The Side Stretch

This stretch from gymnastics hits your obliques and lats hard, at the same time.

Keep your legs straight. Push your hips away from the support

This stretch from gymnastics hits your obliques and lats hard, at the same time.

Hold on to something stationary, a training partner, a power rack, or a doorway with your hands wide apart and your body strictly sideways . Do not twist at any point!

Keep your legs straight. Push your hips away from the support

Do not twist at any point—and keep your elbows in the same plane as your body.

Inhale, contract your glutes, and pull with your top arm The elbow stays above your head!

Release and fall further away while staying in one plane.

26. The Cossack

This cool stretch will loosen up your hips and improve your squatting ability. It is not nearly as tough as splits; I have placed it in the advanced section because beginners have a hard time tracking their knees properly. The knees should always be in line with the toes and never buckled in!

Squat down on one leg while keeping the other leg straight and relatively unloaded. You may hold on to something for balance. Squat down as deep as you can and squeeze your butt.

Release and sink deeper.

The knees should always be in line with the toes and never buckled in!

Do the drill in both directions. Change sides whenever you feel like it by pivoting near the ground.

Switch your position after each contraction to work every conceivable angle of your hip joint range of motion. Break up the distribution of weight between your feet; vary the direction where your unloaded foot is pointing; shift the weight on your support foot from your heel to your toes and back. Get a distinct feeling of 'rolling' in your hip joint when you switch positions. 'Elongating' your straight leg, as you have done during splits, will help.

Make sure to keep one leg totally straight except when you are switching sides! Understand that the Cossack stretch is not for everyone's knees.

You may combine the Cossack stretch with the Cossack mobility drill from Super Joints.

27. The Reverse Cossack

The so-called IT band on the outside of your knee tends to tighten up big time in runners. My buddy John Faas reports from the U.S. Navy SEAL training base in San Diego that even elite frogmen are not immune against this problem and stretch their ITs religiously. Here is the best way.

Assume the illustrated position. Keep your right leg straight and your left knee tracking your left foot for the duration.

Keep one leg straight and the knee of the other leg tracking its foot.

With most of your weight on the outside of your straight right leg pivot and

'screw yourself into the ground'.

Note how your body leans away from the chair in the bottom position, to amplify the stretching effect.

Push with the outside of your right foot into the ground, then release and sink. Note how your body leans away from the chair in the bottom position to amplify the stretching effect.

Push with the outside of your right foot into the ground, then release and sink. Note how your body leans away from the chair in the bottom position to amplify the stretching effect.

Repeat the drill with your left paw.

28. The Hip and Side Stretch

This stretch—popular in former East Germany—hits your hips in a slightly different fashion and stretches your side muscles as well. It works best if you hold a light weight; a can of mushroom soup will do for starters.

Step with one foot on a stool or another elevated surface. Do not bend your knee beyond ninety degrees throughout the stretch.

Make sure to position your floor-based leg in a manner that does not bother your knee during the stretch; the rule of thumb is to align the knee and the foot in the same direction.

Do not bend your elevated knee beyond ninety degrees throughout the stretch.

Make sure to position your floor-based leg in a manner that does not bother your knee during the stretch; the rule of thumb is to align the knee and the foot in the same direction.

Shift your weight to the heel of the elevated foot and tighten your glute. Your body will slip down inside your knee when you release the tension. The weight in your hand will help to track your body in the right groove.

If you find that you cannot keep the knee of the elevated leg out of your body's way, you need to improve your groin flexibility before having another pass at the evil GDR stretch.

29. The Crawling Lizard

'The Crawling Lizard' is a Russian folk name for this intense butt stretch. Assume the position illustrated. If you cannot, you probably need to work on your hip flexors awhile longer before giving it another tackle.

Reach out with the arm opposite of the stretched leg to balance your body; press your palm into the floor.

The front shin must be vertical and most of your weight should be on the heel of the front leg. Tighten your glutes and push your front heel through the floor.

Your body will sag as you release the tension. Reach out with the arm opposite of the stretched leg to balance your body; press your palm into the floor. Eventually your soft underbelly should rest on the floor.

