth in that article.
Extreme stretching is one of the most powerful training tools that you can use in the gym. The work great for building size and strength and they can also be used to increase your flexibility and decrease your risk of injury.
Dante likes to use extreme stretches as a separate exercise with relatively heavy weights. This strategy is very powerful but some bodybuilders find it to be a little too intense.
John Meadows has a less extreme version where you perform the extreme stretch right at the end of your sets or in the middle of your sets with extra manual resistance from a training partner. Both of these strategies work for building muscle mass.
The important part is to find the one that will work for you!
Here is one more quote by Dante Trudel on extreme stretching to pump you up even more:
“I’ve had too many people write me or tell me in person that the “extreme stretching” has dramatically changed their physique to ever doubt its virtues.”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!