Cossack Squat – Strength, Mobility and Flexibility all in one – PART 2

Flexible Steel Friends – I would like to introduce the 2nd in a 3 part series on the Cossack Squat. This is more than a few quick tips, rather it is an intensive and impressive premier on this very beneficial move designed to make you both Strong and Flexible at the same time. The author is Piort Kowalik, Flexible Steel Instructor Specialist (FSIS) from Poland. Follow Piort’s advice and you too will become like Flexible Steel!If you missed Part 1 go here first http://flexiblesteel.com/blog/2017/07/13/cossack-squat-part-1/

Jon Engum

COSSACK SQUAT –

PART 2 More Troubleshooting Tips

Common Problems and Solutions:

Torso is not vertical.

As long as we train the Cossack squat without any weights, there’s no problem with having a rounded back. In martial arts training I teach the position to beginners where they have their hands resting comfortably on the floor. We need this because in order for the  leg sweep to the back we need the MA Cossack squat position. During this attack hands touch the floor. However, martial arts follow their own specific rules and it does not mean that martial artists should not learn other versions.

Each position or movement pattern should be taught correctly first, and then loaded as part of the training. But if we want to load the Cossack squat we need to be sure that our back is safe. That is why the correct version, just like the normal squat, requires vertical or near vertical back so that the center of gravity is more less in the middle of the foot. Before you load the Cossack squat you need to be capable of reaching and maintaining vertical torso without any additional weight. Learn this position and train it correctly from the beginning.

If any problems occur, try this:

KETTLEBELL GOBLET SQUAT

The bell held during the squat will give you the correct feeling of maintaining Kettle bell goblet squatvertical body. Retracted and packed shoulders and an open proud chest in the squat will transfer directly onto the Cossack squat. Learn how to keep stable core and back in this exercise before you move on to the Cossack squat. Every Flexible Steel instructor will teach you how to perform this awesome squat variant correctly. You can find this exercise in the “Untying the Four Knots” program by Jon Engum – for the instructions on how to do the Goblet Squat go to http://flexiblesteel.com/blog/2016/12/27/four-week-program-to-flexible-steel/

PARTNER COSSACK or hold on tight

You can find a very detailed description of this version in the Certified Flexible Steel Instructor’s manual. Find an instructor or join us. To put things simply – grab a partner and sit comfortably in the correct position to teach the nervous system the correct position and to “stretch” everything our body is lacking and to keep the vertical alignment.

Trust your partner. They’re there to allow you to “lean back” to achieve the vertical position. Remember that buttocks should be close to the heel/floor. Performing a partner cossack I’ve seen many people who, even when they were being held by their hand, pushed their butt back trying to get the hip hinge pattern. But what you’re looking for is the squat pattern. Lack of trust also means locked body, which resists its owner. Such body will not yield satisfying results. You should relax and trust your partner. This drill really works, for poor ankle mobility as well – just relax and let your own weight work the joint.

A couple of hints: The arm on the bent knee side should be free. Use it to push your knee out and open the hips. Instead of a partner you can use TRX or even the door (grab the handle) – BE CREATIVE.

COSSACK GOBLET HOLD – mix kettlebell squat with the Cossack when you don’t have a partner around.

Grab the bell like in the Goblet Squat, but instead go down to the Cossack squat position. When you feel you’re falling back push the weight away from your body. BE CAREFUL – holding the weight tightly to your chest can easily make you lean forward and you want to avoid that. Elbows supported on your ribcage will help you hold the bell without the arms getting to tired. Think about keeping your back straight, staying vertical, holding a proud chest and pushing your knees out – it has to be perfect!

WALL COSSACK – facing the wall

Our body is looking for a way out and it usually finds one. The problem is that our body prioritizes ways to save energy over ways to spend it. It’s lazy, and you’re trying to kill it. Play a trick on your body and place it as close as possible to a wall. Now go down to a Cossack squat. There’s no room to lean forward and an empty space behind you. You have to hold on. This position reveals all weak spots in mobility. The brain will simply end the downward motion once our limitations come in to play. At least now you can see all those weak spots – Work on your mobility especially since now you know what the problem is.

The knee of the bent leg caves in.

