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Gymnastic Bodies stretching program; read Olivia's pinned post


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What does everyone else think?

Not sure what other formats were evaluated, but yes I prefer this to a rather stylised eg yogaglow traditional studio fitness offering with a teacher and selected students. With Kit's experience I can only imagine the learning curve will go very fast and the wrinkles will be ironed out in no time.

I already commented that seeing the pace and flow of the programming as well as the chance to observe master teachers at work and hear the cues they use being delivered in an unscripted manner is golden.

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Personally I like both formats and I find both important.

Maybe by the time you can build up a "library of exercises" as in the "Master-Series" and additional follow-allong-classes where these exercises are put into practice.

I really like the HD-Format and I like it in colour please ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...

We welcome criticism here, and we use it. We are not only open to this, we regard it as essential, for many reasons. I will blog on this some time in the future, but the mind's movement to discriminating between objects, schools, everything (no, deeper: dividing the world into the half you like and the half you don't want) is THE root of the world's problems. We (the people comprising ST) are interested in the pursuit of excellence. We will borrow from any system that looks like it might assist that goal, and with attribution, if that's the right thing to do.

This kind of attitude alone makes me enjoy Kit's work a lot. Besides being a great teacher/coach he seems to be an awesome person.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not sure if my post is best here or elsewhere, but I am writing it here for a couple of reasons:

1. I am a longtime user of GB bodies gymnastic strength info and wondered myself how Coach Sommer's and Kit's stretching systems compare, and

2. I attended one of Kit's Stretching for Gymnastic Strength Training seminars, have documented my results since, and plan to do the same with the GB stretching series.

I attended Kit's ST for GST course in Melbourne in March 2014. The two day course covers pike, straddle, and bridge, these being positions fundamental to many gymnastic skills. I attended because I am at a point where I finally realise my inflexibility is the biggest barrier to continuing progress in my own gymnastic goals.

I needed a kickstart into stretch training, and I got it with this weekend course. The stretches are excellent, Kit and Olivia are thorough and attentive presenters, and even though I have the Master video series, the course was invaluable for helping me to really use the videos properly. Also, even though I have had an academic interest in stretching for many years (I have Thomas Kurz' book, have had Kit's books for years, follow Ido's progressive loaded stretching, know about PNF stretching, and all the types of passive and active stretching), there were a couple of techniques I learned with Kit which have had a profound affect on both my willingness to stretch and my progress. Really. Like I said, the kickstart I needed.

Kit has stated that he is open to feedback, and so I will go on to say, it wasn't all peaches and cream for me. Kit and Olivia are not into sets and reps; they teach stretching as an intuitive, individualised and ongoing exploration, and they consider that stretching goes far beyond the physical. I am open to that, and I have quite enjoyed adopting that approach over the past month since the seminar. BUT...

Advertising a course as ST for GYMNASTIC STRENGTH TRAINING is going to attract the kind of people who are into...you guessed it...gymnastic strength training. And gymnasts do not train their stretching in an exploratory, intuitive manner. They hold for time, they do reps. Throughout the weekend, I was frustrated not to be getting these kinds of answers: held for how long? how often? in which order? etc etc. I was not the only one asking questions in this vein. If you advertise to people who train like gymnasts, it is only to be expected that they will expect a program like gymnasts use.

I am sure Kit and Olivia also get frustrated being presented with this line of questioning. Kit does not consider these questions to be useful, and over the past month, I have really come to appreciate their stretching paradigm. Stretching as a means of personal growth...I feel as though I've been given a valuable tool. That said, I am not sure the ST for GST title is not slightly misleading.

I have been stretching three times a week: bridge, pike, and straddle on separate days, using Kit's Mastery series. I am very happy with my progress. See the attached photos. The bridge photo shows my bridge before and after a stretch session. The pike and straddle photos are both taken at the END of a stretching session following Kit's series, one month apart. Check out the better compression in my pike- ribs closer to thighs. The straddle is a bit harder to see (I'll make sure I don't wear floppy clothing next time for the 'after' shot), but I actually had my head on the ground in the after shot. Impossible for me the weekend of the course 1 month prior.

post-3333-0-80054400-1430450422_thumb.jppost-3333-0-12839500-1430450446_thumb.jppost-3333-0-39939400-1430450466_thumb.jp

A few more things: the Mastery series are excellent and worth every penny and more. Kit and Olivia are incredible people, making this information available at this price. I really appreciated spending time with both of them in person as well. They are very different presenters, and I think they complement each other very well.

