Isometric split progression

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

  1. lhommedieu

    lhommedieu Valued Member

    Thanks - that's very helpful. If I am reading your posts correctly the advantage of practicing the splits is that you can use your body weight to provide the resistance necessary to create isometric tension. But you can play around with other positions that do the same thing if you want to target other muscle groups.


  2. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Yep, spot on. :)
  3. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle


    Dan, in the front split lunge position above, I have trouble contracting maximally because I raise myself off the floor/out of the lunge. For a while, I have been using a standing position (easier on the knees I think) with my base foot positioned sideways and my front foot elevated on a bookcase top (about chest height, and mostly like this: Image Link). I have been wiggling my back foot back a little to gain ROM (by the way, I am about 6 inches away from front split with back foot turned sideways after isometrics), and it seems to work fine, although my lower back feels a little out of wack when I get out. Maybe it's the odd position, but I can't figure out any other way of doing in a somewhat knee-friendly fashion. :confused:

    Also, isn't three minutes a long time to contract maximally? Seems to me like that would be mostly in the range of endurance.
  4. s-spiff

    s-spiff New Member

    First of all, my condolences on your injuries and best wishes for a full recovery. I'm sure with your focus and determination you'll have no problem coming back.

    Having said that, the fact that you did sustain injuries brings up some questions in my mind regarding the safety of your methods. I may be a heretic on this forum and especially in this thread, but if you have sustained injuries to your hips throughout a longer period of time as opposed to a specific one-time event to the point they need to be replaced, how safe is this?

    I believe I'm in the majority of readers here who appreciate your insights, advice and instruction, but if the author himself doing these types of stretches needs both hips replaced, it brings about some concern.

    I'm not trying to flame or belittle any of the advice, just asking the question.

    Thanks in advance.
  5. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    The damage to my hips was due to an injury I sustained in the army. I dislocated both hips (among other things) which led to the gradual wear and tear of my femur heads and hip sockets which warrants the replacements. The fact is my condition is directly linked to my army injuries, and my methods delayed the need for prosthetic implants (surgeon's words, not mine); likewise these methods have been used by most of my real life clients with great results and no injuries.

    I'll say it again - my hip problems are no way related to the methods I teach.
  6. s-spiff

    s-spiff New Member

    Thanks for the explanation. That definitely helps settle my concerns. I'm pretty excited to try this method. Seems very straightforward and logical.

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience.
  7. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    Well said, s-spiff. It's a perfectly logical and appropriate question to have, but a difficult one to word without insulting Dan (which you did not).

    I'm certain Dan understands the implications of being a coach with unusual flexibility training methods and severe hip injuries at the same time. Respect is due to Dan for not taking offense at a potentially insulting question which he may be being asked a lot.
  8. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Have you tried doing it on the floor in a front split lunge position, but with the rear foot and knee turned sideways (a cushion supporting the knee) and sliding the front foot out instead of the rear one? Good on you for reaching the six-inch mark! Is that on both sides?

    It might seem so if 30 seconds (the standard strength building contraction) is the longest a person has contracted for. Hence the steady progression through the program, increasing at 15 second intervals. Note that three minutes is based on a study I did with students at the University of Manchester for their master's degrees; three minutes was the duration which produced optimal strength gains. (Tensing for longer than three minutes wasn't any more effective than tensing for less than three minutes.) Details of the study will be published in my book.*

    * Eventually. :rolleyes:
  9. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    No probs. Like I always say, the method I offer is just one way of doing things. I encourage everyone to experiment with different methods and discover for themselves which works best for them - or even create their own! (Though I fear if they do I will have some competition!*)

    * Yes, I'm looking at you Patrick Smith :D
  10. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

  11. Dizzyj

    Dizzyj Valued Member

    A follow up question in response to this:

    Surely if you are in full splits then you'll be supported by the ground through your pelvis, and whatever weight you have on your back won't be supported by your legs (meaning that it wouldn't build leg strength)? Or am I imagining this wrong?