This mistake will haunt people who also have problems squatting. Of course the problem may also result from incorrect squat pattern and in this case contacting a FS instructor wouldn’t hurt. However, in most cases problems with squats and Cossack squats are a result of short range of motion in the hips. It may result in the knees caving in, which makes working on squats and Cossack squat more difficult and dangerous. Loading such pattern is not advised. Before we add weight we need to improve the movement. I propose

PRYING GOBLET SQUAT

The way to improve vertical position described above should become one of your favorite exercises, but if you put your elbows on the inside of your knees and let the bell spread its weight equally between your legs prying the knees out, you get a great way to work on opening your hips. In the lowest point of the squat add slow but strong rotations with your entire body to the right and the left also make figure 8s with your knees.

TACTICAL FROG – basic version

I know of no better way to open the hips in the deep squat and the Cossack. It’s one of the most important elements of the “Untying the Four Knots” program by Jon Engum – go to http://flexiblesteel.com/blog/2016/12/27/four-week-program-to-flexible-steel/

BACK COSSACK STRETCH SERIES

A great exercise which has recently been introduced to the Level I Flexible Steel Certification which will help your straddle, mobilize and open your hips and since it looks like a Cossack squat with your back on the ground it is a fantastic way to improve it. Even though you’re lying down, it’s far from relaxing. More flexible people will probably try to load the leg, but even the basic version is quite challenging. Do 5 rounds where 1 round is 10-20 forceful reps where you enter/exit the deep ROM with a one second hold at the lowest point and 10-20 seconds of waiting and pushing into the deepest range of motion. A bonus variation is a full circle with the straight leg – down over the ground then up to the vertical position and again to the side just over the ground deep into the maximal ROM. Remember that at no point the leg should drop below the belt level (except for the circles) and if it does simply pull it up above the belt level. Good news and bad news – don’t forget the other leg, unless you want to walk crooked. 🙂

SPLIT SWITCH

Great movement drill that will get you closed to do the full split. However, without the knowledge of certified FS instructors you are more likely to risk an injury that is why I implore you to find an instructor near you. You can also read the short description of the Three S rule that Jon described on his blog here: http://www.flexiblesteel.com/blog/2017/03/14/grow-the-points-of-your-triangle and avoid any injuries while pursuing the split. But to get a beautiful Cossack squat a much higher version will be just fine. It’s about mobilizing the hips – lift yourself up on your arms placed on e.g. chairs. Imagine that your hips are like headlights in a car that are illuminating the road ahead. Assume high front split position and shine the headlight on the leg in front (rotate the body and the back leg). Now without moving your legs rotate completely to the back leg shining the headlight straight to the foot. Each time support yourself on your arms for safety. This exercise resembles another one dubbed “the Egyptian.” However the Egyptian is an exercise for shoulder mobility not the hips, right? Yep, that is why this is called the Split Switch.

DOWEL PARTY or playing with a stick

When I was doing this exercise for the first time it instantly reminded me of a party game you play with your friends at house parties. You definitely know which, the one where you have to walk below a bar or a stick placed at a certain height. Facing it upfront you have to walk below arching like Neo in the Matrix. Each successful pass means the bar is going lower and lower. Of course the version in the game is great and can help us to master the gymnastic bridge or its progression, but the Flexible Steel exercise, which you can see in the video below, will help you in the Cossack squat thus improving your squat and few elements of your get up.

Our task here is not about arching back – stand sideways to the stick that is located at your shoulder height to your right. Then slide your right leg to the side under the stick, put your feet with your toes pointed outward and push your knees out, so they point to the same direction as your toes. Use your strength to keep pushing your knees out. Now without moving your fingers back or forth lower yourself and slowly shift your weight to the right below the stick. Go up once you’re on the other side. Easy right? Repeat couple of times, to make sure you’re doing it right. Another step behind you. New one just ahead. And then another one. I prefer to start from an easy height and in 3-4 rounds lower the stick to the middle of my arm, then my elbow until I reach my hip. Of course the lower it is the harder it gets. In the lowest variant you’re performing a beautiful Cossack with your feet glued to the ground transferring your bodyweight so low that without proper “greasing” of the hips on the previous levels it’s easy to fail. At this level it’s simple, but far from easy.

(MA Cossack) The outer edge of the foot of the straight leg is not touching the ground.

