Antagonist Short: ASLC is a concept under the umbrella of strength exercises in EasyFlexibility system. Extended Length Conditioning and Peripheral Conditioning are found in the same group. All three types of techniques work the joint in its deep range.
Each technique focuses on a specific muscle groups.
ELC works the target muscles in full stretch.
ASLC works the antagonists in short range.
PC works the peripheral muscle groups.
Antagonist Short Length Conditioning is a very important tool in flexibility retention. This technique allows the nervous and musculoskeletal systems to memorize and accept the new flexibility as standard.
Today we examine two variations of the Frog Exercise. These techniques are used to develop strength in the horizontal extensors / horizontal flexors of the hip.
Antagonist Short: Look the video below
Besides flexibility retention, ASLC builds strength in techniques where the contraction is needed in the muscles opposite in action to these being stretched. For example:
Muscles that abduct the internally rotate the hip during side line kicks.
Muscles that flex the hip front line kicks in martial arts or front attitude in dance.
Confusion With Other Similar Techniques
ASLC can be easily confused with Movement and Habituation techniques. As a matter of fact the exercise shown in the video can easily be placed into both categories.
M&H can work one or many muscle groups and ASLC focuses on antagonists only.
ASLC can add resistance or pause while M&H usually does not.
Reciprocal Inhibition technique also targets the antagonists. However RI would immediately be followed by a stretch and ASLC usually does not.
Dynamic stretch is also movement, frequently with antagonist contracting. ASLC is performed slower and without an attempt to increase the amplitude of movement.
Summarizing ASLC Techniques
Antagonist Short Length Conditioning is not a stretching technique. It’s a retention technique. It must be preceded by Zaichik Stretching technique, which would develop flexibility first, during the training session.
ASLC together with other strength exercises and M&H, then teaches the body to accept the newfound flexibility as normal.
And finally, ASLC can also be performed isometrically, by holding the joint angle as open as possible, by contracting the antagonists to the muscle groups, whose length is being extended.
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I had more people express concern about over-splitting in a center split, than in forward splits.
Many of the students who ask about this, want to have free range of motion at 180 degrees (something a full straddle does not provide) but are concerned about their joints.
How to over-stretch without over-stretching
Interestingly enough many don’t have any joint pains. Some, however, do have pain and usually in one of the hip joints. Please see this article to understand common mechanism of this unilateral injury.
How to Achieve “Restriction-Less” Movement
So now can you achieve the same “restriction-less” movement that over-splitting provides without actually over splitting? Technically you can.
There are two ways to do it.
How to over-stretch without over-stretching
Method 1. Stretch in each direction while in a straddle. This means that technically your legs don’t go past 180, but your muscles do.
A. Stretch to each leg B. Stretch chest to floor (toes up) C. Stretch 45 degrees, between forward and sideways.
Sounds simple, but there is a bit of a challenge here:
First, the legs will not want to remain straddled.
Second, the spine will try to compensate for each movement that should take place at the hip joint.
And third, if the muscles are overstretched on one side, the chance of injury goes up, when stretching that side.
Method 2. Use Zaichik Stretching Techniques (ZST).
ZSTs, except for ~Balance~ are not performed in a straddle. The challenge for many people is to see how these moves are related to a center split, meaning for example how exactly do exercises transfer into a split.
These are some ZST positions targeting different adductor muscles:
You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link: ZST for Strength Sports
You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link
When we talk about flexibility, the first thing that comes to mind is a soft lengthened position such as a side split, we also think of it as a vulnerable posture,
You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link: however it’s important to understand that our body will only allow us to go into the deepest ROMs when it feels it’s safe to do so, and the only way it will feel safe to do so is if it’s strong in that position.
So, while most people think of strength and flexibility as almost opposing, it couldn’t be further away from the truth.
The bench press
Since the focus is strength sports, we’ll take the bench press as an example.
We all know that the arch used for Powerlifting, has the purpose of protecting the shoulders help better activate the lower pectoral muscles, while keeping the spine safe and improve leg drive.
However the depth of you arch will solely depend on how strong your back muscles are in the position, so the endless hours of stretching will yield suboptimal results if you don’t lock that new acquired flexibility, but we all know you can’t go benching right after stretching, right?
With the ZST, we are taught not only the best kinesiological stretch to accomplish the most amount of flexibility on the abdominal muscles, but also the best strengthening exercise for the spinal erectors so we lock those flexibility gains into place.
Let’s review the technique called ~Perception~
First, you go into the Cobra position and with the hands under the shoulders push yourself up,
Now from the hip rotate your body to the right
And when you return to the front facing position you push yourself further away from the floor,
Now turn to the left and when you come back you push yourself further away.
This technique allows your body to create space for you to stretch even further, but you don’t want to stay too long in either position, as the “trick” is to avoid the stretch reflex, once you reach a maximum stretch you have acquired a new ROM, and it’s time to secure it into place with the accompanying strengthening exercise.
Securing the gains
Return to the cobra position and slightly push your torso slightly away from the floor,
Raise the hands from the floor and hold for five seconds,
Drop the hands and push your torso a little bit more,
Raise the hands once more, and repeat five times in total, as you progress hold the hands off the floor up to 20 seconds.
