What Is the Workout That Lengthens Your Muscles?

Stretching is the best workout to lengthen muscles.
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When it comes to lengthening your muscles, nothing is more effective than stretching. Muscles shorten, or get tight, for two main reasons: inactivity and hard workouts. Spending hours sitting wreaks havoc on muscles throughout your body. Over time, these muscles shorten, leading to a tight feeling and a decreased range of motion. During a workout, your muscles repeatedly shorten to increase tension. After they contract, they relax and the muscle lengthens. Yet, improper hydration, nutrients or fatigue may cause muscles to remain shortened.

Types of Stretches

Certain types of stretches are more effective at lengthening muscles than others. Every stretch is either active or passive and dynamic or static. Static stretching occurs when you hold a muscle in an elongated position for anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute. Dynamic stretching is active stretching where you move a muscle in a slow and controlled fashion through a range of motions, typically 10 to 12 times. When you contract the muscle opposite the one you are lengthening, you are performing an active stretch. If you use your body weight, a strap, a partner or a device to achieve a stretch, you are performing a passive stretch.

Best Stretches to Lengthen Muscles

The various stretching styles affect your muscles differently. When it comes to lengthening muscles, perform a static stretch for 30 seconds. This style of stretching not only increases muscular length but it also improves flexibility. Your muscle spindle is the part of your muscle responsible for detecting changes in length. During a static stretch, the sustained period permits your muscle spindle to relax, allowing for greater muscle length. To maximize length, repeat the static stretch three times. The greatest increase in muscular length occurs within 15 minutes of completing this routine, according to an article published in “Sports Medicine” in 2007.

Stretching Considerations

Any time you bend or straighten a joint, muscles connected to it shorten and lengthen. In any workout, such as running, cycling or lifting, muscles throughout your body are constantly lengthening. If you are fatigued, dehydrated or malnourished, your muscles may not be able to lengthen properly. These muscles can tear if you force them to elongate under these conditions.

Ballistic stretching is a bouncing approach to lengthening your muscles, such as toe touches. The jerky, bobbing movement produces undesirable tension on your stretched muscles and connective tissue and can be detrimental to muscle lengthening.

Muscle Lengthening During Workouts

While stretching always lengthens muscles, only certain cardio and strength-training workouts do the same. An eccentric contraction is the lower phase of an exercise, such as lowering a dumbbell during a biceps curl or running downhill. During this type of exercise, your muscles fibers contract but cannot generate as much force as the resistance they are being placed under. This extra tension forces your muscles to lengthen. Sports with the most eccentric movements include football, gymnastics, swimming, figure skating and downhill skiing.

Workouts such as yoga and Pilates also lengthen your muscles. During these workouts, you move your body through a series of poses or positions that lengthen your muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and tendons. Unless you move muscles through their full range of motion, they can become shortened and limit your mobility. Regular practice helps you maintain normal muscle length.

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