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JoeSimo

Active Straddle Flexibility

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Here is a question I'v been wondering about for a while now. I have all 3 splits down and locked. With the right and left front splits I have the over split and can touch my head to my toes with the leg straight. My straddle is also flat on the floor. My problem seems to be I can't actively hold the straddle that wide. I can easily pull my legs to 180 with my hands but using leg power alone I cannot. I think this is the single thing holding back my planche progression as I can hold the ATP for a long time and easily do 5-10 pushups in this position.

My question then is how does one increase their active straddle flexibility? I've experimented with a few things like quickly pulling my legs apart or trying to hold the straddle as wide as I can for duration. I just want to know I am going the right direction..

Thanks

Joe

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Hi Joe,

Since there's been no action here, I'll add some ideas and see what comes from it. Please note these are just the product of my thinking about it, and remember (as always) that I am not a gymnast or gymnastic coach... My assumption is that since you mentioned it's holding back your planche (as opposed to straddle-L press handstand), that working a 'flat straddle' position (I made that term up) as opposed to a 'piked straddle' position (and that term, too) would be desirable:

1) Do you think there would be some merit in spending some time in arch hold (since it's mainly for planche) and hollow hold (in case you also need it for front-lever) holding the legs as wide as possible for time? I guess the timings should reflect you are aiming for strength rather than endurance at this stage, so go short/intense, rest between and don't go to failure?

2) You could also get a little gravitational assistance (candlestick/wall handstand) or resistance (hanging from a bar) while holding the legs apart. This might provide a more useful angle of force than a band at those extremes of ROM?

3) You could also do 'side' leg lifts hanging from the bar, as in: hanging straight, then lifting legs to the side as far as you can, maybe 3:1:3 tempo.

Don't know if this helps at all ...but maybe it will spark some thinking?

Cheers,

George.

P.s. If anyone has proper terms for my made-up 'flat straddle' and 'piked straddle' positions ...I'd love to know! :)

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YOu are right. I have the "piked straddle" alot better than the "flat" one. I can easily straddle press handstand. Its just that flatening out of the hips for the planche doesnt seem to work all that well. My legs seem to just snap back together making it difficult to hold the straddle planche. I alreayd have great straddle flexibility. I can easily get in and out of the straddle split on the floor. on a good day I can over split it by a few degrees. But this is always in that "piked position" I'm wondering if there is a stretch to add or an area to strengthen to further develop a good straddle split with the flat back and hips.

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Give the hollow/arch hold 'flat' straddles a go ...I played around with them a while ago, and recall they got really crampy around the gluteus medius/minimus. A little research shows that there are different muscles in play dependant on hip flexion. Therefore it might be reasonable to assume that one should take into consideration the flexibility of different opposing muscles dependant on hip flexion as well!?

Adduction

Medial movement toward the midline of the body; moving the thigh inward with hip straight.

- Adductors

- Pectineus

- Gracilis

- Gluteus maximus, lower fibers

Abduction

Lateral movement away from the midline of the body; moving the thigh outward with hip straight.

- Gluteus medius

- Gluteus minimus

- Tensor fasciae latae

- Sartorius

Transverse Adduction

Medial movement toward the midline of the body in a horizontal plane; moving the thigh inward with hip bent.

- Adductors

- Pectineus

- Gracilis

- Tensor fasciae latae

Transverse Abduction

Lateral movement away from the midline of the body in a horizontal plane; moving the thigh outward with hip bent.

- Gluteus maximus

- Gluteus medius

- Gluteus minimus

- Piriformis

- Obturator externus

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George has given some excellent suggestions. In addition, I recommend the following for improving your dynamic hip strength and the stability of your extended straddle position:

1) Reverse leg lifts in a straddle - For this exercise you will need a pommel horse, box or a bench etc. that is high enough for your to lay prone upon it in a pike without your feet touching the ground. Now, while maintaining a wide straddle, lift your legs until they are horizontal. Pause for several seconds and descend back to the start position. Perform 3-5 reps; adding weight to the ankles as needed.

