The splits, both middle and front, are considered the “holy grail” of displays of hip flexibility and they’re positions I haven’t personally achieved since I was 7 years old.
I remember watching kickboxer at a friend’s house and when JCVD was hanging out on a couple of chairs in the middle splits and another kid that was there dropped into them, I gave it a try and found that I could drop right down without an issue.
But after decades of sports, training and neglecting my flexibility, I haven’t since been able to achieve them.
However, I’m getting closer and closer and I’m doing it in a different way than you’d initially think, in that I’m not doing any long hold static stretching at all.
The reason why I avoid it is because I attempted a few months of daily static stretches in the front split and middle split positions, only to be left with sore hips and knees and a negligible increase in my flexibility.
So I gave that up because I didn’t want to sprain a ligament or tear a muscle and instead devoted time to figuring out what I needed to do to improve my flexibility without hurting myself.
After much research and trial and error I discovered that static stretching only works on one component of flexibility and without working the others, I was beating a dead horse.
Because if you’ve neglected your flexibility while at the same time building strength through traditional weight training exercises for years like I had, you’ve built super strong muscles in limited ranges of motion and now, you need to rebalance the system by building strength in the ranges you want.
That’s why if your goal is to reclaim the flexibility we were all born with, we’ve got to do techniques like the one I’m sharing today, which I call the Controlled Hurdler.
Marvel at the Mobility of Hurdlers
I’ve always marvelled at hurdling in track and field because of the crazy mix of speed, power, timing, coordination and flexibility the event requires.
Watch the way the athletes go over the hurdles, and you’ll see the similarities in today’s drill.
The difference, of course, is that we’re going to do it with control with the goal of improving the way we move, not win an olympic gold medal.
So check out the video then give it a try.
The Controlled Hurdler Technique Video
Programming, Reps and Sets
After that, aim for at least 2 sets of 6 reps per leg, thrown in 2-3 times a week at the end of workouts and once you feel really good with it, you can move it to your warmups.
You can get sore in the hamstrings from this type of drill so I suggest you try it out with the goal of proper technique, not amount of reps for the first few times you do it.
Controlled Hurdler Technique Instructions
- Start in a quadruped stance
- Lift your right hand off the ground
- Thread the needle with your left leg and reach it as far forward as possible
- Plant the left foot and pull yourself forward with the left hamstring (don’t just propel yourself forward with your right leg/left hand)
- Return to the quadruped stance and repeat with the opposite leg
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