 Remember when I talked about the Cossack in martial arts – both feet planted on the floor. You should be able to do that! But there’s one catch. The outer edge of the foot of the straight leg is not touching the ground. Some will say that’s unimportant because you should maintain neutral ankle position, but it’s not an excuse for me. If you don’t have sufficiently stretched outside part of your calf, you’ll look for any theory to justify your lack of flexibility. It’s like the idea that mastery in martial arts does not require any leg flexibility – hands hit the head and legs kick below the stomach. This is kind of a stretch for me. If you want to be better in whatever you do, work on your weak points until they become your strengths.

KUNG FU STANCE

My students, whom I teach Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu, can do a pretty decent Cossack squat in a very short time from their first training. But we never stay there for more than just a few reps during warm up while doing basic mobility and flexibility block of our training. So where did this result came from. Positions used in Kung Fu. We have the two most basic positions – Sei Ping Ma (Horse Stance) and Den Jing Ma (Bow Stance). Both require strong and stable legs as well as hips that can open fully.

Kung fu stance bowingKung fu horse stance

On these pictures we can see how they look. Please disregard the hand position, we’re not praying here. Bow stance is a rotation of the entire torso either left or right while extending the back leg and pushing the heel on that leg back. The foot is glued to the floor and this actually translates wonderfully onto the MA Cossack squat. Perform several transfers from the Horse stance to the Bow stance in both directions. Make sure that your thighs are lateral to the floor and that while rotating to another position you’re pressing the outside edge of the foot into the ground like you should in the MA Cossack squat. You can also stand by the wall and push yourself away from it as you press on your heel into the ground in time elongating the position and thus changing the angle and making it more difficult. You have to experiment and see what works best. Approach this exercise with caution and you’ll see interesting results in a very short time.

SIDE CALF STRETCH

I really like this simple exercise. Sit on the floor with your arms behind you. Slightly lift your right leg and grab it with your left hand. with your left hand. Remember one thing – you want to grab the foot holding it from the planter side to the outside of the foot. The hand is holding the foot closer to the toes rather than the heel. Now slowly start extending your leg by delicately rotating the edge of the foot in dorsiflexion forward. Stay in this position for a few moments.

BENT LEG ELEVATED or MA Cossack with bent leg elevatedThis task is similar to the HEEL UP exercise described above. The difference is that the entire foot is elevated and you should press it down into the floor like in the MA Cossack. Give your body time to find the right position, work on the MA Cossack with slight elevation allowing you to do it as correctly as possible. With time lower the elevation. This method also allows you to easily track your progress.

The height of the position is wrong – hips are higher than the knee on the bent leg side.

If you remember Cossack squat is a squat where one leg is extended to the side and the toes are pointed up. If this is the case the standard for me is for the hip to be at or below parallel. Until we are able to go lower there’s no point in talking about correct or full Cossack squat. Work on a deep squat and the deep Cossack squat will just be a matter of time. I recommend you do the following:

PINK PANTHER THE KNEE or how to get your knee higher

During the instructor certification Jon Engum teaches this technique in the context of high kick for fighters. I started to apply this technique to achieve better, deeper and more relaxed squats. It can work wonders. I’ll quote the Flexible Steel Instructor’s manual.

“Stand with your back against a wall for balance. Lift your knee as high as you can and have your partner hold it there (.) Now your partner will place his right hand on top of your right knee and give you some downward resistance. As you try to lift your knee, without warning your partner removes the resistance and follows your knee up with the supporting left arm. Repeat until you can no longer make upward progress.”

This drill is not easy and requires skilled training or help from an FS instructor. I definitely recommend participating in the course.

Pink Panther knee drill

LOADED COSSACK – load the Cossack with a kettlebell

My hierarchy of methods for building flexibility looks as follows: relaxed stretching, power stretching (isometric tension-relaxation), loaded stretching. There’s no point in loading the split or the Cossack squat if there’s still a lot of elements requiring improvement, and definitely not if it’s not deep and far from perfect form. A person with such problems should work more on basic flexibility before moving to this version. But if you’re just an inch away from perfect and just holding the position won’t do much for you – grab a kettlebell. Why a kettlebell? Because it offers a couple interesting choices for holding it. You can grab it like in a goblet squat; you can hold one or two in the rack position like in the KB front squat. Flexible Steel is a system created by Master Instructor of StrongFirst strength training system – and it includes kettlebells, barbells and bodyweight training. So now you know why you should grab a kettlebell?

