Splits at 60: Questions and Answers


Think, if a method works for an old man, then for someone younger it will work double-quick . . . or much better.

Would you like to know what to expect of your flexibility as you get near 60? Perhaps my experience will give you an idea, so here it is:

Now, that I am way past 59, my flexibility training has changed. It is harder to stay flexible and to do quick, no-warm-up splits than when I was 50. Instead of doing two sets of isometric stretches (each set three hard tensions) twice per week at the end of my 30-minute weightlifting workout, now I often (but not always) need to do three such sets, plus on other days I need to do a few reps of my style of Cossack squats and lunges (the same ones I show between the 7th and 9th minutes of the section “Cool-Down” on Flexibility Express DVD).

Now I will share my answers to questions on flexibility from martial artists in their 50s and 60s. Keep in mind that as people get older, their “tolerance for nonsense” diminishes, and only the best methods deliver desired results. Then think, if a method works for an old man, then for someone younger it will work double-quick . . . or much better.

Question 1:

I know you can’t give specific advice as to what I should do, but I was wondering if you think I am doing too much for my age (I just turned 60). I train in ITF taekwondo three times a week, and I try to do my workouts another three times a week, if I have the energy. I am a red belt training for black, and I have trained for about 4 1/2 years.

Here is my flexibility workout:

I warm up with core exercises, then joint rolls and easy dynamic kicks.

Then I do the exercises in your video (the warm-up exercise with a dumbbell, squats against the wall with a kettlebell, five-step kettlebell deep squats — I cannot fully achieve the seven-step version — and then isometric exercises shown on the video trying to extend the deep squat). I am careful to tilt my hips and to flex my knees when I do the isometrics.

I also combine the above with these exercises: weighted adductor flys (7.5 pounds per leg), hip flexor flys (weighted leg lift while flat on back with each leg), weighted leg flys, lunges, and Belgian lunges.

I do not do a lot of sets, but I try to run through the workout with rest in between. The workout usually takes about one hour twenty minutes.

I end with some relaxed stretches.

Is this too much? Is it the wrong order? Should I separate the weighted deep squat work from the isometric work and do them on different days?

I am converted totally to your methods, and I suffer from the fact that the taekwondo instructors use the old stretching methods in class.

Answer 1:

I understand you want to obtain a range of motion allowing splits. If so, then first see if you can pass the tests of flexibility potential for those splits. The simplest test for the side split (the test of outside rotation of the thigh) is shown in the book Stretching Scientifically and on the DVD Flexibility Express. Other tests are shown in articles at www.stadion.com/flexibility-training-for-sports-and-martial-arts.

The order in which you do your exercises looks OK. The deep squat work should fit very well with the isometric leg stretches, so I don’t advise doing separate workouts for the squats and the stretches. (Of course, in a workout the squats should precede the stretches.)

As for doing too much or too little:

You are doing too little if during your strength and flexibility workout your muscles don’t feel hot and pliable.

You are doing too much if you are often sore, from one to three days after the workout. For more info on exercise prescriptions, see “Rules of Thumb for Conditioning” and “How to Prevent Insufficient Recovery in High-Intensity Training.”

Question 2:

I am now close to my 55th birthday and less than 10 cm from the side split with your method. I am still experimenting with a proper balance of the load and rest time to be not as stiff the day after stretching. It’s a really nice coincidence that I also do Cossack squats and lunges on the other days. I do them with a weighted vest of 10 kg (my weight is 62 kg). Just two series per leg is enough for me. I think your method is the best and fastest, especially for high kicks without warm-up, because it develops flexibility and strength at the same time.

Answer 2:

Try the Cossack squats without any weights, but keep your chest up (no hunching), and stick in the low positions for at least 15 seconds. See if this gets your splits lower.

I make this suggestion because good posture of the upper body helps increase range of motion in the hips (actually, in all joints). Not wearing the weighted vest may help you maintain good posture as you reach your current maximal range of motion in the hips and stay in that range for 15 seconds or longer, thereby helping you increase it.

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

Stretching Scientifically

The Unbreakable® Umbrella — A peculiar mix of genteel elegance and chilling weaponry...

7 Responses to “Splits at 60: Questions and Answers”

  1. 1 Michael

    Very interesting subject Mr. Kurz.

    When you say you do two 30 min. weightlifting workouts in a week does that include warmup, main part and cooldown? Or 30min. pure lifting?

    I do have the DVD FLEXIBILITY EXPRESS, but I would really be interested to see all your weekly workouts in detail ( Exercises, sets and reps ). Because I am 34, I train longer and can not do what you can!!! But I feel like it is very true what you said: As people get older, their “tolerance for nonsense” diminishes.
    Could you post your workouts or email it to me?
    Will you hold seminars in 2016?

    Thank you very much.

  2. I warm up for 5 minutes, beginning with postural exercises and ending with either a few “empty” lifts or fit-ins for judo throws (uchi-komi), which I may do with a dummy or with bungee cords. Then 25 minutes of squats and deadlifts, each in 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps, often with a few fit-ins in between sets. After lifting weights I usually spend under 5 minutes on isometric stretches for splits and bridges.

    Pull-ups and push-ups I do separately from the above workout–either a few hours later or the next day.

    So this is what I do, because it is right for me. Selecting exercises, reps, and sets, I follow my own advice: “Do only those exercises that give you most benefit in the least workout time” (see “So Many Exercises, So Little Time”). Follow this advice and you too will trim nonsense from your workout.

    No plans for seminars so far.

  3. 3 Michael

    Do you still squat a weight close to your bodyweight and deadlift twice your bodyweight like before? If yes, how often in a week or month?

    Do you go running or do other cardio?

    Thank you very much.

  4. Do you still squat a weight close to your bodyweight and deadlift twice your bodyweight like before? If yes, how often in a week or month?”

    Yes, twice a week. But this has little relevance for you. You should select your exercises, resistance, reps, sets, and frequency of workouts according to rules in articles mentioned in the post, i.e., “Rules of Thumb for Conditioning” and “How to Prevent Insufficient Recovery in High-Intensity Training.”

    Do you go running or do other cardio?”


  5. 5 ISHAAH

    Thanks for showing the easiest and the quickest way to increase both flexibility and strength of the inner thigh muscles. As you wrote in Kinds of Flexibility and the Right Role of Splits in Taekwondo, Karate, and Kickboxing:
    “These are the muscles of the supporting leg that are stressed when you do high kicks. During a kick the kicking leg displays only dynamic flexibility but the stretch on the supporting leg is more like a static stretch, albeit short. The inner thigh of the supporting leg tenses while being stretched by the momentum of your whole body moving toward a target. To strengthen the muscles of the inner thigh you can either tense them in a wide straddle stance and eventually in a side split.”

  6. 6 jk

    does that hottie still ride your leg for you?

  1. 1 Flexibility Express By Thomas Kurz - Boykie's Personal Blog

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