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We have noticed that a lot of people following gymnastic strength training protocols get stuck on this element; one young man who posted on the Forums has been stuck on this element for over a year. There are a number of reasons this is so hard; here are the main ones:

Your
active
and
passive flexibility
in both the adductors and the hamstrings is
insufficient
; if you can’t do a pancake relatively easily (and that’s a position when gravity is working
for
you), then you will not be able to do this more-or-less vertical pancake with anything like decent form when gravity is definitely working against you.

You are
not strong enough
in the HFs and TFL in the fully contracted end of the range of movement (‘ROM’); part of this will be the sense in the body that you can’t
feel
how to activate this, or feeling that you can 'do it', and another part is what I wrote about the other day: the
reciprocal inhibition reflex
(‘RIR’) is literally
switching off
these same muscles (and the abs) because the proprioceptors in the hamstrings and adductors have reached the end of their ROM. This is one of Sherrington’s laws, and wishing it otherwise will not change it. It does not matter how strong you make these muscles in other ROMs; if the opposing muscle groups are signalling “stop”, it’s all over. Being strong and
feeling
that you have the strength to do something is identical.

Liv and I recommend strongly that the agonists (the muscles doing the active work) be activated and trained in a ROM and intensity of activity that really connects you sensorily to them. Believe me, if you are too tight to do a pancake, then all you will feel is the non-connection to the agonists
and
the very strong sensations from the antagonists—as they experience maximum stretch. We will demonstrate a standing exercise that will switch these on, and you will feel them switch on. Once ‘switched on’ they can be activated in other positions.

As well, once you are aware of how to activate them, we will show you how to actively stretch using a ‘reaching’ self cue: in the pancake elements (stretching over each leg, with shoulders parallel to the floor, for example, or the harder move, moving forwards between both legs), you need to
actively reach
out
with your arms in the same plane as the spine and, while lifting the chest, reach in the direction of the spine as vigorously as you can, and feel which muscles you are using to do this. These are the same ones you need for the straddle-up.

There’s more. We have notices that many people demonstrating this movement are using appalling form. A big call, maybe, but I will shoot Olivia demonstrating perfect form, and it will look quite different: spine and legs will be
straight
, not straight legs and a spine that looks like a banana. One major reason, apart from the reasons mentioned, that the straddle-up is executed so poorly, even by gymnasts, is that good form requires the thoracic and lumbar spines be gently
extending
while the hips are
flexing.
This is as far away from a daily life movement pattern as you can imagine: there no patterns exist like this in your life—so you have to create, then learn them, from new, in your own body. We will show you how. The reaching drills are the key.

The last reason this is so difficult is the degree of coordination and balance that is required for its proper performance. This is why we believe that mastering the pancake is actually a
prerequisite
for the straddle up, instead of the straddle-up being a preparatory element for the pancake.

In our forthcoming download product, called Mastering the pancake and the straddle-up, we will take you step by step through all the exercises and drills that we have found will most efficiently help you master these great exercises. Comments most welcome.

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I'm talking as a zombie boy over here. What's the prereq for Tailor pose? I've found that i have hard time for holding straight spine, It's rounding near the lower back. That's because my flutes and hammies are tight, right? I would,love to hear your opinion for pre -"master the pancake and straddle,up" stretches and limbering.

right now,on my list: tailor pose, kettlebell windmill, Cossack squat.

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Jaroslav wrote:

What's the prereq for Tailor pose? I've found that i have hard time for holding straight spine, It's rounding near the lower back. That's because my flutes and hammies are tight, right?

No prereq. for the Tailor pose, but you need a wall to get started (I will append the YT clip that describes this below). Putting your back against the wall holds the lower back straight and allows you to get the heels closer to the groin.

When I started, my back was shaped like the letter "C" and my knees were under my armpits (someone took a photo of me trying to do this in Bali). It took about five years to get me knees on the ground, but that was using the old-school methods. Most students, if they follow the directions in the video below will take three to six months to get the knees to the ground, ​if you don't stretch hard too often.

The reason (addressing Jaroslav's question, now) for difficulty in this pose is tight adductors (the muscles that pull the legs together), and the so-called 'short' ones in particular. I have mentioned gracilis before, when talking about legs apart movements, but in the Tailor pose, gracilis is relatively relaxed because the knees are bent.

http://en.wikipedia....cles_of_the_hip

post-2-0-11655900-1393013440_thumb.png

The Tailor pose is the best to stretch all these short adductors.

hth, kl

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Bringing this quote over from the GB forum:

I love Kit's stuff, own his book and regularly utilize the stretches contained in it and his YT channel. But, with all due respect to him his comments about Straddle-ups in that thread you linked to don't seem to take into account the specificity of why we are doing straddle-ups in F1.

