Q & A: Sang H. Kim on Balancing Speed and Flexibility

Reader Question:

Hi my name is Richard Nieves. I love martial arts. I'm having difficulty with flexibility and speed. I'm 29 years old and I have heavy legs, strong but heavy. I'm 5ft 9 and my weight is 215lbs. I'm wondering, do you think I can reach to do a split at some point?

Kamsa- hamnida, Sabunim,

Richard Nieves


Answer from Sang H. Kim, author of Ultimate Flexibility:

Dear Richard,

First of all, you need to strengthen the major muscle groups of the lower body. If your legs are heavy and you are not very flexible, there is some danger of a muscle or ligament injury if you push yourself too hard at first.

By concentrating on strengthening your torso and legs, you will have the necessary support structure to make your kicks more flexible. Rather than concentrating on doing a split, why not concentrate on improving the flexibility of your kicks. Since you are very strong, flexibility will only add to your power. Here are some suggestions:

1) Daily sit ups (3 sets of 15 to 20 sit ups)

2) Standing knee pitch (demonstrated in the video below)  (3 sets of 30 times daily)

 

3) Lie back on the floor and raise your legs up, hold for 60 seconds (3 sets of 1 minute leg raises)

 Exercise #4: Split your legs while lying on your back

Exercise #4: Split your legs while lying on your back

4) From #3, split your legs slowly as far as you can (3 sets of 30 seconds)

5) Sit and bring one foot to the center of your body near your hips on the floor and stretch the other leg out. Reach for your extended foot as you bend your upper body toward the floor from the waist.

6) When you are fully warmed up, after training, gently sit and work on your stretching.

 Exercise #5: Reach for your extended foot with the goal of touching your chest to your knee.

Exercise #5: Reach for your extended foot with the goal of touching your chest to your knee.

7) Every week re-evaluate your progress and goals using your training notes and your observations.

Try this for a month. Keep the track of your progress and frustration. Don't be afraid of the second. It is a part of making progress - mentally and physically.

Remember to drink lots of water every day and breathe deeply when you stretch.

I wish you the very best luck and patience!

Sincerely,

Sang H. Kim