2) Straddle circles - Sit on the ground in a straddle. Arrange yourself so that the angle of your straddle is 90 to 120 degrees. Place your hands on the ground in front of you. Lift both legs, and WITHOUT removing the hands from the ground, perform outward circles. I prefer to perform these for time rather than reps. To increase intensity, slide your hands further forward and keep them there during the entire set.

3) Leg Kicks - Perform five standing leg kicks sideways. At the top of the fifth rep, attempt to pause the leg at the top of the arc of the kick. Hold the leg as high as you are able for five seconds. Lower the leg and then switch sides. Continue for as many sets as you desire. Note: your passive flexibility (the height of your kick) will usually greatly exceed the height of your dynamic flexibility (height of your static hold). The height of your static hold is the current degree of usable flexibility that you currently possess.

4) Box Lifts - Stand sideways about 2-3' from a box that is approximately hip high, although it may be higher or lower depending your level of dynamic flexibility. Lift your right leg in front of you and then rotate it sideways over the box. From here you may either return the leg back to the front or continue on rearward to a full backward leg lift. These are not swings or kicks, keep the tempo slow, smooth and even. Perform 3-5 reps and then switch sides.

5) Youngs - This excellent exercise is the most specific for directly increasing your ability to open your hips fully while in a straddle planche. It is also however the most challenging and will be quite difficult to perform unless you already have a straddle L. From a straddle L, and without lifting the hips whatsoever, rotate the legs back behind you until they are together and then return back to the straddle L. During the arc of movement, attempt to very lightly brush the toes along the ground at all times. Once the legs come together, do not allow the back to arch and immediately begin reversing the arc of movement. Intense cramps throughout the hips and glutes are quite common when first beginning to train this movement.

If you have the resources to safely elevate the body (boxes, benches, parallets etc) it is possible to perform Youngs prior to possessing the ability to correctly execute a horizontal straddle L on the floor.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Wow awesome stuff. Thanks a bunch coach.

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If at all possible, could you put up a video of exercise number 5? From what I understand it is like going from a straddle L to a planche. Am I correct?

Thank you for your help.

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Does a Young Contain a Planche Press?

No, there is no planche press inherent in performing a Young; although that is a common misinterpretation. Note when discussing the correct method for coming out of the straddle L in the above essay, I specifically mention that there will be no lifting of the hips whatsoever. The angle of the back and height of the hips will remain constant at all times during a Young. This will of course preclude elevating the hips as in a press to planche. All of the focus and effort is directed toward opening and extending the hips.

Later this evening I will see if I can shoot a video demonstration of Youngs for you.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Does a Young Contain a Planche Press?

No, there is no planche press inherent in performing a Young; although that is a common misinterpretation. Note when discussing the correct method for coming out of the straddle L in the above essay, I specifically mention that there will be no lifting of the hips whatsoever. The angle of the back and height of the hips will remain constant at all times during a Young. This will of course preclude elevating the hips as in a press to planche. All of the focus and effort is directed toward opening and extending the hips.

Later this evening I will see if I can shoot a video demonstration of Youngs for you.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

A video would be very helpful because the exercise as I understand it now terminates in a reverse L with the legs behind and at a right angle to the torso. As this is probably impossible I must be misinterpreting.

Thanks again coach for your abundant high quality advice.

Edit: I just tried it on paralellettes and it makes a lot more sense now. Granted I did have to raise my hips and arch my back a little, but my focus was on keeping the legs up with hip power.

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Did a video ever come out on this? Clearly I'm not near to attempting it, but I'm still curious to see how it works.

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No, a video didn't it but I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't in the upcoming dvd series.

My straddle L sucks and has always sucked hard to meager at best so I could not make a video, sorry.

I am glad you bumped this thread, because I never saw it before.

Besides straddle L hip flexor drills I coach straddle L holds and the seated straddle hip flexor lifts and holds for time or reps.

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Hey Coach, will the other exercises you listed, except the youngs, help with the extension in the straddle planche position? I am finding youngs to be very difficult to executed correclty. Thanks

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