I have decided to buy the GB stretch series. I expect to find more loaded stretches and strengthening stretches, and I think they will be an excellent addition to my stretching program. But I am really glad I spent the time with Kit's information ALONE first. It is some of the stretches I learned from Kit which I have previously especially disliked and avoided, and after working with them for the past 6 or so weeks, I believe they are also ones which I personally need (at least at this point in time to actually extend my stretching range). I am so grateful for the knowledge, and I know I'll be continuing with these stretches for a long time to come.

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Hi Blythe

Appreciate all your comments above. To respond to a few of them ...

You write:

Advertising a course as ST for GYMNASTIC STRENGTH TRAINING is going to attract the kind of people who are into...you guessed it...gymnastic strength training.

Agree. Along with people doing all the other activities/sports listed in the workshop description (see the website for this), and who are after a high level of flexibility, as compared to the Into the Stretch 'market' which has its focus on gentler versions, and covers the whole body rather than working towards particular difficult (for most adults) end positions like pancake.

And gymnasts do not train their stretching in an exploratory, intuitive manner. They hold for time, they do reps.

Yes: I spent many years in that environment. The key point is that gymnasts start when they are young children and their bodies do respond to this approach with regard flexibility work (and they don't question anything they are taught!). In our experience, adults bodies do not, and our work is (principally) for adults. More and more people are starting their involvement with GST as adults and finding that the biggest limitation to their progress with GST is lack of flexibility: we made the Mastery series, and offer the ST for GST workshop, for this reason.

Throughout the weekend, I was frustrated not to be getting these kinds of answers: held for how long? how often? in which order? etc etc. I was not the only one asking questions in this vein.

Okay. From what you write later in your post, however, you seem to have taken on board the approach detailed in the answers you did get at the workshop, and have been getting good results. What set and reps did you use—or did you just go with what your body was now telling you? More below.

If you advertise to people who train like gymnasts, it is only to be expected that they will expect a program like gymnasts use.

If I've understood what you mean here, I can't agree. Among other audiences (dancers, martial artists, to name two), we advertise the ST for GST workshop to adults who are doing gymnastics strength training, which requires superior flexibility, and knowing that most adults do not possess this, we offer the suite of techniques that we have found effective in improving flexibility in adult bodies so that they can progress in their GST work. We have never suggested that our program is "a program like gymnasts use": I'm repeating myself now ... the Stretch Therapy approach is absolutely not this.

I am sure Kit and Olivia also get frustrated being presented with this line of questioning.

I won't speak for Kit, except to say that he's not one to get frustrated by any questioning: his job is to answer the questions of the people who attend our workshops, and those who post on this forum, and we welcome all comments and questions; they are what help us constantly revisit and refine our approach.

Kit does not consider these questions to be useful,

That's not quite accurate. Our goal in the workshops is to give the attendees as full and as rich an experience of Stretch Therapy as is possible within the 12 hours we are working with them: we closely gauge how the group is tracking in terms of energy, both physical and mental, and get through as much as possible but try not to completely overload either physically or mentally/emotionally. Along with this, our goal is to teach the Stretch Therapy approach to stretching. The answer to your question about "how long to hold, how often, in which order", which from what you've written here you clearly took away from the workshop (yey!) is ... work on those exercises that were the most affecting in your body at the workshop, practise them once (or possibly twice) per week and see how your body responds. (And, use this forum to share what you did and what you found.)

and over the past month, I have really come to appreciate their stretching paradigm. Stretching as a means of personal growth...I feel as though I've been given a valuable tool.

I'm very pleased.

That said, I am not sure the ST for GST title is not slightly misleading.

What would you suggest as an alternative?

I have decided to buy the GB stretch series. I expect to find more loaded stretches and strengthening stretches, and I think they will be an excellent addition to my stretching program.

Please report back here. Kit and I cannot access the GB products, unfortunately, but we're sure to be shown the GB stretching techniques by those who can at some point.

