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Bodyweight Learning Splits by "Greasing the Groove"?

Minimalist

Level 2 Valued Member
Hello, I'm using isometric stretching three times a week from several months. From Pavel's books I learned that to achieve splits you should build strength. Unfortunately I have problems with relaxing my groins, so maybe I should applicate GTG for building strength in my groins?
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Please read (or reread) Pavel’s “Relax Into Stretch.” The split benefits from what might rightly be called the opposite of GTG, which is “wait out the tension.”

-S-
 

Minimalist

Level 2 Valued Member
I have read "Relax into Stretch" several times, but I still do not understand one thing. In my case, I want improve only one exercise - "The Seated Groin Stretch" and I see that my groins has been relaxed after 2 minutes under tension. After this tension I'm increasing the range of stretch and what should I do next? Start from the beginning tight my muscles or wait couple of minutes for get some rest?

So far after 2 minutes of tension I increased range of stretch, and get up for 3-5 minutes of rest and do some "fast and loose" exercise.
I think 2 minutes isometric stretching is very hard for me to do it without rest.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
My approach, which worked well for me, was to work several "split switches" first, which are the Martial Arts split. Do it to one side, with a bit of tension then relaxation, lift up to switch side and work the other side the same way, and do 2-3 cycles this way, then sit down into your seated groin stretch, which is your side split. Same thing: tension, relaxation. You don't have to hold tension for 2 minutes, just do this: drive your heels out, trying to pull your thigh bones out of the sockets. Wiggle your feet as you do this. Only tense for as long as you're making some progress at getting further, then relax. 2-3 cycles of this, then wait out the tension in a relaxed state. Spend time relaxed as opposed to trying to spend a long time under tension.

The psychological element of this is important - it's all to easy to develop an aversion to stretching practice. Let it feel like work that you can do, along the lines of strength training you know you can do. Work, but don't do a 100% effort every day. While it's true that the 100% effort can get you to a split faster, getting there more slowly may yield a more lasting result.

-S-
 

Minimalist

Level 2 Valued Member
Thank you for help.
Today I tried "split switches" before "the seated groin stretch" After that I waited out the tension, "pushed walls apart" and increased stretch position. At this moment I used "forced relaxation" - it means i keept tension about 2 minutes, and then my muscles started trembling - so what should I do next? wait out the tension and do next "forcet relaxation" or stop training?
Until to achieve maximal stretch I was using only convencional stretching, without cramping muscles.

My mistake was that I kept tension about 2 minutes from the beginning. In Pavel's book he recommends 20 seconds of forced relaxation in this exercise. If I understood well, I have to hold the tension about 10-20 seconds from the beginning and when I increase my stretch to maximal - then I should keep tension as long as I can? I'm learning splits from 4 months and I do not see results

Can I train "split switches" everyday?
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Minimalist, which book are you looking at? The Forced Relaxation technique does work but it's unpleasant. This is what I was trying to tell you in my previous post, that you don't need 2 minutes of tension. Unless you're in a particular hurry, I wouldn't do Forced Relaxation - I've never done it and it's not necessary, it's just that other techniques take longer to achieve the same result.

-S-
 

Xene

Level 5 Valued Member
Hello, I'm using isometric stretching three times a week from several months. From Pavel's books I learned that to achieve splits you should build strength. Unfortunately I have problems with relaxing my groins, so maybe I should applicate GTG for building strength in my groins?
There are many tipps in the book Flexible Steel by Jon Engum.
 

rwleonard

Level 6 Valued Member
Given that GTG is "neurological" strength training and flexibility is largely neurological, I would guess it would work. Try it and let us know!
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Given that GTG is "neurological" strength training and flexibility is largely neurological, I would guess it would work. Try it and let us know!
Respectfully disagree. It's all about how hard you push yourself, and to make progress in splits, you need to push hard, so frequent training isn't what I recommend.

At the first Flexible Steel workshop I attended, I recall Master Instructor Jon Engum and I talking about how often one should practice the techniques that he and I had both used with success to achieve our splits, and had just demonstrated in the workshop. My recommendation was twice a week, and Jon's was 3 times in 2 weeks. This kind of training is best thought of as being similar to what you'd do if your lifting program called for one heavy session per week on a lift, or even like the Heavy Day in the ROP - you will need to recover from it. And while the medium and light days on the ROP will help you, that hasn't been my experience in working on splits.

-S-
 

rwleonard

Level 6 Valued Member
"This kind of training is best thought of as being similar to what you'd do if your lifting program called for one heavy session per week on a lift"

People have gotten pretty strong on Justa Singles, seven days per week, every week. Just sayin. One would certainly want to reduce session volume and intensity to GTG it. Nudge up the 50-80% and all that.

My experience with splits was, one, a long time ago, two, I stretched a little here and there throughout the day, as much to be "always ready" (for what I don't know) as anything, but splits came pretty easily. That may have been youth as much as anything and might not work as well at 59 as 19.

I have had the more recent experience of sometimes doing Jon's Tactical Frog series, gently, once through, 3-4 times per day for a week at a time. I gained significant flexibility over the week each time, without any pain or the feelings of weakness and mild nausea that a more intense approach can produce. I think that would be a better GTG approach than any of the more intense methods.

Darn it! I am not very interested in splits these days, but if the OP won't try it, I might have to...I just gotta know!
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@rwleonard, mobility and gentle stretching work well when done with high frequency. Just as in strength training, though, the harder you push, the more you need to recover, but splits and strength training are only similar in some ways.

There's a place for different kinds of strength training, everywhere between GTG and a hard, weekly session, and so there's a place for different approaches to stretching. If what you did worked for you, that's great. The approach I described didn't create weakness or nausea, although a Forced Relaxation approach might - never having tried that approach, I can't say.