To be continued:  Check back next week for Part 3 of this 3 part series! How to program the Cossack.

PIOTR KOWALIK

The founder and manager of the Sports Centre and School of Martial Arts “IRBIS” in Krakow. The coach and trainer of gold medallists in the Polish Wushu Championships.

The instructor of StrongFirst SFG1 and Flexible Steel Instructor Specialist, who can share his expertise with passion during training sessions in the Kettlebell Centre Krakow and during all the other trainings in Krakow and all around Poland.

Apart from teaching how to build strength and flexibility based on such tools as kettlebells, he teaches Chinese Martial Arts – Kung Fu that he has been practising since a child.

He started the training of Chinese martial arts in 1991. For years he has been one of the most title-winning Kung Fu (Wushu) competitors in Poland. He teaches both traditional and sports varieties. He holds the title of the World Champion won at the World Championships in 2004 in Chile and in 2006 in China.

He was awarded with the Prize of the Minister of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Poland for winning gold and silver medals at the World Traditional Wushu Competitions in China in 2010. He was awarded with a prestigious title of the “Best Competitor of 2006” by the American Federation of Chinese Kuoshu in Baltimore, USA.

4 Weeks to Flexible Steel Challenge

2017 is the time to set your goal to move better, with more energy and ease of movement. Take back control of your mobility AND get a chance to win $500!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Go to http://flexiblesteel.com/blog/2016/12/27/four-week-program-to-flexible-steel/ and read The 4 Weeks to Flexible Steel Challenge, easy to use, step by step training plan.
  1. Post a video of yourself doing part of the training on the Flexible Steel International Facebook timeline.
  1. Make sure to hashtag #flexiblesteel in the post. You can post a new video daily for more chances to win. The more you post the better your chances of winning!

Be sure to share and nominate a different friend daily to join you in this exciting challenge.

Every time you post a video of yourself doing a part of the training and hashtag #flexiblesteel you are entered into a drawing for $500 cash.

The 8 week challenge starts Jan 1st, 2017. Weekly prizes will be given away with the grand prize of $500 to be randomly drawn on March 1st, 2017.

If you have not already done so, please like the Flexible Steel International Facebook page and visit the website at http://www.flexiblesteel.com and challenge your friends!

No BS just FS (Flexible Steel) and a new flexy you with our FREE 4 Weeks to Flex-Appeal Challenge.

2017 is the year to achieve greatness! We challenge you to become Flexible Steel!

CONTEST RULES
NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.
The “4 weeks to Flexible Steel Challenge Contest” is sponsored FlexibleSteel.com (“Sponsor”). This contest is governed by these official rules (“Official Rules”). By participating in the contest, each entrant agrees to abide by these Official Rules, including all eligibility requirements, and understands that the results of the contest, as determined by Sponsor and its agents, are final in all respects. The contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations and is void where prohibited by law.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the promotion will be directed to Sponsor, not Facebook.

ELIGIBILITY
The Contest is open to legal residents of their respective countries where not prohibited by law, who are eighteen (18) years of age or older at the time of entry who have Internet access and a valid e-mail account prior to the beginning of the Contest Period. Sponsor has the right to verify the eligibility of each entrant.

SWEEPSTAKES PERIOD
The Sweepstakes begins at January 1, 2017 12:01 AM CST and ends at March 1, 2017, 12:01 AM CST. (“Sweepstakes Period”). All entries (submissions) must be received on or before the time stated during that submission period. Sponsor reserves the right to extend or shorten the contest at their sole discretion.

HOW TO ENTER
Post a short video of yourself doing part of the challenge on the FlexibleSteel Facebook Page Timeline. Make sure to include the hashtag “FlexibleSteel” in the post. You can post a new video for another chance to win. The more you post the more you improve your odds.

WINNER SELECTION
All eligible entries received during the Submission Period will gathered into a database at the end of the Submission Period. A winner will be chosen at random.