But I am really glad I spent the time with Kit's information ALONE first. It is some of the stretches I learned from Kit which I have previously especially disliked and avoided, and after working with them for the past 6 or so weeks, I believe they are also ones which I personally need

This is a tremendous outcome on many, many levels: fantastic.

(at least at this point in time to actually extend my stretching range). I am so grateful for the knowledge, and I know I'll be continuing with these stretches for a long time to come.

Please share on this forum all that you find, both in your own body and with your gymnasts.

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Hi Blythe

I can empathise with your "frustration" if you come to ST with specific and clear goals and used to programmed training and progressions. I had similar questions and was looking for similar answers when I attended ITS last year, and didn't leave with the answers I wanted to hear either.

I got home and wrote myself a program anyway. But quickly realised some of my program felt like a waste of time, some really seemed to "click" and deliver progress, some was just frustrating but I knew it was "right". So I ditched the wasteful stuff, spent 60-80% on the productive stuff and the balance on the hard stuff. The key is to pay attention to the feelings, regularly revisit the material and challenge what you are doing, take stuff out and add new things. Dont get me wrong, it is still very focussed on my goals, not random.

At the end of the day, I view ST a bit like LEGO... build your own vision using the blocks rather than keep re-building the same spaceship that was pictured on the box. Do you get there quicker? Probably, maybe, almost certainly, but it's definitely much more fun.

Great results by the way!

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I think your Lego analogy perfectly demonstrates the difference between ST and GB stretching. Here Kit gives you that bucket with like 5000 bricks and tells you all the different things you can build then asks you to figure out what you want to build. The GB approach is that small box of legos that let you build a death star or some other specific figure.

Some timed people just want to be told what to do because stretching is secondary to them which is why I appreciate the GB stretch course. But I also like Kits work because I can find the right exercises to work specifically on my weaknesses. Both are great on their own but together they are amazing. There is no need to fight over what is better. They are just different.

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Advertising a course as ST for GYMNASTIC STRENGTH TRAINING is going to attract the kind of people who are into...you guessed it...gymnastic strength training. And gymnasts do not train their stretching in an exploratory, intuitive manner. They hold for time, they do reps.

I use both actually. After my workout when I'm pressed for time, I generally stick to some stretches for a fixed period of time just to get the kinks out. On the weekend when there aren't any deadlines, I tend to hang out a bit longer and wait until I can feel a noticeable change and explore a bit. Both are useful in their own way. But some stretches are useful when I hold them for thirty seconds, others I hold for five minutes. This is something I'm working on personally, and I think it would be impossible for Kit to tell everyone what will work for them with a pre-defined program. Every body is structurally unique. To define, in relative isolation, a perfect program that will work for everyone is impossible.

I think what defined sets and reps can provide is a sense of security. It gives you a clear set of guidelines of where to start, and when you're done. It looks like your pancake is developed enough that perhaps you feel relatively comfortable in the position, and for you a strictly defined program is all that's required. But you need to appreciate how many people can't even sit up to 90 degrees in that position. They don't have any frame of reference to even begin to try a pancake stretch. In these fringe areas of flexibility, nebulous concepts of waiting, relaxing and exploring are the only possible approach.

While a lot of us are trying to train in gymnastics type movement, we're not actually gymnasts. In sports settings, the goal is generally for everyone to work towards a unique peak. Those who achieve the peak are the hard workers, and everyone else failed. In my view, stretch therapy is entirely about making improvements exclusively relative to one's self. In this context, strictly defined goals and programming become very difficult. Perhaps there is a strictly defined program that will work for everyone but frustratingly, I think it's probably up to the individual to define it.

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I use both actually. After my workout when I'm pressed for time, I generally stick to some stretches for a fixed period of time just to get the kinks out. On the weekend when there aren't any deadlines, I tend to hang out a bit longer and wait until I can feel a noticeable change and explore a bit. Both are useful in their own way. But some stretches are useful when I hold them for thirty seconds, others I hold for five minutes. This is something I'm working on personally, and I think it would be impossible for Kit to tell everyone what will work for them with a pre-defined program. Every body is structurally unique. To define, in relative isolation, a perfect program that will work for everyone is impossible.