Tighten your glutes and push your front heel through the floor.

30. Hamstring Stretches

Once, thanks to good mornings, the difference has sunk in—between folding at the hip and bending from your back—you may choose from a variety of the following hamstring stretches. They all obey the same rules as the good morning: chin and chest up, back straight, dig with your heels, fold at the hip, etc. Keep your knees slightly bent or locked depending on your preference and health history. As an option, you may keep your hands behind your back to ensure a straighter spine.

When you stretch one leg at a time, keep your hips facing squarely forward or even slightly toward the stretched leg—and never away from it!

When stretching two legs at a time, do not spread your legs; keep your feet almost together.

The most basic ham stretch is the two-legged floor version.

For the one-legged version, fold one of your legs toward the opposite knee—not the other way, as in the hurtful hurdler stretch! Make sure to keep your weight over the stretched leg and not away from it!

Always point your toes straight up—and never outward—when stretching your hamstrings.

The free standing one-legged ham stretch is a good one for nearly any level. Make a point of keeping your weight over the leg you are stretching. Also, keep the bent knee of the other leg tracking your slightly turned out foot; never let your knees bow in!

The cool knee-on-the-floor chair stretch is very user friendly, because the kneeling leg is pulling the pelvis in the right direction. Make sure to pad your knee with something soft and to watch your balance. You may surround yourself with a couple of chairs for balance if you wish.

If you choose the same stretch with your foot planted on the floor, pay attention not to wrench the knee of your support leg.

The weird stretch that has you hook the other leg underneath some object, say a heavy table or your training partner, takes advantage of an obscure neurological phenomenon related to locomotion. Basically, the contracting right hamstring will help the left one relax. This stretch is not for weak hamstrings because it places a lot of weight— relative to the other stretches—on the stretched muscle. Do not hesitate to surround yourself with chairs for safety.

Conventional hamstring stretches encourage more flexibility in the outer hamstrings (biceps femoris) than the inner hamstrings (semimembranosus and semotendinosus). We are anything but conventional, so we shall not worry about the inner hamstrings; they will be taken care of by your groin stretches; concentrate on the outer ones. To feel more loading on the outside than the inside of the hamstring, do two things.

Second, when you stretch one leg at a time, keep your hips facing squarely forward or even slightly toward the stretched leg—and never away from it!

First, make a point of always pointing your toes straight up—and never outward—when stretching your hams.

31. Hip Flexor/Quad Stretches

When Comrades complain of tight quads, their problem is usually the hip flexors.

One muscle of the quadriceps group, the rectus femoris, also flexes the hip, so it has been stretched with the previous stretch. If, for some strange reason, you need to work on your knee flexion as well, take your pick of the following modified hip flexor stretches. I do not advise that you attempt them until you get proficient with the basic kneeling hip flexor stretch and the karate stance hip flexor stretch.

It is essential, for safety and effectiveness, to keep your hips squared off during hip flexor stretches and front splits. Contracting your glutes hard helps to align your pelvis properly.

Some advanced trainees with a compelling cause may try the kneeling quad stretch. Clear it with your doctor; this stretch is way too rough on most comrades' knees! The stretch is initiated by imitating the leg extension strength exercise or trying to straighten out your legs against the floor. Be certain not to spend much time in a relaxed position when performing this stretch, to minimize the loading of the knee ligaments.

32. The Lower Calf Stretch

This stretch has found its way into the advanced section because it requires strong quads and above average body awareness. The purpose of the drill is to stretch the lower calf, or soleus, for sports and activities that require good ankle flexibility in positions with a bent knee, for example shotokan karate.

Sit back on the rear leg while keeping your body vertical.

Step forward slightly with one foot while keeping the other one flat on the ground. Sit back on the rear leg while keeping your body vertical.

Sit back on the rear leg while keeping your body vertical.

Contract your rear calf by pushing with the ball of your foot into the ground. Hold the tension—it may take a long time to tire out your calf— then release and sink straight down. Your rear knee will drop down while your heel stays on the ground.

