please help!!! question about flexibility

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by ZeLuis, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. ZeLuis

    ZeLuis New Member


    I'm 14 and a i just started training in jeet kune do.
    I want to get high kicks and splits so i read the fantastic thread of van zandt
    and my problem is that in the thread is says that i cannot do isometrics because of my age.
    So my question is if i can develop a flexibility to do a split and perform high kicks with my age if so please tell me how. ​

    (please reply i really need to get flexibility)


    (sorry for my english, english is not my native language)
  2. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Zeluis, welcome to MAP.

    My sons train with me (aged 15) and their flexibility is poor.

    I've not given them a specific programme as their flexibility will improve through regular training and as they get stronger.

    Doing the splits is a personal thing, it's not important and I know many people who can kick high without being able to do the splits.

    I was 19 before I could do the splits, so you don't have to worry, just enjoy your training.
  3. ZeLuis

    ZeLuis New Member

    Thanks for the quick reply!
  4. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick


    First point - SLOW DOWN! Don't be in a rush to develop flexibility (or any other fitness attribute) because your body will simply stick up the middle finger and say "it ain't hap'nin." Fitness developed quickly is unstable.

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, when I talked about getting flexible "quick" - I meant in relation to other forms of stretching. You can do splits in months rather than years if you follow a rational training program.

    Second point - to get flexible, do what flexible people do. Gymnasts are (probably) the most flexible athletes. So you should do what gymnasts do, right?

    Well... yes and no.

    I spent time working with Ukraine's national rhythmic gymnastics team in Kiev. Those girls are insanely flexible but they often suffer injuries resulting from poor joint stability. The culprit was a combination of excessive use of traditional stretching at a very young age (as young as 3 in some cases), and a lack of proper strength training. They all improved after I implemented a basic weight lifting program consisting of squats and dead lifts.

    You say in your original post you "want to get high kicks and splits," so I'm guessing you didn't take up gymnastics as a kid. Most of their methods won't work at your age. What you should take from gymnastics is that the ability to perform splits without a warm-up will let you lift your legs above your head all day long until the day you die. As martial artists who kick, we should take heed because dynamic flexibility (i.e. the ability to kick high without being able to do splits) tapers off as we age. A greater flexibility reserve (the gap between your static and dynamic flexibility) negates this decline. If you just want to throw single power kicks - like in Muay Thai for example - and aren't bothered about keeping your kicks in old age, just do leg swings twice a day and I'll see you at the bar.

    But if you want to throw multiple kicks without putting your leg down - like in Taekwondo for example - you should learn to do splits.

    So if gymnasts are out, who do we look to? The second most flexible group of athletes: Olympic weight lifters. You should focus on getting more flexible by doing dynamic strength exercises like heavy squats and dead lifts. Pick a basic but effective protocol like StrongLifts 5 x 5.

    Now, you're only fourteen. Some experts warn against strength training before a certain age, that such exercises can damage growth plates. You might be concerned as you're still going through the growth spurt. But understand that these injuries are almost always due to lifting way too heavy with really poor form. At your age you should be fine, if you:

    1) learn from a qualified coach;

    2) take your time;

    3) have fun.

    When you can drop your butt to your heels in a normal squat (feet shoulder width), you can start looking at gradually widening your stance until you're effectively doing a Turkish get-up from a full side split.

    If all this sounds like too much hard work, drop your current martial art for judo or BJJ until you're 18 and then hammer the isometrics.

    Best wishes,

  5. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Hello ZeLuis

    First listen to Van Zandt's advice

    Second In JKD you don't need to do the splits to kick high or powerfully, so don't panic about your (lack of) flexibility too much. There is so much more to get your teeth into!
  6. Wildlings

    Wildlings Baguette Jouster

    Van Zandt sir, what if one has no access to weights? :D
    I have to get by with bodyweight only, no problems with upper body as the infinite variations of push ups and pull ups serve me fine, but for lower body there isn't much but the pistol squat and glute ham raise. Are these enough or do I need something else?
  7. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Bloody hell! Say his name and he appears.

    I wonder if that works with everyone?

    Kate Beckinsale!
  8. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    That's Lord Van Zandt, actually. Like Vader, just a bit shorter and nuts about cats.

    You're old enough for isometrics. You can push them four days a week if you want to be agressive. That alone will do you for a while. But there comes a point where bodyweight resistance is not enough. You need to train raw strength, so we're talking squats and dead lifts with heavy weight and low reps. You need to accept the fact you require access to sufficient loads. A sturdy backpack filled with rocks or bottles of water will only cut it for a while. Does your local council not run free access sessions to public gyms? I'm aware a lot of places do, albeit with restricted days/times and poorly trained staff.
  9. Wildlings

    Wildlings Baguette Jouster

    "Hello dear!"

    Looks like it doesn't work, guy :D
  10. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    I'm going to hunt you down.
  11. Wildlings

    Wildlings Baguette Jouster

    Sure, my lord :D
    Muscles of mine, prepare for hell :evil:

    Oh please, I'm in Italy :D no free access to gyms, our politicians like their people fat.
    So the pistol won't help, you're saying?
  12. Wildlings

    Wildlings Baguette Jouster

    *Runs for cover*
  13. Princess Haru

    Princess Haru Valued Member

    Surely when you get to Uni there will be some access to weights
  14. Wildlings

    Wildlings Baguette Jouster

    For sure, if I can afford it. But that's still one more year to go!
  15. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Well, sure. The pistol squat will help a bit. It will certainly strengthen the muscles that stabilise your knee. But the exercises you do should be specific to your sport or activity. The heavy squats I'm referring to have you gradually opening up your stance, so you're squatting wider and wider. After a while you will do what I call side split squats: you essentially walk down into a side split, and back up again, with a heavy barbell across your shoulders. But this skill first requires you being able to squat low in a normal stance, which is almost a sport in itself.
  16. Wildlings

    Wildlings Baguette Jouster

    Omg :D
    So. If I have understood well, I should go with dynamic stretching, isometrics and pistol for the moment, then switch to weights if I can. Right?

    Sorry, slept two hours tonight :D
  17. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Sure. Bodyweight squats, push-ups and dips will form a good base to build upon later when you add serious weights. To be honest, I'd switch out the pistols for Hindu squats. They are (in my opinion) far better for strengthening your knee ligaments. I still do sets of 100 or 200 Hindu squats after my heavy barbell squats. If you are in a hurry to get your splits, you need to find a good gym as soon as you're able.

    If you're not in such a rush, don't forget you can still achieve splits with relaxed stretches (albeit much, much slower).
  18. Wildlings

    Wildlings Baguette Jouster

    Thank you, my lord.
    I'm already doing hindu squats, so allright. For the moment I do not care so much for splits as much as high kicks, and considering we use lots of thai style kicks at my gym they should get decent improvement with dynamic stretches.
    For the rest, I'll stick to your advice.
    You rock dude! :cool:
  19. seiken steve

    seiken steve golden member

    Turns up for one hour and drops a knowledge bomb, ha.

    So VZ the exercise you where refereeing to, one would set up for a regular Backsquat then work down to the splits? I'm having trouble picturing this here.
  20. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Back squat can work, but I've found front squat works better for most people as it forces them to stay upright and reduces the risk of the low back from rounding out. Think of it as a sumo squat but much wider. When using dumbbells I've had one onlooker refer to it as a Turkish side split get up. I'll post up some photos this week when I get time.

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