I think what defined sets and reps can provide is a sense of security. It gives you a clear set of guidelines of where to start, and when you're done. It looks like your pancake is developed enough that perhaps you feel relatively comfortable in the position, and for you a strictly defined program is all that's required. But you need to appreciate how many people can't even sit up to 90 degrees in that position. They don't have any frame of reference to even begin to try a pancake stretch. In these fringe areas of flexibility, nebulous concepts of waiting, relaxing and exploring are the only possible approach.

While a lot of us are trying to train in gymnastics type movement, we're not actually gymnasts. In sports settings, the goal is generally for everyone to work towards a unique peak. Those who achieve the peak are the hard workers, and everyone else failed. In my view, stretch therapy is entirely about making improvements exclusively relative to one's self. In this context, strictly defined goals and programming become very difficult. Perhaps there is a strictly defined program that will work for everyone but frustratingly, I think it's probably up to the individual to define it.

like / agree.

sometimes you need a stern hand to guide you away from making "stretches" more about just laying there instead of being under duress to develop the honesty to explore for yourself AND also, need to be intuitive enough to know when you help someone stretch for example that they should be uncomfortable, not panicky.

I appreciate Kit for not only taking "seemingly obvious" stretch positions and helping me gain depth, because its what helped me create the honesty of being under a stretch and I think that's one of the contributing factors in my mobility because i started really stiff but also for including that POV where there are landmarks, goals, yes in the sense that we want to reach a "destination" and now that the "destination is set with pike, pancake, bridge, etc, now it's time to learn how to "drive" or do the stretches efficiently to create grace.

i've attended BJJ classes lately where they talk about "destination" but call me out on being too tense, not "getting it" etc and when I ask "but how do i drive? how do i get from full guard to full mount? from turtle to side control?" they tell me i have to come to class....but im here! hahaha

I find the discussion interesting. sometimes we like to see patterns emerge, etc when we're asking is for a 1-2-3-4 guide when in the case of infinite biological variants, sometimes exploration is what finds the solution over beating down a wall. both are needed, knowing when to use which is an acquired skill.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi All,

 

Having experienced both the ST and GB stretch courses, I thought I would add my tuppence worth to the discussion. Hopefully people find it useful.

 

My initial thoughts upon using the ST mastery courses was that the individual stretches were for the most part (for my body) excellent. There were a few positions that didn’t really seem to work for me, but the majority were really useful and several allowed me to stretch those deep, tight spots. My only real criticism of the courses was that I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of stretches and the number of courses and I remained unsure as to how to programme them. In addition, the quality of the descriptions, multiple camera angles, sound quality etc. were really excellent. Also, needless to say, the prices for the ST courses blew me away: such high quality for so little money!

 

I had really high hopes for the GB stretch courses: after all, gymnasts are some of the most flexible people on the planet and Coach Sommer’s athletes and affiliate members all appear to have outstanding flexibility. Add to that the fact that Coach kept talking about how the GB stretch courses would “blow everything else out the water” and my anticipation was high. I have to say, I was very impressed with the courses upon first viewing. I loved (and still do) the seemingly logical progressions and programming and I was able to learn quite a few new poses from following the courses. The visual and sound quality is very high, although Coach Sommer’s position and alignment descriptions aren’t great and multiple camera angles should have been used (this criticism applies to the Foundation courses too). The high cost of the GB courses wasn’t really too much of an issue for me and I was happy to part with the money for a product that will act as a reference source for a lifetime.

 

Having followed the GB courses since they were released, I have now come to the following conclusions:

