Fitness Routine Training: Flexibility Elements!

If you are interested in this division but are unsure of the requirements, read on to learn how you can develop a winning fitness routine by learning stretches to help improve your moves in all national-level NPC and IFBB shows.
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Flexibility is one of the four components of physical fitness, and is also a major component in a fitness routine. In the NPC, flexibility elements account for 33% of a competitor's score in the two-minute routine round. In national-level NPC and in all IFBB fitness events, there are three mandatory flexibility movements that must be mastered for a competitor to place well. They are full split side, full split front, and high kicks.

Regardless of which federation you choose to compete with, these three movements are some of the best ways a competitor can display her flexibility, and should be incorporated into any competitor's routine.

The key to mastering flexibility moves is in frequency. One cannot expect to stretch one to two times per week and master these moves. Stretching at least 5 days a week for no less than 30 minutes is what is required to perform these skills well, and display ease and perfection during execution.


Splits

Before practicing your splits, warm-up with 5-10 minutes of cardiovascular activity, and perform static stretches for the hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, quadriceps, hips/glutes, and inner-thigh/groin muscles for at least 10 minutes. Practice splits at least 5 times a week for 30-60 minutes, for fastest results.

Hold the split as long as you can, for 1-3 minutes, rest and repeat, aiming for a deeper split each time. Practice both right and left leg splits to display versatility and balance of flexibility during your routine.


Full Split Side

The full split side involves flexibility of the forward leg's hamstring and calf, and in the rear leg's hip flexor and quadriceps muscles. Core strength is also required to maintain balance and a poised position during the split.

  • Both legs should be completely straight with pointed toes.
  • There should be no space between your body and the ground to receive full credit for the move.
  • Back leg should be completely facing the floor - including the foot - and knee locked out.
  • Abs should be kept in tight, chest and shoulders up and back, maintaining good posture during the split.
  • Hand placement may vary. Some options include hands on hips, hands over head, or one hand on the ground for balance and one hand overhead.
  • Face the crowd and SMILE! Make the move look effortless and flawless.

There are a variety of stretches a competitor can practice in order to improve upon this split. Here are several you may wish to try:

Stetches To Improve Your 'Full Split Side':

    Hamstring Stretch Seated (Hamstrings, Calves, Low Back) - View

    Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch (Hip Flexors, Quadriceps) - View

    Kneeling Hamstring Stretch (Hamstrings, Calves) - View


Full Split Front

The full split front displays flexibility of the hamstrings, calves, hips, and inner-thigh/groin area. Core strength is also required to maintain balance and a poised position during the split.

  • Both legs should be kept completely straight with pointed toes.
  • There should be no space between your body and the ground to receive full credit for the move.
  • Abs should be kept in tight, chest and shoulders up and back, maintaining good posture during the split.
  • Hand placement may vary. Some options include hands on hips, hands over head, or one hand on the ground for balance and one hand overhead.
  • Face the crowd and SMILE! Make the move look effortless and flawless.

There are a variety of stretches a competitor can practice in order to improve upon this split. Here are several you may wish to try:

Stetches To Improve Your 'Full Split Front':

    Bent-Knee Groin Stretch (Inner Thigh, Groin)
    This stretch is simply the straight-knee groin stretch with one leg bent in towards the body.

    Straight-Knee Groin Stretch (Inner Thigh, Groin, Hips) - View

    Hamstring Stretch Seated (Hamstrings, Calves, Low Back) - View

    Lying Buttocks Stretch (Hips/Glutes)
    Lie on floor or with bent knees and feet flat on floor. Cross lower leg over thigh of other leg. Hold behind thigh of lower leg with both hands. Pull leg toward chest.

    Wall Groin Stretch (Inner Thigh, Groin, Hips)
    This stretch is simply the straight-knee groin stretch with a modification of the feet pressed against the wall. This is a form of resistance that allows for a deeper stretch.


High Kicks

The high kick displays flexibility of the hamstrings, calves, and low back, while also showing power and strength of the hip flexors and core muscles.

  • Placement of kick should be in front of the body, in line with the shoulder and slightly outside of the hip joint. This position allows for maximum height during kick execution.

  • At the height of the kick, legs should be kept completely straight with locked knees and pointed toes. Leg remaining on the ground should be kept as straight as possible, although a slight bend in the knee is very likely.

  • Upper body should be tensed and remain mobile throughout kicks. Do NOT throw your body into the kick. Instead, bring your leg up to your body.

  • Height of kicks should be at least above the head.

  • Execution should be quick and powerful, snapping the legs up and down in a swift, clean motion.

  • Arms should remain at sides or on hips, but should not be forward as though reaching out for the legs.

  • Body should remain as much as possible in one place. Do not bounce all around the stage.

  • Keep your head and body upright, smile, and make kicks look effortless.

  • Perform at least two kicks on each leg, either alternated or two left then two right, to show versatility and to get full credit for the movement.

Practice your kicks with the same frequency as you practice splits as part of your overall flexibility training - at least 5 times a week for 30-60 minutes. It's a good idea to practice your kicks after you practice splits, since your legs are already warmed up and stretched. Perform 10-20 kicks on each leg at a time, aiming for clean execution, quickness, and mobility of the body. Rest 1-2 minutes and repeat cycle for a total of 3-5 times. In addition, you may wear ankle weights when practicing kicks to increase your strength, quickness, and power.

Remember when executing all of these moves in a routine to only perform skills that you have mastered completely. Judges would rather see less difficult moves that are perfectly executed than difficult moves that are performed poorly. To ensure you can master the moves in time for your competition, start practicing them 6-12 months before you begin learning your choreographed routine.

Always smile when executing these skills - they should appear flawless, completely effortless, and natural to the competitor, not rigid and awkward. This can be achieved through patience, diligent practice, and flexibility of the entire body. Once you have mastered all three basic skills, be creative and employ fun and skillful transitions between the elements.

Pic Taken With Permission From: NPCNewsOnline.com.

Good Luck!

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