Weekly winners will be announced weekly. The grand prize winner will be announced on or about March 1, 2017 on or about noon CST. Announcement and instructions for prize will be sent to the e-mail address supplied on the potential prize winner’s entry form. Each entrant is responsible for monitoring his/her e-mail account for prize notification and receipt or other communications related to this sweepstakes. If a potential prize winner cannot be reached by Administrator (or Sponsor) within fifteen (15) days, using the contact information provided at the time of entry, or if the prize is returned as undeliverable, that potential prize winner shall forfeit the prize. Upon the request of the Sponsor, the potential winner may be required to return an Affidavit of Eligibility, Release and Prize Acceptance Form and IRS W-9 form. If a potential winner fails to comply with these official rules, that potential winner will be disqualified. Prizes may not be awarded if an insufficient number of eligible entries are received.

PRIZES:
Grand Prize: $500 USD
. Weekly prize: Flexible Steel book. Maximum value is $30.
Terms and conditions may apply. Incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses which are not specifically listed as part of a prize in these Official Rules and which may be associated with the award, acceptance, receipt and use of all or any portion of the awarded prize are solely the responsibility of the respective prize winner. ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL TAXES ASSOCIATED WITH THE RECEIPT OR USE OF ANY PRIZE IS SOLELY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WINNER.

ADDITIONAL LIMITATIONS
Prize is non-transferable. No substitution or cash equivalent of prizes is permitted. Sponsor and its respective parent, affiliate and subsidiary companies, agents, and representatives are not responsible for any typographical or other errors in the offer or administration of the Sweepstakes, including, but not limited to, errors in any printing or posting or these Official Rules, the selection and announcement of any winner, or the distribution of any prize. Any attempt to damage the content or operation of this Sweepstakes is unlawful and subject to possible legal action by Sponsor. Sponsor reserves the right to terminate, suspend or amend the Sweepstakes, without notice, and for any reason, including, without limitation, if Sponsor determines that the Sweepstakes cannot be conducted as planned or should a virus, bug, tampering or unauthorized intervention, technical failure or other cause beyond Sponsor’s control corrupt the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any tampering or unauthorized intervention may have occurred, Sponsor reserves the right to void suspect entries at issue. Sponsor and its respective parent, affiliate and subsidiary companies, agents, and representatives, and any telephone network or service providers, are not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate transcription of entry information, or for any human error, technical malfunction, lost or delayed data transmission, omission, interruption, deletion, line failure or malfunction of any telephone network, computer equipment or software, the inability to access any website or online service or any other error, human or otherwise.

INDEMNIFICATION AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
BY ENTERING THE SWEEPSTAKES, EACH ENTRANT AGREES TO INDEMNIFY, RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS SPONSOR AND ITS PARENT, AFFILIATE AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES, THE FACEBOOK PLATFORM, ADMINISTRATOR, ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONAL AGENCIES, AND ALL THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND AGENTS FROM ANY LIABILITY, DAMAGES, LOSSES OR INJURY RESULTING IN WHOLE OR IN PART, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, FROM THAT ENTRANT’S PARTICIPATION IN THE SWEEPSTAKES AND THE ACCEPTANCE, USE OR MISUSE OF ANY PRIZE THAT MAY BE WON. SPONSOR AND ITS PARENT, AFFILIATE AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES DO NOT MAKE ANY WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE CONDITION, FITNESS OR MERCHANTABILITY OF THE PRIZE. SPONSOR AND ITS PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONAL AGENCIES, AND ALL THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND AGENTS DISCLAIM ANY LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE TO ANY COMPUTER SYSTEM RESULTING FROM ACCESS TO OR THE DOWNLOAD OF INFORMATION OR MATERIALS CONNECTED WITH THE SWEEPSTAKES.

PUBLICITY
By participating, each entrant grants Sponsor permission to use his/her name, likeness or comments for publicity purposes without payment of additional consideration, except where prohibited by law.

SWEEPSTAKES SPONSORS
This sweepstakes is sponsored by:
FlexibleSteel.com
712 Washington St.
Brainerd, MN 56401
Any questions regarding this Sweepstakes should be directed to Flexible Steel Challenge Contest at info@extremetraining.net.