  1. I am permanently sore! Once I am thoroughly warmed up, I can display impressive flexibility in some positions, e.g. head to shins during inverted stall bar pike stretch. However, the rest of the time, my muscles and joints ache/DOMS and even bending over is a chore. I also don’t get a sense of deep relaxation after the courses; rather walking is difficult for a while! Stretching used to make me feel wonderful, now I just feel beaten up! You could argue that I have perhaps been stretching too intensely, and I agree this is definitely a potential cause: to his credit, Coach Sommer constantly re-iterates throughout the courses that the stretches should be “moderately uncomfortable” and I have perhaps been over-zealous. However, I believe the volume for certain bodyparts in the GB courses is excessively high and when coupled with the integrated mobility in the Foundation courses there is little time for recovery to occur (For me anyway. As an aside, this has been my experience with the strength exercises in the Foundation courses too.). For example, the pike course cycles through 5 intense single-leg pike stretches. When you combine the pancake and pike courses there is a huge amount of hamstring stretch work, but hip flexors, calves,  glutes and piriformis are only paid lip service, often with less-than-effective stretches for my body.
  2. Also, there is no real use of partial poses to achieve the final pose. For example, I am limited in my pike by my lower back, glute/pirifomis and gastrocnemius flexibility. There very few poses in the GB courses to address these areas specifically – the method appears to rely on battering away at final poses in the expectation that they will eventually result in everything loosening off (there was a sentence in the Stretching and Flexibility introduction regarding this that really hit home with me when I read it this weekend – I’ll look it up when I get home and post it).
  3. There is little or no use or discussion of specialist techniques, e.g. relaxation, C-R, micro-movements, etc. It is mentioned on one occasion that contracting quads will inhibit hamstrings.
  4. There is no individualisation and the courses assume that everyone has the same issues. I think it is good to have a set routine as it helps maintain focus and keeps people honest, but some individualisation is always required. This is a key feature of the ST approach.

As such, I decided that enough is enough, and spent the weekend re-reading my copies of Stretching and Flexibility and ONABP (especially the introductions) as well as the posts on this forum. Through reading more consciously and with a greater weight of experience, I came to the realisation that the issues that I have discussed above are all considered and talked about in those texts/discussions. It now seems obvious to me that the GB stretch courses would serve as excellent sequences for already-flexible gymnasts/dancers but, for me anyway, I’m not sure they’ll be effective long term. I have used what I’ve learned to return to a more moderate, balanced routine which makes use of partial poses and specialist techniques as discussed above. I can’t argue that it appears some people have had excellent results with the GB stretch courses (although I’m not convinced some of these success stories weren’t already most of the way to being flexible and we also don’t get to see the failures!), but they don’t seem to agree with my body.

 

Hopefully Coach Sommer doesn’t read here and I don’t get banned form the GB forums for sharing my opinions and experiences!

 

NG

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for an extensive write up.

 

  1. Coach Sommer constantly re-iterates throughout the courses that the stretches should be “moderately uncomfortable”

 

 I got a bit caught up on this term and what it means.

 

A consistent thread in GB is that one must constantly seek, and simultaneously avoid the bleeding edge of intensity. If you're not progressing the answer is "simple", work harder. If you've injured yourself the answer is "simple", you've worked too hard. While one could simplistically argue that one needs to find that sweet spot of training intensity. In it's essence, this actually nothing more than a legal disclaimer with no direct relevance to training mentality. As an American company, GB exists in a society which is very paranoid about the litigiousness of it's consumers.

 

I find it impossible that one can place intensity as the goal, while simultaneously stating that we should avoid overly intense intensity. :rolleyes:  Given the number of people who joyously exclaim how much pain the stretch course causes them, maximum intensity is clearly the focus. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that anyone who is injured from the stretch course will get a stock response on how they just didn't listen.

 

My personal focus is to try and feel as little intensity as possible in as full a range of movement as possible. Being in a physically extreme position with no physical or mental intensity is a far more objective and clear goal (though not easy!).

 

It still leaves me rather melancholy that an entire community can seemingly forget, seemingly at the flip of a switch, that static stretching was previously considered 'pointless' on GB just a short while ago. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.  :unsure:

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"one must constantly seek, and simultaneously avoid the bleeding edge of intensity"

 

Ive been reading this thread with interest, though not so much personal involvement because I have not tried the GB program. And the earlier comment that someone was looking for a set number of reps etc perplexed me. Because to me one of the main things I get from stretching is playing with the edge of what is possible or advisable - going up to it one day, maybe going beyond it another day, learning what is too far, learning the signs, going less far another day, finding out how things depends on your body state moment to moment or that day, etc. It is a continual process of exploration and discovery which has to be reexamined every day, and which therefore remains continually stimulating.

 

I guess this is what is expressed by the above quotation.

 

Jim.