    Or should I just shut up and wait until I can actually do them before asking stupid questions? :p
  12. ArthurKing

    ArthurKing Valued Member

    Much respect to you Van Z for another great post, so here's a really dumb question- i'm not sure i know exactly what you mean by set? If i do, as you describe (do 'split', hold, push out hold etc) is that one set? so would i, for example-
    Day 1 one set of front stretch as described for 30 seconds
    Day 2 one set of side stretch as described for 30 seconds
    Day 3 two sets of front ... and so on following your programme.
    Don't know if i'll manage it, but it's still inspiring.
  13. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    No, what you say is true. Patrick Smith made the excellent point of trying to lift yourself off the ground when you're in a full split. I usually teach my clients to do one of two things:

    1) While on the floor in a split, push against the ceiling with a long broom handle and tense your muscles against the opposing resistance. This has the added benefit of allowing you to tense at different angles and focus on particularly tight areas.

    2) Place thick phone books under each foot so your pelvis is off the floor and you're supporting all your weight (and that on your back) using just the strength of your isometric tensions.

    Remember - the only stupid question is the one you don't ask. :)
  14. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    A set is basically one stretch from start to finish. Take the side split for example. You open your legs as far as you can, hold it for 30 seconds when you feel resistance, increase it, hold it, and so on until you can't go any further. You then tense your muscles for 30 seconds to 3 minutes depending on which level you're at. When you open your legs is the start of the set; when you finish tensing your muscles is the end of the set. So if you do five sets you will end up doing five sets total (per exercise). Does this explain it better?
  15. Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith Tustom Cuser Uitle

    ArthurKing, think of a set like a group of reps. For example, if you have 5 sets (groups) of 3 reps, this is what you do (usually with rest between sets):

    Set 1 - 3 reps
    Set 2 - 3 reps
    Set 3 - 3 reps
    Set 4 - 3 reps
    Set 5 - 3 reps

    See? Sets are just groups of reps.

    Hey! Don't look at me... I'm loyal! I am! :vanish:

    (Great Q&A sheet! by the way)

    Yessireebob! I have pretty much the same flexibility on both sides.

    I haven't tried the position you describe, but I will in my workout tomorrow. I have a thick piece of foam that I recently discovered and it should be perfect. Thanks!


    Okay dokey.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  16. JamieW

    JamieW Valued Member

    should i do the side spits with my hands on the floor supporting me, or stay up right as possible???

    and how many reps do i do in each set ??

    sorry if its already been explainedd i cant see it.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  17. takahura19

    takahura19 Valued Member

    Hey guys today I'm lil bit sore as I had intesive workout these days, so shld I do splits today after my taekwondo workout, with like few levels lower intesinty. Now I do 5x 1.15, so today maybe 5x0.45 would be good I did last time on tuesday. Otherwise is it ok just to do side split or shld I also do front one. all the best regards
    P.S I feel lil bit pain in my front muscles above knee and muscles next to my balls, but I feel I can train today, I dont know why :D
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  18. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Ideally you should do them unsupported as this method builds strength and balance faster than placing your hands on the floor. Supporting yourself with your hands on the floor also leads to poor posture. You can place a chair in front of you to spot yourself during side splits as this helps you stay upright (thus directing all your weight down onto the target muscles) and you can hold the chair when necessary to maintain your balance.

    Regarding the number of reps per set, see this post from the second page in this thread for instructions on how I would do them. That number is just a guide; you can do more or less depending on how you feel.
  19. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    You should not do isometrics when you are at all sore, even at a reduced intensity. If your adductors are sore from doing isometric side splits in your previous workout, don't work on your adductors until they are no longer sore. It is however acceptable to work on your front split instead, providing you don't stress the adductors while doing it and the muscles you are working (primarily the hamstrings) are not sore also. Remember - just because you feel like you can train doesn't mean you should.
  20. JamieW

    JamieW Valued Member

    so i when you say du 5 sets you mean do it 5 times or do you mean 3 reps in each set doing a totally of 15 times??

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