This will strengthen the back muscles and will make the abdominals safe in the stretch position.
You will see great progress if you incorporate this routine after every session
Mastered the Front Split: Once in a while people ask me this question: “Paul, you say that all the muscles stretched in a front split are also stretched in a side split (people usually mean true front splitwhen they say front split) so, how come there are many people who can do a true front split, and yet, are not able to do a side split without training for it separately?”
The reason is, when most people are able to do a true front split, the true front split that they perform is usually a deep flexibility of the front hamstrings and combined with hyper extension of the lower back and very little flexibility of the rear leg
You can see that in the video below:
You see it’s the rear leg where the adductors or the inner thighs are most stretched. Because, all four adductors are also flexors of the hip. And because these muscles are poorly stretched when majority of people perform their true front split, there is little carry over of that flexibility to the side split which of course requires lengthening of the adductors.
In theory if someone is doing a true front split or hip squared front split, where a lot of flexibility is taken from the rear leg and not just the front leg, that person will be able to carry that flexibility into a side split.
Providing that there’s no issues with the hip joint or other tissues besides the muscles, a person who mastered a structural true front split should have a very easy time converting that flexibility to the side split.
Even if the true front split is not completely structural but something close to it, it will be easier to master the side split already having the flexibility from the other split.
High Leg Extensions Solution:If you want to lift your legs high on your Developpes, Battements, Penche, etc., but your legs refuse to come up as high as you want them, a question arises:
“Are my legs not strong enough or not flexible enough? Which one is it? A strength or flexibility issue?”
High Leg Extensions Solution: Watch the Solutions
I’ve been asked this question many times. The short answer isthis: personally, if I want my leg to go up vertically and I have a chance to pick between strength and flexibility, I would choose flexibility every time.
Don’t get all upset now, strength is also important, your teacher is right. If you are going to move the leg around for a long time, doing hundreds of moves you need strength (actually strength-endurance).
However, to be able to point to “12 o’clock” with your leg for each specific technique is more flexibility related. If anything, biomechanically and physiologically the more flexibility you have the less strength you need.
Here’s Why Biomechanically:
The higher the leg goes up, (providing flexibility is not a restricting factor), the easier the leg extension becomes.
Confused? Pick up a heavy object, and keep your elbow straight. Extend the straight arm parallel to the floor. (Hand on the same level as the shoulder) Difficult to hold, right?Ok, now bring the arm straight up. (Hand holding the object directly over your shoulder) Much easier, right?This is because the first position, is mechanically more disadvantageous. Second one is more advantageous.
A tight muscle inhibits its antagonist.Do a front attitude with tight hip extensors, and try to hold it. The hip flexors and adductors will be in pain fast. Why? Because they are fighting the inhibition by the muscles that are trying to pull down. The weight of the leg is just a small reason.
High Leg Extensions Solution
Don’t believe me?
Measure how high your leg can go. Let’s say 90 degrees.
Now add a heavy ankle weight and hold the leg at 45-60 degrees.
You will hold it longer with the ankle weight at 45 or 60, then just the leg at 90 (the end range).
If the weight of the leg (strength requirement) was so important, you could not hold the leg with the ankle weight for so long, but you can.
So, the weakness of your hip flexors and adductors is not coming from the weight of the leg, but from the tight muscles pulling back down.
I do this experiment with my students all the time.
I use ZST (Zaichik Streching Technique) to increase their flexibility right there on the spot.
We do 5-6 rounds and the end range is no longer 90 degrees, but 120-140.
I then ask them to hold their legs at 90 degrees again.
Guess what happens?
All of them are able to comfortably hold their legs there, no struggle, no weird faces, no clenched teeth, no spasms. Did their leg become lighter? Did a student become stronger? No, it is because with increased flexibility, nothing is pulling down!So now you see, why I would choose flexibility over strength every time if I am trying to get my leg up!
High Leg Extensions Solution
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“Overstretching” is a MUST. But how much to overstretch?
How Much to Overstretch: The best performers always stretch further than the skill requires. But you probably know that already.
If not, please see this video. It explains why “overstretching” for the skill is important for skill mastery.
The question everyone asks is “How much do I need to over stretch?” Or “How far do I need to stretch, past the skills requirement?”
Let’s say you need to lift your foot to 5 feet height; Do you need to stretch it to 5’6 or 6’ or 6’6? Or if you want to measure it degrees. Should it be 10 degrees past target skills, 20 degrees? 30 degrees?
In the past, I have set up experiments to try to figure this out. I wanted to know exactly how much one needs to overstretch.
The data was not uniform. For example, one martial artist needed 23 degree overstretch to hold the front kick at his own waist level. Another one needed just 12 and another one almost 40.
The same thing happened with athletes from dance and other disciplines. And what’s interesting is that the numbers did not remain the same for each person. They changed during each workout.