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A consistent thread in GB is that one must constantly seek, and simultaneously avoid the bleeding edge of intensity. If you're not progressing the answer is "simple", work harder. If you've injured yourself the answer is "simple", you've worked too hard. While one could simplistically argue that one needs to find that sweet spot of training intensity. In it's essence, this actually nothing more than a legal disclaimer with no direct relevance to training mentality. As an American company, GB exists in a society which is very paranoid about the litigiousness of it's consumers.

 

I find it impossible that one can place intensity as the goal, while simultaneously stating that we should avoid overly intense intensity. :rolleyes:  Given the number of people who joyously exclaim how much pain the stretch course causes them, maximum intensity is clearly the focus. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that anyone who is injured from the stretch course will get a stock response on how they just didn't listen.

Hi Colin,

 

Thanks for your insightful reply. Excellent points. I believe the mantra in the past was that you should work hard but not too hard, particularly on strength exercises. This was certainly the advice given in the old Building the Gymnastic Body (BtGB) book. I wonder if was changed when it was realised that a lot of people weren't making particularly great progress on the Foundation courses. On a similar topic, I was re-reading BtGB the other day and the recommendations for volume of strength exercise were significantly lower than espoused in Foundation - typically 3x3 or 3x5 versus the 5x5 recommended today. This is perhaps a way of ensuring people are over-prepared before moving on, however I think it is too much volume for a lot of adults who are heavier and taller than children: for example, some people will never be able to perform 5x5 HeSPUs but they may be able to work up to 3x3.  It is interesting to note that if you watch the older GB videos on YouTube or in the Foundation courses, 3 reps are always performed, potentially suggesting that 3x3 is the template Coach Sommer's athletes followed to build basic strength.  Final point on this (off-)topic is that Coach wrote in BtGB about the proficiency of some of his athletes in exercises like L-sits and they were significantly below the times required for mastery in the Foundation series. Anyway, I am merely speculating and this is a bit off-topic from stretching, but it's food for thought nonetheless.

 

I was re-reading through my 1st Edition copy of S&F last night and was surprised to find how many of the exercises and corresponding cues that appear in the GB stretch courses are included therein, e.g. lifting of leg to side during prone shoulder capsule stretch. I wonder who learned it from who, or if the same conclusions were arrived at independently by both parties.

 

Your point about litigation is probably spot on. It is less of an issue in the UK, although things are heading that way for sure!

 

Cheers,

N

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I guess this is what is expressed by the above quotation.

 

I think most of us are here to push our limits, I was speaking more specifically about training intensity. The GB dichotomy is in how one should approach those limits, not the question of whether someone should approach them.

 

I also enjoy working at the ragged edge, if you're never on the edge you'll never move past it. But from a training perspective, the advice is without depth. My main point is that they are just hollow words wrapped in orthodoxy and marketing. And in that context of orthodoxy, competing and contrary ideas can all be held up as true simultaneously.

 

To seek intensity constantly is to encourage discomfort. To feel at ease in the most difficult of situations is to own them completely.

 

Anyway, I am merely speculating and this is a bit off-topic from stretching, but it's food for thought nonetheless.

 

Some very interesting contradictions. This is a consistent thread, what is true now has always been true and will remain true until it is supplanted by the next truth. The capacities of his athletes are legendary, though perhaps the legends are more akin to those of King Arthur, than Alexander the Great. The exemplars in the Foundation course videos are far from perfect.

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The other interesting issue with working at the edge of intensity is that the attributes developed in a lot of programs is entirely linear.  It's quite easy to see in stretch therapy that a small adjustment to the line of force can drastically change the response in the body, you only need a micro adjustment of something like 1cm to make the hip flexor stretch go from comfortable to OH MY GOD PLEASE KILL ME NOW levels of discomfort.  The same is true of strength training.  As a result, straddling this edge of intensity is quite a risky endeavour; especially if the line of force just over is not adequately prepared - if you are on a strong line at your limit, and you adjust yourself slightly and pop over to a weak line, you will be far beyond this edge in this particular arrangement of the body.

 

The solution for this I've been experimenting with is to approach training using both linear and circular movements.  Of course a pure gymnast would address lots of these elements in their actual apparatus practice, which people only doing GST don't get to do. With circles, its impossible to leave a line of weakness as a neighbour to a line of strength, you have no choice but to work with the weakest link, as you will lose the circular shape by going any further.

