By Nick Nilsson
Author of Muscle Explosion - 28 Days to Maximum Mass
Muscle fiber hyperplasia is one of THE single most powerful concepts when it comes to building muscle.
It means splitting muscle fibers into MORE muscle fibers, rather than just growing the size of the ones you've got.
If you stop and think about that for a moment and let it sink in...it's an awesome concept. Because the more muscle fibers you've got, the easier it is to build muscle mass in general.
More fibers = more growth potential.
In fact, one of the reasons some people seem to gain muscle faster and easier than other people comes down to this simple axiom...they just have more muscle fibers.
So it stands to reason, if you could take somebody with fewer fibers and somehow train them so that their fibers split to make more fibers, they would immediately ALSO have greater growth potential.
THAT is what the training style I'm going to show you is all about.
Does Hyperplasia Happen In Humans?
The straight answer is we don't really know for sure...
First off, hyperplasia is tough to measure. You essentially have to chop a muscle in half and count the number of fibers manually.
This HAS been done in animal studies (birds and cats) where the animals were subjected to long-term stretch overload on one limb with fiber counts being compared to the non-worked limb. And yeah, I don't anticipate a lot of volunteers for human trials of this...
The results seen in these animal studies, however, were downright ASTONISHING.
In a study performed by Dr. Jose Antonio and W.J. Gonyea [Journal of Applied Physiology September 1, 1993 vol. 75 no. 3 1263-1271], in addition to a muscle mass increase of 318% (yeah, not kidding) on the stretch-loaded limb, muscle fiber NUMBER also increased by 82%.
Now, the training protocol for the birds in that study isn't something that can be directly replicated in humans. It's simply not practical.
That being said, I've come up with a training protocol that I believe COULD potentially result in hyperplasia in humans.
And I'll tell you right up front, it's NOT going to be easy. In fact, it's going to be downright BRUTAL. But if you're up for the challenge and you'd like to be one of my "Mad Scientist" lab rats, please read on and give this technique a try.
How To Do Stretch Exercise Overload Training...Is It The Key to Hyperplasia in Humans?
Stretch Exercise Overload Training is essentially my Compound Exercise Overload technique done with a few modifications.
First, instead of a compound exercise, we're going to be performing a STRETCH-focused exercise for the target muscle.
Second, on every single rep, you'll be holding that maximum stretch position for at least 3 to 5 seconds.
That's pretty much it...the rest is exactly the same. I would definitely encourage you to read through the original article to get an idea of how it's done and why it's so effective. I'll give you a brief rundown of it here as well.
Here's how to do Stretch-Overload Training for hyperplasia...
1. Select a stretch-focused exercise for your target bodypart.
I've listed the best ones to work with first, then a few other bodyparts that aren't really well-suited to this style of training.
Biceps - Incline Dumbbell Curls
Triceps - Bodyweight Tricep Extensions or Overhead Extensions
Pecs - Dumbbell Flyes
Lats - Dumbbell Pullovers or Stiff-Arm Pushdowns
Hamstrings - Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
Calves - Donkey Calf Raises
Quadriceps - Sissy Squats (these can be tough on the knees and may not work for everybody)
Shoulders - Unfortunately, there aren't really any good stretch-focused exercises for delts.
Abs - I don't see any need to create more muscle fibers in an area that you want to keep as compact as possible
2. Pick a weight you can get about 6 to 8 reps with on the target exercise.
In the demo I'm going to show you, I'll actually be working both biceps AND triceps, switching back and forth between the two. This is fine on smaller muscles...for larger muscles, I would recommend working just that muscle.
3. Perform 3 reps of the exercise
Or, in the case of biceps and triceps here, the first exercise. Because we're using isolation exercises, we're going to be taking a bit shorter rest than in the Compound Exercise Overload technique. In that case, you take 30 seconds rest.
In THIS case, you'll be taking 20 seconds rest (if doing just one muscle). If you're doing two exercises, take 10 seconds rest in between the exercises (it's shorter because the antagonistic muscle will have some recovery time while you're working the agonist).
4. Perform ANOTHER set of 3 reps
Or go to the second exercise, if working two muscle groups. Be VERY sure you're holding the stretch for at least 3 to 5 seconds on each rep. This is critical as it's the mechanism by which hyperplasia happens. And yeah, I know it's not pleasant...I told you it wasn't going to be a walk in the park.
5. Keep repeating these 3 reps sets until you can no longer get 3 reps.
Now reduce the weight by 10 lbs (or 5 lbs each if using dumbbells) and keep going. In the case of bodyweight exercises like the extension exercise, you'll simply move your feet in a little closer to the bar to reduce the resistance. It's not as exact, but it's still effective as long as you're getting the stretch.
6. When doing two bodyparts, alternate back and forth between 3 rep sets for each for the duration of the workout.
When doing one bodypart, go straight through on that one exercise, just reducing the weight when needed.
You will perform this workout for 40 minutes. That's right...40 minutes of stretch-focused training. THAT is the extreme overload that I believe is needed to achieve hyperplasia.
Where To Go From Here...
This is a workout unlike any other you've probably experienced. This focus on mechanical breakdown of the muscle fibers under massive volume stretch overload to basically force them rupture and split is a process that no other training program that I'm aware of targets.
In the context of working this technique into a "normal" training program, I would suggest using this style of workout once or twice a week for any particular bodypart. It is very demanding on the structures of the body and the nervous system (though less so than the Compound Exercise Overload training, because of the lighter weights used).
If you're going to work it twice, keep the next workout for that muscle separated by at least two days.
If you're REALLY ready to take it to the next level, I've got the program that'll do it. I call it Muscle Explosion - 28 Days to Maximum Mass and it integrates this Stretch Exercise Overload training as a core component of the training.
Instead of doing this training once or twice a week, you'll be doing it for 5 DAYS STRAIGHT.
You will also be utilizing a strategic depletion and rebound framework to force massive amounts of nutrients and water into the muscle cells while performing this training to (hopefully) help expand the target muscle to that splitting point.
And I'll be honest with you...this program is one of the TOUGHEST programs I've ever done, both physically AND mentally.
But if you're looking for a new way to challenge yourself and blast through a growth plateau, there's absolutely no better approach I've found than the Muscle Explosion approach.
Muscle Explosion - 28 Days to Maximum Mass
This ground-breaking program is all about blasting through plateaus by putting the body into a "grow or die" situation. You'll combine targeted nutrition with MASSIVE strategic overload and training techniques designed to literally FORCE your body to build muscle mass.
This program is not for the faint of heart...but if you're willing, the results you get will be BEYOND anything you've experienced in the gym before.
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