33. The Front Split

Keep your hips squared off and your rear knee facing the floor.

As you are working on your hip flexor and hamstring stretches, periodically test yourself on the front split. Assume the kneeling hip flexor stretch position between chairs. With all of your weight on your arms inhale and push the walls apart—the walls in front and behind you, that is. As with the hip flexor stretches, make a point of keeping your hips squared off and your rear knee facing the floor. It is a good idea to pad that knee—slip sliding magazine covers under both the knee and the feet.

Keep your hips squared off and your rear knee facing the floor.

Do not force yourself down; think of making yourself longer, 'pulling your hips out of their sockets'. Once you can get within a foot of the floor, you may start practicing the front split. If you cannot, it is better to stick to your hamstring and hip flexor stretches for a while.

Carefully shift your weight away from your arms; now your hands are barely touching the chairs. Your arms are ready to catch you if you goof up somehow, but they are not carrying any weight unless your leg muscles are very weak.

Once you are very close to the floor—and you are able to rest your fists there without bending over—you may part with the chairs.

Tighten up the stretched muscles and pinch the floor. If you have a hard time doing it, just squeeze your butt and abs and everything else will follow. Do not twist your back knee! If the pressure from the floor bothers the knee—and it will, until you can get your thigh flat on the ground—pad it better. Even wear roller skating pads if you have them. This trick will help you avoid the grave mistake most splitters make—twisting your knee sideways to relieve the pressure.

Maintain steady tension in your legs, glutes, and abs. It is crucial. If you cannot put up with the progressive fatigue and pain of an extended isometric contraction, if you semi-relax your leg muscles now and then, you are wasting your time!

Hold the tension until your hamstrings and hip flexors literally collapse from exhaustion. It may take any time between a few seconds to a few minutes. It will not be enjoyable, which is irrelevant.

When you feel your tired and, perhaps, quivering, muscles involuntarily relaxing, remember the lesson of contrast breathing and let out a sigh of relief. It will help your beat-up hams and thighs go limp.

Once you have released the tension and dropped a little—just a little, to maximize safety! —catch yourself on your arms, then, with the weight on your arms, push the walls apart as you did in the beginning of the stretch. Make sure to stay upright and squared off!

Never force yourself towards the floor! 'Pull your hips out of your sockets'. 'Elongate your spine' and open your chest. 'Push apart the walls ahead and behind of you.'

Never force yourself towards the floor! 'Pull your hips out of your sockets'. 'Elongate your spine' and open your chest. 'Push apart the walls ahead and behind of you.'

Shift your weight back to your front heel and rear knee, flex your stretched muscles, and exhaust them into submission again. Keep plugging away until you get tired, or your range of motion stops improving, whichever comes first.

Alternate the tension with the release and elongation. Eventually you will find yourself in a full split. If you do not look like the photo, if your trunk or knee is twisted and your body is leaning, you cannot claim that you can do a split!

Russian specialist Fillipovich advises holding your lowest position in the splits for 10-20 sec. If you are tough, you can bump up this time to a couple of minutes and even hold the muscles under tension. Scream your heart out!

Once you are down all the way, you may increase the difficulty of the stretch by rotating your torso away from the rear leg. You could also stick some phone book sized object under your front leg.

Maintain steady tension in your legs, glutes, and abs. If you cannot put up with the progressive fatigue and pain of an extended isometric contraction—if you semi-relax your leg muscles now and then—you are wasting your time!

Switching from one type of split to another is a different advanced strategy. Be certain to keep your knees locked to avoid wrenching them.

You may have noticed that when you make the transition from a side split to the front split or vice versa you end up in a 'martial arts split'. Less challenging than either the side or the front split, the martial arts split is nevertheless a good stretch. It is highly specific to karate and other kicks and may be practiced by itself, even before you are ready for the classic splits.

Starting your split workout with non-forceful split switches—they are featured in the Super Joints program as a tool for improving the mobility and health of your hip joints—is guaranteed to advance your splitting cause.