 

Some ideas you could play with:

- In a quadrupedal position, draw circles in three planes (sagittal, frontal, transverse) with the sternum.  You could also shift each of the planes, for example, if you are drawing a sagittal circle with the chest, the plane would intersect roughly half way between your hands.  Shift the sternum until it is closer to the left hand and repeat the circle (it will now be closer to a one armed circular pushup). With the coronal/frontal plane (relative to the ground, not the body), the circle of the sternum would create a movement such that the head would draw a circle on a wall in front of you.  if you move the whole plane forward, you draw the same circle in a pseudo planche position, if you move the plane back, it shifts the weight on to the feet and makes it very easy for the arms. With the transverse plane (again, relative to the ground not the body), you would be drawing circles that are parallel to the ground. Most people will immediately go for the easiest position - doing it with straight arms.  you could also do it with half bent arms, and eventually with completely bent arms, drawing the circle while hovering a cm off the ground.

 

Just using circles of the sternum, this same idea can be repeated in the rowing position, in the pullup/chinup position, the handstand position, with scapula pushups and with scapula pulling (think of a circular version of the active hang). It's a very powerful tool that I use in my own training and with lots of the people I train with.  This is a kind of horizontal training (training many parts of things at a particular level) rather than vertical training (progressing a single part to higher levels). Lewie West talks a lot about horizontal vs vertical progress, and uses the concept all the time. An example of horizontal training would be once you achieve a cartwheel, learning how to do a cartwheel in multiple directions, from multiple positions, to multiple positions, on both sides.  An example of vertical training would be once you achieve a cartwheel, learning how to do a one handed cartwheel, and then an aerial cartwheel.

 

Kudos to SimonT for getting me on board the circle train! choo choo!

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  • 2 months later...

Kit,

From some of your posts elsewhere, it sounds like you have now seen the GB courses? If so, are you able to give your updated thoughts on them? Appreciate this may be something you don't want to comment on, so please delete this post if you feel it is inappropriate.

Thanks,

N

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  • 4 years later...

It is great to hear Kit mention the fact he does not use professional dancers, gymnasts etc. to show his poses. I am new to stretching and VERY tight. I am making great progress, but my forays into yoga left me a bit confused - I could only really find demonstrations of perfect and beautiful poses! Mine never look like that. On closer examination (and now I know what I am looking for) I notice from wrist and elbow joint angles many of these models are hypermobile. Straining too hard to put myself into poses like that will do me damage. I guess this is a long winded way of saying I really like your approach!

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@GarethW

On 2/6/2020 at 1:59 AM, GarethW said:

Straining too hard to put myself into poses like that will do me damage.

If will power and sets and reps was what one needed to become flexible, then many more adults who do GST would be flexible. Sets and reps are simply an inefficient way to unlock the body: what might take years using the S&R approach can be shortcut by using the necessary partial pose by itself for a month or two. Stretching piriformis is a perfect example: if piriformis is limiting flexion at the hip (read up on piriformis syndrome), no amount of pike practise will loosen it, and your pike practise will both be stalled, and very painful. 

All exercises in say Master the Squat must be tried, and tried honestly: am I moving the way the demonstrators are moving, and if not, what do I need to bend or re-align or prop until I can? What do I feel when in the limit position? Can I take in a breath, and can I let my tummy soften as I do? If I wait there, feeling what's going on, can I relax a bit further in the stretch direction?

All the "partial poses" in our system are potential 'unlockers' in this way. Work on all the components of the larger movements (let's continue to use the pike for this explanation, but the principle applies to all end poses) first, and by themselves for a while if you have been using a brute strength approach to stretching up until now. Avoiding the end poses for a while will give the body a needed rest, too. Work on piriformis, use props, attend to seemingly tiny details, work on the calf muscles, and perhaps add some stick or rolling components for these too, and do the relaxation practises daily (these are free on our site, under "Audios").

And importantly, drop a minimum of one strength training sessions a week and stretch instead. Personally, I prefer to stretch after doing strength training, because strength training is the best possible warm-up for stretching. And re-read "The secrets of stretching". 

