It just didn’t really seem that important. Until recently.
Last week after months of attempting full leg raises without success you finally decided to start working on your flexibility.
Red-cheeked, with pure agony on your face you reached for your toes, to realize you couldn’t even pass beyond your knees.
Those 10 muscle ups you recently crossed off your to-do-list didn’t prepare you for a simple exercise that a 2-year old can do without even warming up.
Why haven’t you spent any time on getting more flexible? Why do you always feel so weak when attempting to stretch? Don’t you want to do the most advanced skills?
Surely, there has to be something wrong with your muscles.
When you come out of your stretch, you usually look and feel like a 98-year old who just got hit by a car.
So you tell yourself that your muscles are genetically short.
You aren’t stiff because you haven’t worked on your flexibility, you are stiff because your mom and dad made you that way.
Do you recognise the feeling? The thought?
After all, we never really want to blame ourselves and take responsibility if the answer would be that we were simply: “Too lazy”.
If you were put under anaesthesia you’d be able to do full splits.
Lack of flexibility means that you are weak in that area of your body, that’s why your body blocks you from getting into that position to protect you.
The good thing? You can win your body’s trust back. Thankfully, it’s forgiving.
Even you can get a front split. Yes, you can become flexible.
Shall I show you how?
Pre-Requisites For A Front Split And Leg Raise
Prior to starting your front split training there is 1 range of motion which you need to check off your to-do-list.
It’s the front pike. Click to get the front pike guide.
In other words placing your chest on your knees while keeping your legs straight.
As you try this exercise however, you’ll discover that adding more effort if you are too stiff to reach the bar isn’t a solution to the problem.
That’s because the full leg raise is a front pike more or less, just upside down.
It will most likely be your first demotivating encounter with what a ‘lack of flexibility’ means for your overall progress.
It comes to a halt, unless you start working on it.
Let’s get started with that front split.
2 Drills For The Front Split
These are 2 simple drills for a front split which can be done anywhere.
The first one focuses on opening up the hips actively and the second one focuses on ‘contracting’ the muscles required to relax in the front split.
This will allow you to build strength instead of just relaxation and will give you an even better front pike.
Why the front split?
Because it targets the hamstrings and hip flexors which are generally extremely tight from sitting the entire day.
And because it paves the way for higher flexibility goals without which you will NEVER achieve advanced calisthenics exercises.
Ready to try them?
Main goal: Opening up the hip flexors and hamstrings through a dynamic movement
1) Adopt a forward lunge position with your back leg as straight as possible.
2) Contract your glutes to make sure you aren’t leaning forward, but maintain an upright position with your torso.
3) Slowly lower yourself down until your rear knee touches to ground and return to your starting positing while strongly contracting your glutes and straightening your legs.
4) Repeat for 10 repetitions and hold for 10-30 seconds in the top position after the last repetition.
5) Change legs to make sure both sides develop equal flexibility and repeat for 3 rounds.
Main goal: Developing full front split range and strength in end ranges of your hip joint for higher level skills
1) Adopt a front split position as a depth that feels comfortable.
2) Make sure you keep your glutes contracted and actively hold your position by trying to pull your feet together against the floor.
3) Breathe in deeply and upon releasing your breath adopt a sightly deeper position. Repeat this for 1-2 more times until you reach your deepest position.
4) Hold your deepest position for 30-60 seconds.
5) Switch legs and repeat for 3 rounds.
How You Can Add Flexibility Training To Your Routine
Flexibility is basically strength in new ranges of motion.
It should be ‘trained’ the same way as you would any other muscle group or exercise.
Any specific flexibility goal should be trained at least 2-3 times a week.
Add these exercises before or after your regular routine.
Make sure you have a ‘proper’ warming up and wear warm clothes if possible.
If you feel really stiff, take a few days off.
Actively increasing your flexibility is great, but overdoing it will actually have the opposite effect.
Time is the defying factor.
The Power Of Flexibility
When I started my calisthenics journey I kept running into ‘big roadblocks’ which had nothing to do with doing more repetitions of a certain exercise.
It had everything to do with flexibility, but because I sucked at it I refused to spend more time on improving my flexibility and told myself that I had ‘short muscles’.
I wasted a lot of time on just getting what I thought was ‘stronger’, while in reality I was actually locking myself into a body of protection, instead of body of freedom.
I want you to realise this too, before it’s too late.
Some people will never see the bigger picture and while they will do +20kg muscle ups, they can’t do the most basic things required to be human.
Like touching their toes with straight legs.
Throw the idea that you have short muscles out of the window.
It doesn’t serve you now, nor will it ever.
Keep working on your flexibility. The next time you reach for your toes?
You’ll be as flexible as that 2-year old.
Beast mode ON!
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