Straddle-ups are a sign post on the road towards a Manna, which cannot be performed with a truly flat back like a full pancake is and thus discussing full pancakes in the context of building a Manna seems like a moot point.

Felt it was an interesting point that deserved an answer.

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B, thanks for posting this. Feel free to copy this from me back to the GB forums, if you wish:

Thanks for that comment. A number of responses: I am not a gymnast (though Olivia was); all we want to do is help people unlock their bodies. My remarks about restrictions to movements like straddle-up and the pancake have to be taken in context, and at no point would I recommend not practising the straddle-up, even if you can't do a good pancake, if that's working for you; my suggestions are for those for whom this is not the case.

As well, I do understand about the road to the Manna, and I understand that it is done with a curved spine, but the better the manna, the flatter the back, too. The manna is a bridge way too far though for someone who cannot sit on the floor with the lags outstretched, and with a vertical back—and I have seen many people like that at GB seminars, too. It is this population that my programs are for.

And the Manna, for me from my POV, is closer to the pike in its flexibility requirements because the legs are held together—this means that different muscles lift the legs (TFL, HF, and core in the case of the straddle-up; and mostly HF and core for the Manna). One of the big restrictions to the pike, and hence the manna, is that people can't close the hip angle when the legs are together. This is why doing wall squats with knees pulled to the chest as close as possible has helped people get a pike more quickly: this position stretches the fascia of the lumbar and glute area beautifully.

Last comment to Kegan: thanks for your kind words, but what I am talking about in the Mastering the Pike and Mastering the Pancake programs has not available anywhere that I know of, and I promise it will help you achieve your goals.

Please keep any relevant questions/comments coming here about what we are trying to do, wherever they appear. We just want our specialist info. to be available to those who need it.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm really pleased to see passive ROM gains carrying over to active movement.

After an awesome fortnight of bent-leg split progress, I did some locked-knee leg lifts from dead-hang and was shocked at the height I could get. It felt like I've had ankle weights on for years and I just took them off. I just tried a couple of straddle-ups; low and behold, I'm twice as close to my ears as when I last tried them two months ago. :D

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Tris wrote:

I just tried a couple of straddle-ups; low and behold, I'm twice as close to my ears as when I last tried them two months ago. :D

Just saying'!

:)

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  • 3 weeks later...

(Assuming the upcoming pancake/pike programs are done twice a week...)

Would working on the straddle-up to current ROM limitations help with closing the passive-active reserve?

And, would this be helpful as ROM improves?

Or is there really not much point working on the straddle-up until the pancake can be achieved passively?

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...

Liv and I recommend strongly that the agonists (the muscles doing the active work) be activated and trained in a ROM and
intensity of activity that really connects you sensorily to them
. Believe me, if you are too tight to do a pancake, then all you will feel is the non-connection to the agonists
and
the very strong sensations from the antagonists—as they experience maximum stretch. We will demonstrate a standing exercise that will switch these on, and you will feel them switch on. Once ‘switched on’ they can be activated in other positions.

...

I found this out by chance when I had to do my leg session before the straddle up session later on in the day (usually it's the other way round). Muscle soreness was felt doing the straddle up and made me much more connected to the movement.

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Kit when will the programs be available? You said you already shot 4 of them complete right. Hope we can download them soon.

Thanks

We just finished filming Master the Pike today. Off to the editor next, so there are still a few steps to go. Kit might want to comment on exactly how long is left.

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Referring to the first post: This explains quite a lot tbh, I've been on Foundation for a while, but was forced to give up straddle and V-ups, no matter how much i stretched beforehand I could NEVER get these exercises down, I always end up looking like a retarded fish stuck on land, or at least i feel like one:P - Cant wait for these programs.

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@ Tris, who wrote:

Would working on the straddle-up to current ROM limitations help with closing the passive-active reserve?

And, would this be helpful as ROM improves?

Yes and yes; but my suggestion is to emphasise the flexibility work over the SUp, only because time is limited. You do need to do some of them on a regular basis, because that strength in that ROM is not part of any daily life strength requirement, so needs mapping, and re-mapping.

​MH and I were talking about this recently, and we worked out that with the sitting, walking (Xing Yi), jumping, balancing, all the GST, and the ST we want to do, we will be playing/training about 26 hours a day.

So, the old African saying, "Measure twice, cut once." In this context, and knowing that we have limited time to devote to this, we decide which aspect is the most limiting, and devote a greater proportion to that.

Alternatively (and this is what I find myself doing, for many reasons) I tend to concentrate on single aspects in bursts, and try to get back to ignored ones before the body forgets them completely.

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Excellent, thanks Kit!

I'll probably start with the passive stretches (10-15min), and then do some active SUp reps to map it (2-3mins), 2x/week to fit it into my GST schedule.

Feeling inspired to photo my progress as I go.

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