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Thanks for the advice Kit,

I am a total stretching novice, just getting into it. I have actually started stretching as a prelude to beginning strength training. I am not confident that my range of motion will currently allow me to do classic barbell lifts (deadlift, squat etc.) safely, so I have decided to focus on flexibility and mobility for a year or so first.

Gareth

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13 hours ago, Kit_L said:

@GarethW

If will power and sets and reps was what one needed to become flexible, then any more adults who do GST would be flexible. Sets and reps are simply an inefficient way to unlock the body: what might take years using the S&R approach can be shortcut by using the necessary partial pose by itself for a month or two. Stretching piriformis is a perfect example: if piriformis is limiting flexion at the hip (read up on piriformis syndrome), no amount of pike practise will loosen it, and your pike practise will both be stalled, and very painful. 

All exercises in say Master the Squat must be tried, and tried honestly: am I moving the way the demonstrators are moving, and if not, what do I need to bend or re-align or prop until I can? What do I feel when in the limit position? Can I take in a breath, and can I let my tummy soften as I do? If I wait there, feeling what's going on, can I relax a bit further in the stretch direction?

All the "partial poses" in our system are potential 'unlockers' in this way. Work on all the components of the larger movements (let's continue to use the pike for this explanation, but the principle applies to all end poses) first, and by themselves for a while if you have been using a brute strength approach to stretching up until now. Avoiding the end poses for a while will give the body a needed rest, too. Work on piriformis, use props, attend to seemingly tiny details, work on the calf muscles, and perhaps add some stick or rolling components for these too, and do the relaxation practises daily (these are free on our site, under "Audios").

And importantly, drop a minimum of one strength training sessions a week and stretch instead. Personally, I prefer to stretch after doing strength training, because strength training is the best possible warm-up for stretching. And re-read "The secrets of stretching". 

On the topic of dropping strength training sessions I feel like I need to drop an entire strength/hypertrophy cycle before I can make progress with stretching.

My usual work goes on the lines of 4 months of hypertrophy --> 3 months strength --> 3 months skill.

During hypertrophy I can maintain flexibility easily with minimal time investment but I cannot make any progress. During strength I can make a little progress in selected focus areas. During skill I can make 3x the progress of a strength cycle; my body simply is not battered and broken every day which is the natural response to high volume intensity training.

Time is not the issue here but the level of mental fatigue and inflammation of the body certainly is for me. At least that is what I am thinking.

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  • 10 months later...

I have just subscribed to GB even tho' I've seen the critical remarks on reddit. The strength exercises are very good, easy gradual steps. However, the mobility and stretch programs are so mundane and boring, lacking any real cues (breathing, relaxing, CR, etc) and are way inferior to Stretch Therapy. The models in these (GB) programs are so incredibly flexible and in no way do they represent the majority of their subscribers (refer Kit's comments about using pole dancers, etc to demonstrate the stretches). Here are some examples of these sessions...Chris Sommers walks around the group of GB models with a stopwatch in hand and counts the time "30 seconds gone", "one minute to go", "5 seconds left", and so on.  There is no cue to  breathe and relax into the stretch, soften the belly, contract and relax or any of the helpful cues we see on the Stretch Therapy sessions. Chris does mention that these sessions should be done once a week to allow recovery and cautions against going too hard in the exercises...good points there but when you compare with ST sessions, you simply miss out on those helpful cues from Kit and Olivia. In the GB menu of mobility/stretching exercise (covering knees, shoulders, hips, elbows and so on) there are better programs with ST in the book, video and YouTube. I've just done a full month (November 2020) and into December and progressing on gymnastic skills and strength with enthusiasm but I always refer to ST for my mobility/flexibility. Surprisingly, there are no more comments on this topic since 2015!? unless there are more elsewhere. Anyone care to comment?

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3 hours ago, tcampbellcowie said:

Surprisingly, there are no more comments on this topic since 2015!? unless there are more elsewhere. Anyone care to comment?

To put it frankly, it seems to me that there is simply no conversation to be had around the subject. I've never seen anyone happy with the GB stretching program aside from hardcore GB fans who would follow anything released simply because it was GB. That's just my personal experience - I don't doubt that it might work reasonably well for certain people. But we're not in the business of converting anyone here. We're more interested in helping, which means focusing on resources we feel good about recommending. (Just my own, personal immediate thoughts.)

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