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Bodyweight Upper body version of front and side splits


Level 6 Valued Member
Inspired by the new stretching program by StrongFirst (and not wanting to fill that thread with a derailed conversation):

Q: Is there an upper body equivalent for mobility to achieving the front/side splits?

I often see upper body stretching as just something to do as often as possible (do this stretch every day/every training day often quoted) but I do think it would be cool to have some measurable goal to try and achieve there too. And the programming in QuickSilver has opened my eyes to focusing on one main mobility goal each cycle, like you would strength lifts, rather than just “doing every stretch, every day”.

Also if anyone has examples of how they’d program these that would be cool too. I don’t feel I have the expertise, or experience, in stretching to just do my own thing without worrying about being inefficient or injuring myself.
Bridging, IMO.

When people bridge, they usually do this:


But if you can get your arms straight with your head over your (or past) your hands, you're pretty damn flexible.


I would think something like the windmill would round out the upper body. Something that involves a twist and bending forward.
So far I think the Apley stretch test matches what I was envisaging the most.

Something with a definite goal, e.g. clasping hands in the Apley test. How far of a bridge is success? How narrow of a dislocate is success? How far of a bend/twist in a windmill is success?
The bridge, or wheel pose in Yoga, is one I am working towards for upper body mobility as above it requires mobility in shoulders and spine. I've found a standing back bend as per the "Bow" in bioenergetics or like Pavel advocated in earlier books a good regression to work on the initial spine mobility required to even get into a bridge at all.
Looking at the benefits on there it mainly mentions low back/hips. But isn’t this more of a thoracic rotation test similar to the run grab/Brettzel?
Trunk rotation is primarily from the thoracic region; the lumbar region rotates minimally. Some people (like myself) who have very stiff thoracic trunks will do most of their rotation at the Thoracolumbar junction, in which case it will still be hard to get both shoulders flat on the ground. Low back will feel better from this because of the connections between the thoracic trunk -> lumbar trunk <- hips.
Is there an upper body equivalent for mobility to achieving the front/side splits?
Full shoulder flexion:

arms straight overhead with elbows straight, hands directly over shoulders, no scapular compensation via retraction


Somewhere close to 90° Active shoulder extension with arms close to shoulder width (holding a dowel pvc pipe to do this would be acceptable imo).
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