- The primary goal of this module is active flexibility.
- The secondary goals of this module are static and dynamic flexibility.
- While you can stretch as much as you please, to ensure compliance this routine should be short enough to finish in under 15 minutes.
- Individual stretches should be held for a minimum of 10 seconds. Relaxing, then repeating is an option.
- PNF stretching is effective but should not be overdone.
- Stretching can be done multiple times a day. Whenever possible, it should be done after a workout, or some type of warmup to loosen the tissues; but some work can be done cold if you are using multiple sessions for faster progress.
- While total-body flexibility is desired, the most important points of emphasis are: the hip girdle (including the posterior chain, adductors, and flexors); the shoulder girdle (particularly in the posterior range of motion); and any points of weaknesss.
- Stretching is not optional.
- Soft-tissue work (such as foam rolling or ART) can improve flexibility along with stretching.
- Performing your lifts and other exercises with good technique will improve flexibility within a certain range. Including more gymnastics in your skill work can help as well.
- Note this subtlety of the side splits, from Kurz; lumbar must be arched and pelvis tilted to achieve any success.
- Remember that the primary goal is active flexibility; this is the ability to reach a position without any assistance from other limbs, gravity, or another surface. Active flexibility is a function of both passive flexibility and strength in the opposing muscles.
- Yoga or similar routines done outside of your workouts can be valuable supplementary training when used properly.
- A large compilation of stretches, with illustrations, is here.
- Another compilation, with primarily gymnastic stretches, is here.
- A fairly comprehensive stretching guide, including theory and other details, is here.
- Some optional but useful tools for your stretching are a band, or failing that, a towel or rope; a stick; a bench, block, chair, or step; and a wall.
- An easy way to handle timing is to set your watch to beep every 30 seconds. If your stretch is longer, just wait for more than one beep.
» Source: Based on material from Blair Lowe
This routine consists of four elements: splits training (front and side); hip extensor work; shoulder flexibility; and weaknesses. The splits develop flexibility in most of the muscles around the hips, but some additional hamstring flexibility is helpful for better spinal position in hip-flexed movements (like squats). Shoulder flexibility is valuable for many maneuvers, particularly in gymnastics. Finally, if you are deficient in flexibility of the ankles, wrists, or other minor joints (i.e. it hinders your ability to perform ordinary movements), this needs to be added; if you are not, then it can be skipped.
Active flexibility work can be added to this, but for the sake of simplicity, the basic routine does not include it; it aims to achieve active flexibility via improvements in static flexibility.
While you’re busy with stretches like splits, you can use the time to stretch wrists, ankles, neck, etc.
This sequence will run you through everything, then return to the basics for some longer holds, and finally wrap up with some miscellanea. The full routine should take about 13 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, the holds can be shortened; and if you are extremely rushed, you can be out in half the time (about 6 minutes) by only doing Part 1.
The routine is not set in stone. If you’re getting bored with it, similar stretches can be subbed in as long as they perform the same basic functions.
- Cat stretch on a box, 30 seconds. Start with some dislocates beforehand if you have particular shoulder tightness.
- Arms back on floor, 30 seconds. Can be done with bent arms if you have hyperflexible elbows.
- Seated pike with back relatively straight (don’t round forward), 30 seconds.
- Seated straddle, 30 seconds.
- Frog straddle, 30 seconds. (Image source)
- Side splits, 30 seconds. (Image source)
- Knee lunge, 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
- Front splits, rear knee down (torso either upright or piked forward as in the photo), 30 seconds. Then with rear knee straight, 30 seconds. Repeat them both once. Then switch legs and do it all again.
- Cat stretch for 60 seconds.
- Arms-back shoulder stretch for 60 seconds.
- Seated straddle for 60 seconds, with or without pancake.
- Side splits for 90 seconds.
- Front splits for 90 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
- Stretch any weaknesses missed.
- Cobra if desired.
Lower body band sequence
This is a fairly straightforward lower-body routine using dynamic unilateral stretches. It emphasizes the ankles more than most and so is a good choice for anyone needing to focus on them.
- Run through the routine given here.
- Cat stretch on a box, 30 seconds; relax; 30 more seconds. Start with some dislocates beforehand if you have particular shoulder tightness.
- Arms back on floor, 30 seconds; relax; 30 more seconds. Can be done with bent arms if you have hyperflexible elbows.
- Stretch any weaknesses missed.