-S-
 

rwleonard

Level 6 Valued Member
I never did the "inadvertent GTG" with the Tactical Frog thing for a sustained period of time, so I don't know how far that would take one. Just might have to try it. What could it hurt? If I do, I will report back with results, or lack thereof.
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
You can make fairly good progress by working a stretch only 1-2 times a week. I have not read Pavel's works on flexibility yet, but I come from a calisthenics/handbalancing world so we need a lot of active split flexibility.

The basic rules of flexibility are :
-stretch one side of the joint (e.g. agnoists)
-strengthen the other side of the joint (e.g. antagonists)

This is because once you strecth into a new ROM, no matter how small an increase, you need to teach your body that it can safely enter that end range. It won't do it unless you have the strength to do so.

So for a side split, you would stretch your adductors and then strengthen your medial glutes in their end range. Back when I was in my teens and practiced kung fu, the combination of stretching splits and then doing "kick-and-holds" (holding a kick as high asyou can with good from) served this function.

Same for say, shoulder flexion: you need to stretch the pecs, lats, teres major, etc, and strengthen the shoulder flexors and upward/external rotators, such as the upper/lower traps, external rotator cuff muscles, and so on.

In any mobility training, it is of utmost importance that you do it with correct form. Never force ROM by compensating. You will only stagnate your progress, or worse, injure yourself.

As to a GTG approach, you can likely make good flexibility gains by doing moderate stretching most every day, as @Steve Freides suggested. I would add to the routine by doing something to strengthen your ROM in the direction you are trying to go, if that makes sense.

Some people (myself included) prefer to do longer, focused stretching sessions a few times a week as opposed to every day.*
If you are doing deep stretches and strengthening your end range, you should see gains.

*I do light stretching almost every day, but do focused flexibility training 2-3 days/week.

Hope some of that is helpful.
 

Minimalist

Level 2 Valued Member
Thank you very much for help.
When I'm starting "the seat groin stretch" my legs are maximum 90 angle of degrees and I have to "wait under tension" or use "isometric stretching" and then increase range of stretch. My maximum range of stretch in this exercise is about 130 angle of degrees. And now I have a question - if I build enough strength in my maximal end range (130) my strength will rise from other angles?
Last time, in my maximal end range I was holding kettlebell (16kg) and i think tension significantly increased - is it good idea to build strength faster?
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
Once again, I am not familiar with Pavel's labels for stretches, so my answer will be my best guess.

if I build enough strength in my maximal end range (130) my strength will rise from other angles?
Last time, in my maximal end range I was holding kettlebell (16kg) and i think tension significantly increased - is it good idea to build strength faster?

For clarification: Are you holding weight while attempting to do side splits?

By "building strength in the end range" I mean that you need to strengthen the muscles opposite of the muscles you are stretching. So you would do your split stretches, and then afterwards do something in which you pull your legs apart as wide as you can using your own muscles. Does that make sense?
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

I think everyone is different. Therefore, one may have to try different options and then see what works best.

As far as splits goes, I tend to agree with @Steve Freides ' #4 post. I used roughly the same strategy. At the end of each sessions (some say this is not ideal, but again, it works for me), I did 3 to 5 deep stretches, for each splits (or joint) I wanted to train. Each stretch lasts about 5s. Then, I change the position, meaning, relax, and do it again.

My maximum range of stretch in this exercise is about 130 angle of degrees. And now I have a question - if I build enough strength in my maximal end range (130) my strength will rise from other angles?
I do not think the transfer is on the entire ROM. There will be a transfer of +/- 15°. This is at least what happens with isometric training.

@bluejeff 's question is important. Indeed, the answer may be different if there is a load or not, and if so, what type of load (a regular weight or a variable resistance (band)). Indeed, for example, when we perform a deadlift, we have more resistance at the beginning of the ROM (when we start the lift). At some point, no matter the weight, it gets easier due to the leverage. So if you would only train the "weak portion", it would be the upper part of the lift, which would not transfer to the lower part.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Machete

Halfling Monk, Chaotic Neutral
Elite Certified Instructor
Respectfully disagree. It's all about how hard you push yourself, and to make progress in splits, you need to push hard, so frequent training isn't what I recommend.

At the first Flexible Steel workshop I attended, I recall Master Instructor Jon Engum and I talking about how often one should practice the techniques that he and I had both used with success to achieve our splits, and had just demonstrated in the workshop. My recommendation was twice a week, and Jon's was 3 times in 2 weeks. This kind of training is best thought of as being similar to what you'd do if your lifting program called for one heavy session per week on a lift, or even like the Heavy Day in the ROP - you will need to recover from it. And while the medium and light days on the ROP will help you, that hasn't been my experience in working on splits.

-S-

Fascinating. You recommend twice a week of hard stretching, and no medium or light days?
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
In many things there is a continuum. I found reading "Relax Into Stretch" and "Super Joints" fascinating for many reasons, among them that there are some similar movement patterns that exist in both books, and exactly how Pavel recommends performing them on a daily basis in Super Joints makes for an interesting comparison with what's in Relax Into Stretch.

E.g., split switches and a side split every morning, but basically in sync with a normal breathing pattern, then on a few evenings, really pushing out on the stretches and spending time sitting in a split.

-S-
 

Minimalist

Level 2 Valued Member
Many thanks!
I have feeling that I'm stretching too hard. For example, on Monday I'm stretching and after that I can lift my leg very high (side kick position) but for the next day in the morning when I'm trying to lift leg i feel some pain in groins.
I will try to reduce number of series.
 
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