Isometric split progression

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Van Zandt, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. Gunner

    Gunner Valued Member

    I finally broke down and bought one of those mechanical leg split machines. If nothing else, it saves the torque on my knee ligaments.
    Monkey_Magic likes this.
  2. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    For exercises that prepare you for the more intense movements, you can get good results doing several sets of 15-30 repetitions, or single sets of 100-200 repetitions. Such exercises include sit ups for the hip flexors, crunches for the abs, and hyperextensions for the low back. It's important to have good endurance in these body parts first so that premature fatigue does not become an issue in heavier exercises like squats and deadlifts; weak supporting muscles is a significant cause of form breakdown and injury potential in heavy lifts. It is also probably the single biggest barrier to effective isometric stretching.

    For big lifts, sets of 1-3 reps should suffice, although this depends on whether your focus is primarily getting stronger through a full ROM, or building some muscle also. If you want some muscle too, go have a read of Stronglifts 5 x 5.

    A strict horse stance is really just a starting position that helps protect weak knees (but being able do a couple sets of 100 Hindu squats first should resolve most knee problems). If you are finding it difficult to activate the muscles of the inner thighs in a narrow horse stance, try to focus more on squeezing your knees together rather than "pinching the floor." As your stance widens over time, you will naturally progress to pinching the floor.

    Realistivally, the only way you can answer this is to comparethe results of 1x a week against 2x and 3x a week. But in my experience, 2x a week seems to be the minimum for developing strength and flexibility. You can usually maintain your splits with just 1 or 2 workouts a month however.

    The format of these workouts is entirely up to you. I would rather people focus on the principles offered in my original post instead of finer details. Those principles are: tense your muscles when you want to increase range of motion in a stretch. To simultaneously develop strength and flexibility, tense your muscles while they are fully stretched. As your strength in stretched positions increases, so does your range of motion. To keep increasing strength in stretched positions, and therefore keep increasing range of motion, tense harder, or longer, or both. To tense your muscles harder, put more weight on them.

    A rucksack offers the benefit of being able to spot yourself with your hands should you need to suddenly get out of the stretch. However, do whichever format you prefer.

    Good luck.
  3. Nick B

    Nick B New Member

    Many thanks for the detailed reply it's very much appreciated. I've been doing this stuff for a little while now and thought about using your method to try and break a plateau I just can't seem to get past by focusing on increasing strength in the end range of motion - hence some of my questions on strength. I like the way your method provides for a structured route of progression.

    In terms of frequency, I thought at least two times per week would be the answer. I'm hoping that upping the reps and going a little lighter on strength exercises will mean I can up the frequency without fatiguing the legs too much. I need to also fit this round kick boxing training so over training is a potential issue for me and I'm trying not to repeat past mistakes!

    I have not thankfully experienced any knee trouble as yet in extended side splits position as opposed to horse stance and for the sets I have done so far have felt quite solid in the position so I will persevere with this. Having said that I think the Hindu squats are really good so thanks for that recommendation.

    Many thanks again for taking the time to respond.
  4. taffironcobra

    taffironcobra New Member


    how can i purchase your book?
    Monkey_Magic likes this.
  5. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Sadly I don't think Van Zandt ever got around to writing his book.
  6. taffironcobra

    taffironcobra New Member

    Has he passed away then?
  7. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    What makes you ask such a question?

    He's busy, that's all.
  8. taffironcobra

    taffironcobra New Member

    Just way you said unfortunately he didnt have time my bad :(
  9. Monkey_Magic

    Monkey_Magic Well-Known Member

    I hope he gets round to the book!
    axelb likes this.
  10. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    I will post links to the book upon its publication.

    Not yet at least. I do have a manuscript several hundred pages in length but it is still not complete. I was ready to publish some years ago but on reflection I was not happy with the quality of content. I now realise no [aspiring] writer ever is! Writing the book has become a cycle of being faced with new research questions as each previous one is answered; like a hydra almost. I have set myself a deadline of publishing within the next couple of years regardless of where I am up to with my research - that is what later editions are for! :D

    Great scott I hope not!

    Yes. Aside from researching various methods for developing flexibility, I also had some major health issues in recent years. I appear to be (slowly) on the mend now, thankfully.

