Interset Stretching vs. Traditional Strength Training: Effects on Muscle Strength and Size in Untrained Individuals

J Strength Cond Res. 2019 Jul;33 Suppl 1:S159-S166. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003036.


Evangelista, AL, De Souza, EO, Moreira, DCB, Alonso, AC, Teixeira, CVLS, Wadhi, T, Rauch, J, Bocalini, DS, Pereira, PEDA, and Greve, JMDA. Interset stretching vs. traditional strength training: effects on muscle strength and size in untrained individuals. J Strength Cond Res 33(7S): S159-S166, 2019-This study compared the effects of 8 weeks of traditional strength training (TST) and interset stretching (ISS) combined with TST on muscular adaptations. Twenty-nine sedentary, healthy adults were randomly assigned to either the TST (n = 17; 28.0 ± 6.4 years) or ISS (n = 12; 26.8 ± 6.1 years) group. Both groups performed 6 strength exercises encompassing the whole body (bench press, elbow extension, seated rows, biceps curl, knee extension, and knee flexion) performing 4 sets of 8-12 repetition maximum (RM) with a 90-second rest between sets. However, the ISS group performed static passive stretching, at maximum amplitude, for 30 seconds between sets. Both groups performed training sessions twice a week on nonconsecutive days. Muscle strength (i.e., 1RM) and hypertrophy (i.e., muscle thickness [MT] by ultrasonography) were measured at pre-test and after 8 weeks of training. Both groups increased 1RM bench press (p ≤ 0.0001): ISS (23.4%, CIdiff: 4.3 kg-11.1 kg) and TST (22.2%, CIdiff: 5.2 kg-10.9 kg) and 1RM knee extension (p ≤ 0.0001): ISS (25.5%, CIdiff: 5.6 kg-15.0 kg) and TST (20.6%, CIdiff: 4.4 kg-12.3 kg). Both groups increased MT of biceps brachii (BIMT), triceps brachii (TRMT), and rectus femoris (RFMT) (p ≤ 0.0001). BIMT: ISS (7.2%, CIdiff: 1.14-3.5 mm) and TST (4.7%, CIdiff: 0.5-2.5 mm), TRMT: ISS (12.3%, CIdiff: 1.1-4.4 mm) and TST (7.1%, CIdiff: 0.3-3.1 mm), and RFMT: ISS (12.4%, CIdiff: 1.1-2.9 mm) and TST (9.1%, CIdiff: 0.7-2.2 mm). For vastus lateralis muscle thickness (VLMT) and sum of the 4 muscle thickness sites (ΣMT), there was a significant group by time interaction (p ≤ 0.02) in which ISS increased VLMT and ΣMT to a greater extent than TST. Vastus lateralis muscle thickness: ISS (17.0%, CIdiff: 1.5-3.1 mm) and TST (7.3%, CIdiff: 0.7-2.1 mm), and ΣMT: ISS (10.5%, CIdiff: 6.5-9.0 mm) and TST (6.7%, CIdiff: 3.9-8.3 mm). Although our findings might suggest a benefit of adding ISS into TST for optimizing muscle hypertrophy, our data are not sufficient enough to conclude that ISS is superior to TST for inducing muscle hypertrophic adaptations. More studies are warranted to elucidate the effects of ISS compared with TST protocols on skeletal muscle. However, our findings support that adding ISS to regular TST regimens does not compromise muscular adaptations during the early phase of training (<8 weeks) in untrained individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Arm
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Organ Size
  • Quadriceps Muscle / anatomy & histology
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiology
  • Random Allocation
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Rest / physiology
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult