By: Tim Rigby (Courtesy of Inside Fitness)
Treat an active stretch workout the same way you would any resistance training workout. Perform sets for reps using excellent form without compromising your technique. For the more complex moves, make sure you master each step getting into position before you make the movement active. Don’t rush, be patient, and try to feel the stretches in each rep without over-extending yourself. This workout can be performed three times each week.
Start: Sit tall on the floor with your back straight and head up. Bend your legs to 90-degrees at the knees and rotate them to the right until they’re almost flat on the floor. Draw your hands together in front of you (as shown) such that they form a 90-degree angle with one hand over the other. Prepare yourself to maintain a fixed upper body while your lower body is dynamic.
Finish: Preserving the 90-degree bend in your legs, while also keeping your back straight and chin up, rotate your legs toward the left. At the half-way point, your knees will cross just underneath your elbows and hands. Continue the leftward rotation until the left sides of your legs are just about parallel to the floor. Continue in this manner back and forth.
Start: Position yourself on the floor, facing down with your body elongated. Keep your back straight and your head in line with your spine. Support yourself with your right arm and left quad perpendicular to the floor, and your left calf parallel to it. Contract through your core, then kick your right leg behind you and reach out with your left arm as shown.
Finish: From this initial position, you’re essentially going to be switching sides. Draw your right leg and left arm inward and re-balance yourself. Next, contract forcefully through your core again. Finally, kick your left leg behind you while reaching out with your right arm. All the while, be sure to keep your torso and head as steady as possible.
Start : Lie directly on the floor, facing upward with your body elongated. Extend your right leg outward and hover it just two inches above the floor. Draw your left leg inward such that it bends 90-degrees, and then rotate it slightly to the right. Touch your right hand to your left knee as shown, and reach behind with your left arm, also hovering it just above the floor.
Finish: Once again, you’ll be reversing the position of all your limbs here. Begin by drawing both arms and both legs in toward your core, while keeping your torso and head in a fixed position. From there, extend your left leg and hover it above the ground. Touch your left hand to your right knee as shown, and then reach behind with your right arm, hovering it slightly above the floor.
Start: Place yourself on the floor, facing up, and elongate your body. Rotate as far as you can to your right side, bringing your left leg completely over and across you, implementing a 90-degree bend at the knee. Also draw your extended left arm over and across you such that it comes together with your right arm. Together, reach them both outward in the plane of your shoulders.
Mid: Begin this move with the mindset that your entire lower half is going to remain motionless throughout the action. Simply rotate your left arm, still in an extended position, in an upward arc above you. Your head will rotate along with your arm, as shown.
Finish: Continue the rotation of your left arm, making sure to keep it in the plane of your shoulders. Once your head is facing upward from the floor, stop it at this point, while your arm continues to rotate all the way across to the other side. Then reverse the action and repeat; finally, switch up and work in the other direction.
WORLD’S GREATEST STRETCH
Start: Position yourself very low to the floor for this move, facing down and with your body long. Split your legs very wide with your right leg extended and supported by your toes; your left leg should be bent at 90-degrees with your foot at the level of your shoulders. Balance yourself with your right arm extended outward and your left forearm adjacent to your foot as shown.
Finish: Once again focusing on keeping your bottom half completely still, rotate your torso to the left and upward. Simultaneous to this, raise your left arm across the plane of your shoulders and extend it as you raise higher. In the top position, your left arm will be fully extended and almost parallel to the floor. Repeat for reps, then switch up and work the other side.
KETTLEBELL SINGLE-LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT
Start: Grasp a kettlebell in your right hand using a neutral grip and stand tall with your back straight and head level. Let both your arms hang freely at your sides adjacent to your body. Draw your right leg upward to a 90-degree bend at your knee such that your quad is parallel to the floor. Bend your left leg very slightly for stability.
Finish: Using control, slowly allow the kettlebell to descend toward the floor, keeping your arm extended. As your torso (with your back straight) comes forward, kick your right leg back behind you and extend it. Continue the descent until the kettlebell hovers just above the floor; you should form a ‘T’ with your right leg and torso parallel to the floor, supported only by your left leg. Reverse, repeat for reps, and then work the other side.
KETTLEBELL SINGLE-ARM HALF-KNEELING BOTTOM’S UP PRESS
Start: Grasp a kettlebell in your right hand using an overhand grip. Set yourself down on the floor in a kneeling position with your right leg behind and your left leg forward, both bent at 90-degrees as shown. Maintain an erect torso and place your left hand on your thigh for stability. Raise the kettlebell, upside down, until the handle is about at your nose level.
Finish: The range of motion here is short, but there is an element of balance required. Keep your entire body in a fixed position, except your right arm. Simply raise the bell upward until your arm is nearly fully extended, while feeling the pull/stretch in your lats. Hold for a split second, then reverse the motion down to the start. Repeat for reps, then work your left side.
SLIDER 45-DEGREE SKATER STRIDE
Start: Stand tall to begin this stretch and clasp your hands together, one over the other in front of you at the height of your pecs. Using control, slowly lunge semi-laterally (at about 45-degrees) to your right side, until your right quad is parallel to the floor. Your left leg should be nearly fully extended. Hold for a split-second just to feel the contraction in your right quad.
Finish: Complete the move by reversing the direction of action and raise up to an upright position, all the while keeping your hands steady. Then, descend in the form of another semi-lateral lunge over to the left side. Hold again just slightly and feel the stretch in your left quad. Once again, raise upright and continue this action from side to side.