Stretching vs. Lifting for Chest Gains Vol.2 | Biolayne
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  3. Stretching vs. Lifting for Chest Gains Vol.2

Stretching vs. Lifting for Chest Gains Vol.2

Influence of 8-weeks of supervised static stretching or resistance training of pectoral major muscles on maximal strength, muscle thickness and range of motion
Wohlann et al. (2024)
Stretching vs. Lifting for Chest Gains vol.2


What did they test? Researchers investigated the effects of a static stretching program on the pectoralis major muscle, focusing on changes in maximal strength, muscle hypertrophy, and flexibility.
What did they find? The study found significant improvements in all measured parameters—strength, muscle thickness, and flexibility—for participants in both the static stretching and resistance training groups.
What does it mean for you? Although it may seem like static stretching is a viable alternative for traditional lifting, things are not as simple as they may seem. Traditional resistance training remains much more accessible than high intensity static stretching and also comes with a plethora of health benefits that stretching does not offer.

What’s the Problem?

In recent years, the fitness and health science community has been exploring the benefits of static stretching not just as a warm-up or cool-down activity, but as a potential main form of exercise for improving muscle strength, size, and flexibility, something that we’ve touched on previous REPS issues 1 2. As we’ve mentioned, traditionally, static stretching has been known to enhance joint range of motion (ROM), but recent research has found that specific types of static stretching, usually of high intensity 3, can also increase both strength and muscle size. 

Although we do have some data on the calf musculature and stretching for growth, the effect of stretching on chest growth remains unexplored. A previous study that we had reviewed for REPS had found that relatively prolonged static stretching did indeed lead to chest strength increases but the authors did not include an assessment of muscle hypertrophy. The study in focus seeks to expand on these findings by specifically investigating the effects of static stretching on the pectoralis major and minor muscles—areas previously less explored. 

Understanding whether stretching can actually meaningfully contribute to muscle growth and strength can have very important implications both for recreational lifters but also for fitness practitioners that work with untrained/sedentary populations (eg: the elderly). Additionally, an issue with the current literature is that stretching intensity is often subjectively measured by an individual's pain perception, which can affect the outcomes of such exercise routines. 

All that aside, this new study by Wohlann et al aims to help clear things out a bit!

Purpose & Hypothesis

Building on the hypothesis that targeted static stretching can rival traditional resistance training in enhancing muscle strength, thickness, and flexibility, this study compares the effects of a dedicated stretching routine for the chest muscles against conventional weight lifting. Moreover, since full-range resistance training is known to improve ROM 4, the study evaluated whether a stretching-based regimen can offer similar, if not better, improvements in shoulder ROM.

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About the author

About Dr. Pak
Dr. Pak

Pak is the Chief Editor of REPS, an online coach and a researcher. Pak did his PhD at Solent University in the UK on “the minimum effective training dose for strength”. As a Researcher, Pak is a Visiting Scholar in Dr. Schoenfeld's Applied Muscle Development Lab in New York City. Pak's research focuses on all...[Continue]

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