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Flexibility Basics

www.Yourstrengthsource.com/blog

Copyright 2012 Strength Productions LLC - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Flexibility Basics

www.Yourstrengthsource.com/blog

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Disclaimer
The author and publisher of this Ebook and the accompanying materials have used their best efforts
in preparing this Ebook. The author and publisher make no representation or warranties with
respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the contents of this Ebook. The
information contained in this Ebook is strictly for educational purposes. Therefore, if you wish to
apply ideas contained in this Ebook, you are taking full responsibility for your actions. Always
consult your physician before physical exercise.

Copyright 2012 Strength Productions LLC - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Flexibility Basics

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Flexibility and Mobility: Prerequisite to Strength

When I was younger I saw no point in flexibility training. Since I didnt understand the value of it, it was
not worth the discomfort or time. But tight muscles compound as we age and lift and sit.

After spending time at numerous strength workshops over the years with Pavel and Andrea and finally
learning the biggest bang for you buck stretches and experiencing it the context of lifting and
bodyweight strength training applications, I now understand it as an indispensable practice for strength,
speed, power, and more graceful and easier movement. Im not talking becoming a human pretzel, just
a baseline of hip flexibility that will make leg raises and deadlifts and squatting easier and more
mechanically sound.

It is worth a little time and initial discomfort.

If youve read the main program, you see that I advise a simple deadlift set up that requires the hip
mobility to bend down and grab the bar with no or little knee bend (from coach Mark Rippetoe). This
flexibility acts as a bow which loads your posterior chain (your butt being the most important part) in
a very powerful way that also steers the force away from your spine. You need to have slightly more
mobility and flexibility than this, you should be able to bend down and touch your toes without bending
your knees.

The later ab flexion progressions (and any leg raise dynamic or static) require flexible hamstrings.
Tight hamstrings effectively pull your legs down, so that you are fighting against the pull of your tight
muscles combined with the weight of your heavy legs. The only strategy is loosen up your hamstrings
and get stronger.

For sprinting, there is no question suburb hip mobility (no tight hamstrings or hip flexors) is a
prerequisite to powerful running mechanics. If these muscles are tight, you end up fighting against your
own body. You won't be able to left your legs high enough to step over your knee (Thank you to Primal

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Flexibility Basics

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Speed Inventor and Sprinting Coach Franz Snideman for pointing this out to me) and your torso will
bend forward instead of upright.

And dont forget the kettlebell ballistics: swings, cleans and snatches. Hip mobility from flexibility
practice will make your hip snap deeper and more powerful. The feeling of doing swings before and
after curing tight hamstrings is night and day. Some with any kind of squat.

You can see from this brief overview that flexibility is absolutely essential for strength, whether
bodyweight or lifting and also for common athletic activities like running.

Leg Raise Screen

This is a good "screen" for you to use to access your flexibility and ab strength prior to starting the
Simple Strength Program:

This screen is used to access ab strength and hip mobility simultaneously - prerequisites for deadlfting
and the ab flexion progressions in Simple Strength. In fact, this basically is one of the progressions (the

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Flexibility Basics

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straight leg L-Sit) except it uses only one leg and the arms/lats arent loaded. It requires some strength
and flexibility (active stretching, some call it).
The two important things here are:
Are your abs strong enough to keep your torso upright?
Are your hamstrings and hip flexors sufficiently stretched?

Actually, there is a third. Strong lats and upper back muscles and good neck posture keep the neck from
protruding forward.
If you lack ab strength and/or your hamstrings and/or hip flexors are tight, your screen will look more
like this:

This is a body that doesnt want to extend the hips. It has been trained into flexion. The core is weak, it
can't hold itself up.
We need to strengthen your abs and stretch out your hamstrings and hip flexors.

To strength your abs, just do the beginning Simple Strength progressions.