The martial arts split will not tolerate bent knees—and vice versa.

34. The Bent Press Stretch

Keep your chest open and your eyes on your hand or weight for the duration of the stretch.

Although this stretch looks deceptively similar to the triangle asana from yoga it has a radically different history and body mechanics. This drill is derived from the 'bent press' strength feat popularized in the XIX century by legendary Russian strongman, Eugene Sandow. The bent press stretch ranks advanced because it requires precise coordination if it is to be performed safely. Consider owning the companion videotape, to get this one right.

If you do the bent press stretch correctly you will feel it on the outside of your butt. The bent press stretch is great for 'decramping' your outer thighs after side splits and cannot be beat for relieving soreness after heavy deadlifts and squats. If you have sciatica pain from a tight piriformis muscle—not from disk problems! —ask your doctor if this stretch can fix it. This exercise's chest opening effect is nothing to sneeze at either.

Lift your right arm overhead, eventually with a weight, and kick out your right hip to the side. The action is similar to 'crease folding' in the good morning stretch but is done more to the side than to the rear. Note the position of the feet.

Keep your right knee locked and try to keep as much weight as possible on your right leg throughout the stretch. The other knee may be bent; this is not yoga, Comrade!

Keep your chest open and your eyes on your hand or weight. Tighten up your right glutes, hold the tension for a while, then release and fold sideways. Keep your free hand wherever it is comfortable.

Initially you may spot yourself with a chair.

Keep the knee on the side of the elevated arm locked and try to keep as much weight as possible on this leg throughout the stretch.

â

When you have reached the limit of your depth, squeeze your glutes and slowly, without twisting, get up, following the groove you have made on the way down.

When you have reached the limit of your depth, squeeze your glutes and slowly, without twisting, get up, following the groove you have made on the way down. Naturally, work both sides.

If you like the well-rounded combination of strength, flexibility, and balance demanded by this drill, do yourself a favor and check out The Russian Kettlebell Challenge: Xtreme Fitness for Hard Living Comrades.

35. The Modified Reverse Triangle

Lock both knees and keep more weight on your forward foot.

This one is not that different from the reverse triangle pose from yoga. A good advanced stretch for many core muscles. Very rewarding but not totally safe for an ordinary comrade.

Unlike the last stretch, this one demands that you lock both knees and keep more weight on your forward foot. The foot alignment is identical; wider than the shoulders, the rear one is pointing almost straight forward, and the front one almost straight ahead.

If your right foot is forward, inhale, reach up with your left arm, elongate your body, and turn to the right.

Lock both knees and keep more weight on your forward foot.

Now comes the tricky part. Fold sideways while looking up at your right hand as the left one is sliding down the right leg.

Squeeze your butt and press your hand against your leg. Relax and fold.

Carefully get up exactly as you came up. Do not forget to flex your glutes to power up your ascent.

It goes without saying, work both sides. You may use a weight but keep it light.

Carefully get up exactly as you came up. Do not forget to flex your glutes to power up your ascent.

Bending your knees during any type of a side split is an invitation to an injury.

36. The Road Kill Split

The road kill stretch cannot be beat for increasing rock climbers' and dancers' turnout.

When you have achieved some proficiency in the seated groin you may ever so carefully shift all of your weight to your elbows. Your hips will be in the air and your legs will form a straight line, if viewed from above. Slowly transfer your weight to your legs and pinch the floor with your feet.

Once you have released the tension, your feet will slide apart a little. Shift your weigh to your elbows and push the walls apart even further.

Repeat the sequence with the eventual goal of getting flatter than a roadkill!

Flatter than a roadkill!

At this point you may occasionally twist your body to break things up a bit.

At this point you may occasionally twist your body to break things up a bit.

You are also are also ripe to elevate your feet for negative splits.

Although I use phone books on the photographs, I advise that you rig up something that does not have a tendency to split open and move in unpredictable directions under your feet. A plastic box for tools perhaps? Improvise.

Once you have mastered the road kill stretch you may try a side split. If you are tough enough, that is.

0 0

Post a comment