Your muscles can only grow as far as the fascia -- constrictive connective tissues encasing and holding your muscles in place -- can allow. Also, the natural aging process leads to loss of muscles over time. Under the right conditions, however, proper stretching of muscles causes the fascia to extend, allowing your muscles to grow bigger. Perform stretches at least twice weekly. Seek your doctor’s advice before performing extreme stretching exercises.
The cable crossover stretch forces the fascia in your chest and the pectorals to extend, allowing for muscle growth. Begin by choosing a weight that will make it difficult for you to go beyond the eight- to 10-repetition range. Extend your arms to the center, and then let them come back to a position at which your chest experiences an intense stretching effect. Repeat the exercise for three to five times. Engage different chest areas by performing the cable crossover stretch at different angles.
The standing chest stretch, if properly performed, helps extend your chest fascia, creating room for your chest muscles to grow. With your toes pointing forward, stand with your legs apart at hip width, allowing your arms to relax at your sides. Gently pull your shoulders backward and downward. Do not arch your lower back. Exhale and raise your chest as you rotate your shoulders back and forth. Perform the exercise for 10 to15 seconds. Rest for five to 10 seconds and repeat the set at least three times.
Sissy squats are a relatively advanced quad exercise that stretches your thigh muscles. Begin by standing upright and lowering your body toward the ground, allowing your knees and pelvis to move forward. Lower yourself until your butt almost touches your heels with your feet flat on the floor and upper arms resting on your knees. Hold this position for four to five seconds, before straightening your legs as you stand. Make eight to 10 reps for three to five sets.
The standing calf raise stretch engages your calf muscles. Set yourself up on the standing calf raise machine -- which should be mounted with sufficient weight to make it difficult for you to proceed beyond the eight- to 10-repetition range. Contracting your calves at the top, slowly lower yourself until your heels are below the foot platform and you feel significant stretching in your calves. Maintain this position for 30 to 60 seconds before dismounting from the machine. Repeat three to five times.
The dumbbell trap stretch works out the fascia in your abdominal and chest muscles. Take a dumbbell of suitable weight in one of your arms. Lower the dumbbell until you feel an intense stretch on that side. Maintain that position for 30 to 60 seconds. For optimal results, tilt your head to the opposite side.