Here are some of the guidelines that were constant:
1. More pliable people needed less overstretch. Please see this video for an explanation of pliability.
2. Those who took care to have proper nutrient intakes such as K and Mg, and were properly hydrated needed less overstretch. 3. Those who have trained and developed short-range conditioning needed less overstretch. (This means strength of the muscles that lift the leg)
How Much to Overstretch
Regardless of discipline or skill in question, one fact remains the same: The more flexible you are, the stronger, faster, easier and more graceful your performance will be. Aim to develop more flexibility than the skill visually requires.
Please select your specific programs for your flexibility needs.
The principle that makes us very tight can also make us very flexible. All we must do is reverse it.
Our Natural Range
To understand this principle I have to ask you to imagine an alternative universe.
Imagine that everything we use is attached to the ceiling. Our computers, books, food, everything is high up by the ceiling. Our natural range of motion in the shoulders is when arms are vertical, and directly overhead. We do everything up there. The shoulders and other muscles that are responsible for overhead movement are very tight from constant use.
If we try to bring the arms down from over head position, they only come down to parallel line, and after long stretching. In other words, you arms are at your shoulder level only after intense stretching session.
So how come our arms our shoulder joints allow us to be freely overhead, in this imaginary scenario?
The answer is simple, we function there. We have control there, we have strength there.
So, if our goal (in our present universe) is to have the arms completely vertical, we need to do stuff in this range. We can’t simply stretch and then leave it. It does not work that way.
Does This Apply to All the Joints?
We talked about the shoulder position so far. However the same concept applies to every joint and every muscle.
There is only one condition. Before you can move or develop strength in the range you want to be in, you need to “Get” into that range first. This is where stretching comes in.
Stretching is NOT Enough
The main point of this article is to understand that the two concepts work together. You can’t develop strength and control in the area, unless you can get into that area first. And if you simply do the stretches and don’t use that range, you won’t keep it.
The later concept is exemplified by people who stretch consistently. These people get a little more flexible after the warm up. However, they can’t retain that flexibility and keep starting in the same place each time. It also does not matter how flexible you get after the warm up.
Also Make Us Flexible
ZST Back In The Day
When I used ZST only, I was able to get people to become more flexible after the warm up than they were every before. A straddle (side split) would go from 90 to 150, instead of 90 to 120 for example, as it would with regular stretches. But at the start of the next session, again back to 90.
Flexibility Retention Techniques Discovered
What made a difference in flexibility retention was using strength and movement exercises to secure the ranges. When armed with these techniques, then clear and exact measured progress began to occur.
Even few degrees per training session, is still progress. Now the next session would start at 92 and end with 152 or 94 and end with 154 or more, depending on the student.
Also Make Us Flexible
When Are You Going to Reach Your Goal?
The great part of this was the fact that I could now answer a simple question, that I could not answer before. A question that no teacher could answer before. “When am I going to reach my goal?”
Today this question can be answered. The easiest way to approximate the date when you will reach your target goal is with free app called Stretch180
Feel the difference between Zaichik StretchingMethod and standard stretches
Get your EasyFlexibility Training Certification and gain access to a full and detailed Kinesiological explanation for every muscle in the human body. All of our Zaichik Stretching techniques are specific to individual muscles, focusing on their primary actions.
This seminar is applicable to any sport or physical activity with lessons arranged along the basic positions commonly used to group muscle actions, thus the lessons are divided into exercises to improve:
Overhead arm movement (shoulder flexion).
Shoulder and wrist extension.
Plus a lesson on methodology, the science of Zaichik Stretching, and possible variations and modalities to each exercise.
What we are offering to you is a proper method:
A map that will guide you step by step till you reach your goal.
It will give you the necessary preparation so that you don’t get injured.
It will adjust to your own particular needs the moment you start training and on the way when you “hit a plateau”, and when you are almost there to give you that extra thrust.
It will tell you what to do so you keep the progress you obtain in a training session.
It will develop your flexibility and strength at the same time so the new flexibility range you acquire will be functional and applicable to leg lifts, kicks, jumping splits sort of techniques, dance, gymnastics, yoga, cheerleading, martial arts techniques and so on.
It will guarantee that you reach your goal safely in a timely manner.
Before flexibility: One of the questions that come up often is: Should one master full flexibility prior to practicing a skill.
The downside of working on flexibility first is that fun is far away. For example let’s take a Side Tilt in ballet or Side Kick in Martial Arts. It may take you a while to develop full range of motion for those techniques.
Does that mean you should not practice them? After all you jointed a ballet class or MA class to dance and kick. So you want that fun. You don’t want just stretching, do you?
That’s how I approach some of my skills and athletes’ skills. However, if you are a student paying to learn Ballet, Karate or TKD, would you not run out of a school that makes you stretch and perhaps condition before showing you a single step, or kick?
The compromise is to do the skills at lower level. Low kicks for example. Or partial plies or partial horse stance, etc.
The only exception I would make is for a skill where specific flexibility is a must and there is no way around it. For example a handstand. If you don’t have full range of motion in your shoulders and your wrists you should not do a handstand.
You can work on inversions, core strength, and other things, but not the actual skill. A plie can be higher for a beginner, a front stance can be higher too. But a handstand with poor shoulder and wrist flexibility, becomes totally something else.
If you are not sure if the skill requires flexibility first or can be practiced at beginner level, please send us an email to email@example.com to advice you.