Copyright 2012 Strength Productions LLC - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Flexibility Basics

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To make your hammies and hip flexors more flexible, do these:

Hip Flexor Stretch

This is the classic hip flexor stretch. You've likely seen it before. It is important. Pavel talks about tight
hip flexors being the "parking brakes" that come on when you try to load up your glutes for lifting.
Unlocking the hip flexors "turns off" the parking breaks.
The important point is that your hips are fully extended. If your torso is bending forward, then you
aren't doing the stretch correctly no matter how deep you go down to the floor. This stretch will train
your body OUT of flexion, the opposite of what your hips do when you sit and do your ab flexion
exercise progressions from Simple Strength.
So start by putting your knee, hip, and head in a straight line.
Then start to tilt your pelvis forward. You should already feel a stretch. I'm getting a nice stretch in this
picture even though it doesn't look like much (I have a desk job).

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Flexibility Basics

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Then slowly start to move forward into the stretch. Check your neck posture to make sure your neck
isn't jutting forward (ie "chicken neck").

This is a more advanced position, just grab the back leg or prop it against a wall. Brace yourself for some
serious action down there.

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Flexibility Basics

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Kick Backs: The Glute Cramper and Hip Flexor Opener

Im a big fan of active flexibility. This is a great way to open up the hip flexors by firing the gluteus
maximus. This will really help your leg drive with pulls:

Drive your leg backward, trying to keep the leg straight and being attentive to increase the distance
between your heel and glute.

If you have uber tight hip flexors from sitting, this will be very difficult at first. Just keep hitting it
consistently and you will be amazed how your hips will open up after a few days of practice.

To increase opening the psoas and hip flexors, raise your arms overhead and breathe slowly.

Once that becomes comfortable, start walking kicking left leg back then right. This disassociates the
hips, the right hip from the left hip. There should be space between the hips but this can disappear over
time and sitting. Walking kick backs or whatever they are called separates the hips.

Copyright 2012 Strength Productions LLC - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Flexibility Basics

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Hamstring

Here is one of, if not the most effective hamstring stretch:

This is the passive straight leg raise. Notice that it is basically the same position as the screen at the top,
except that you are laying down on a rug. If your active leg raise screen isn't happening, get there
passively.
Take a belt or a band and flex your hip as far as it will go. Flex your muscles in your leg as hard as you
can, push down on your belt like you want to force your leg back down but can't because of the restraint
of the belt.
Take a deep breathe through your nose and release as you pull your leg further back into the stretch.
Make sure your abs are engaged somewhat so your back stays plastered onto the ground.

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Flexibility Basics

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Your goal is to get your legs beyond perpendicular easily (no serious grimacing or discomfort):

Program
If you're tight in your hips from sitting and not enough attention to your hammies, just do this:
Hip Flexor Stretch:
10 slow breathes Left
10 slow breathes Right
Glute Cramper
10 slow breathes left (raise arms once ROM increases)
10 slow breathes right (raise arms once ROM increases)
Passive Straight Leg Raise:
10 slow breathes Left
10 slow breathes Right
For two sets. Rest as needed between each side.

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Flexibility Basics

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Finish with 30 prone rockers to mobilize everything in unison.

This is from Tim Andersons excellent Becoming Bulletproof program. I love this exercise
because it feels like pure unloaded hip movement, i.e. squatting underwater. It greases up your
hips.

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Flexibility Basics

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Just get one all fours like a baby and keep your torso upright (by that I mean parallel to the
ground) while you bring your hips to your calves as if pulling your hips down into a squat. Get
all the mobility benefits of squatting without the loadfeels great and you get a little core firing
action.
Do this every day after your simple strength workout if you feel tight and/or cant pass the leg
raise screen.
Test the screen every few days or so. Once you can hold the standing active straight leg screen
position on both sides for 10 seconds each, then just do this flexibility routine once every two
days for one set, i.e. one minute hip flexor stretch right, one minute left, one minute passive
straight leg raise right, one minute left, one minute rocking.
Enjoy your fresh hips, posture, and strength and I'll see you over in the Simple Strength Book
where we will take your bodyweight and lifting strength to another level.

Copyright 2012 Strength Productions LLC - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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