    No harm no foul amigo. :)

    I will. :)
  11. Feracitus

    Feracitus New Member

    hi, i'm stupid, is there a youtube version of this?
  12. nizze123

    nizze123 New Member

    I realise I’m somewhat late to the party regarding this thread. But would it be possible to implement isometric stretching for the pike as well? Hopefully someone will answer...
  13. DinoF40

    DinoF40 New Member


    I've just started on this stretching programme, and after reading the full thread I'm still a little confused and had a few questions I'm hoping someone can answer.
    1. What is recommended for warming up? Light dynamic stretching? Cossack squats?
    2. In between reps do you stay in the stretch and relax or come completely out of it and then go back down in to the splits for the next rep?
    3. Would passive stretching after with a strap accelerate the results?
    Thanks in advance
  14. DinoF40

    DinoF40 New Member

    I hadn't seen this post but have just come across it which answers most of my questions above: The beginner's guide to flexibility

    1. Dynamic stretching to warm up, leg lifts front, side and rear. 5 sets of 12 reps per exercise
    2. Come out of the stretch completely, relax for a few minutes, then get back down in to the stretch
    3. Dynamic stretches, static-active stretches, isometric stretches and relaxed stretches in that order, strap can help aid relaxed stretches Man vs. Machine
    Van Zandt likes this.
  15. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Those strategies will serve you well. I'm currently writing an update to this article, which I'll be posting in the next couple of weeks.
    DinoF40 likes this.
  16. DinoF40

    DinoF40 New Member

    Hi all, I was hoping for some guidance as I feel like my progression has stopped. I've been doing the plan for just over 4 months and will start level 13 (5 sets x 2:30 (6)) in the next session.

    I'm not overly sore and am doing my sessions 2-3 a week. But I'm dreading the next phase, and feel as if perhaps I haven't increased my strength enough yet which is why I'm plateued.

    Should I start adding in passive or dynamic stretch sessions inbetween the isometric workouts? Should I start doing cossack squats etc or does the plan if I stick it out get me there without anything else?

    @Van Zandt are there any updates on when you think you'll get your PDF out for sale?

  17. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    How often do you experience soreness and to what intensity?

    When was the last time you took a week off?

    Try holding static passive side split stretches for a couple of sets of 1-2 minutes after your isometric workout.

    Most people will make good progress doing the isometric workout alone, but feel free to try adding in other exercises and see how your body responds.

    @Van Zandt are there any updates on when you think you'll get your PDF out for sale?[/QUOTE]

    The draft manuscript came back from proof reading and needs some revisions making, but I'm currently launching my course for coaches so focusing on that for the next few weeks.
    axelb likes this.
  18. DinoF40

    DinoF40 New Member

    Thanks for the quick response, awesome news with your manuscript, looking forward to ordering it.

    I'm often a bit sore the next day, occasionally two days after I'm a little hesitant to do anything more than a low kick until nearer the end of the session when I'm really warm. I don't necessarily think it's the stretching alone, but the Muay Thai on top when sometimes we finish rounds off with lots of kicks.

    From the 23rd April when I started to 23rd July my longest break was 2 days.

    23rd July 6 days off
    10th Aug 7 days off
    1st Sep 4 days off

    The July break was deliberate, the others just circumstantial. I'll start adding in breaks after every phase moving forwards now it's getting much harder.

    Thank you for your advice, I'll start adding static passive side slits after. I do this occasionally with my Si-stretcher strap but it's not regular.

    Thanks again.
  19. cientista

    cientista New Member

    Thanks for this info Van Zandt, I have been trying on and off to get splits for years and I think with your help I might finally crack it.

    I made a simple workout planner based on the information in this thread and your beginners guide to flexibility. If I wanted it all - splits and the ability to hold my leg up at near 180, then if I have understood your instructions correctly a weeks schedule would look like this. Which is 2 sessions every single day to include dynamic and static-passive, but isometric and static-active 3 times a week on the second session with a day off in-between. Visualised like:-


    Once the gym is open again I would do my modified 5x5 on the same days as the isometric, directly after dynamic stretching.
  20. DinoF40

    DinoF40 New Member

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