2017 is the time to set your goal to move better, with more energy and ease of movement. Take back control of your mobility AND get a chance to win $500!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Go to http://www.flexiblesteel.com/?p=2762 and read The 4 Weeks to Flexible Steel Challenge, easy to use, step by step training plan.
  1. Post a video of yourself doing part of the training on the Flexible Steel International Facebook timeline.
  1. Make sure to hashtag #flexiblesteel in the post. You can post a new video daily for more chances to win. The more you post the better your chances of winning!

Be sure to share and nominate a different friend daily to join you in this exciting challenge.

Every time you post a video of yourself doing a part of the training and hashtag #flexiblesteel you are entered into a drawing for $500 cash.

The 8 week challenge starts Jan 1st, 2017. Weekly prizes will be given away with the grand prize of $500 to be randomly drawn on March 1st, 2017.

If you have not already done so, please like the Flexible Steel International Facebook page and visit the website at http://www.flexiblesteel.com and challenge your friends!

No BS just FS (Flexible Steel) and a new flexy you with our FREE 4 Weeks to Flex-Appeal Challenge.

2017 is the year to achieve greatness! We challenge you to become Flexible Steel!

CONTEST RULES
NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.
The “4 weeks to Flexible Steel Challenge Contest” is sponsored FlexibleSteel.com (“Sponsor”). This contest is governed by these official rules (“Official Rules”). By participating in the contest, each entrant agrees to abide by these Official Rules, including all eligibility requirements, and understands that the results of the contest, as determined by Sponsor and its agents, are final in all respects. The contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations and is void where prohibited by law.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the promotion will be directed to Sponsor, not Facebook.

ELIGIBILITY
The Contest is open to legal residents of their respective countries where not prohibited by law, who are eighteen (18) years of age or older at the time of entry who have Internet access and a valid e-mail account prior to the beginning of the Contest Period. Sponsor has the right to verify the eligibility of each entrant.

SWEEPSTAKES PERIOD
The Sweepstakes begins at January 1, 2017 12:01 AM CST and ends at March 1, 2017, 12:01 AM CST. (“Sweepstakes Period”). All entries (submissions) must be received on or before the time stated during that submission period. Sponsor reserves the right to extend or shorten the contest at their sole discretion.

HOW TO ENTER
Post a short video of yourself doing part of the challenge on the FlexibleSteel Facebook Page Timeline. Make sure to include the hashtag “FlexibleSteel” in the post. You can post a new video for another chance to win. The more you post the more you improve your odds.

WINNER SELECTION
All eligible entries received during the Submission Period will gathered into a database at the end of the Submission Period. A winner will be chosen at random.

Weekly winners will be announced weekly. The grand prize winner will be announced on or about March 1, 2017 on or about noon CST. Announcement and instructions for prize will be sent to the e-mail address supplied on the potential prize winner’s entry form. Each entrant is responsible for monitoring his/her e-mail account for prize notification and receipt or other communications related to this sweepstakes. If a potential prize winner cannot be reached by Administrator (or Sponsor) within fifteen (15) days, using the contact information provided at the time of entry, or if the prize is returned as undeliverable, that potential prize winner shall forfeit the prize. Upon the request of the Sponsor, the potential winner may be required to return an Affidavit of Eligibility, Release and Prize Acceptance Form and IRS W-9 form. If a potential winner fails to comply with these official rules, that potential winner will be disqualified. Prizes may not be awarded if an insufficient number of eligible entries are received.

PRIZES:
Grand Prize: $500 USD
. Weekly prize: Flexible Steel book. Maximum value is $30.
Terms and conditions may apply. Incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses which are not specifically listed as part of a prize in these Official Rules and which may be associated with the award, acceptance, receipt and use of all or any portion of the awarded prize are solely the responsibility of the respective prize winner. ALL FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL TAXES ASSOCIATED WITH THE RECEIPT OR USE OF ANY PRIZE IS SOLELY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WINNER.

ADDITIONAL LIMITATIONS
Prize is non-transferable. No substitution or cash equivalent of prizes is permitted. Sponsor and its respective parent, affiliate and subsidiary companies, agents, and representatives are not responsible for any typographical or other errors in the offer or administration of the Sweepstakes, including, but not limited to, errors in any printing or posting or these Official Rules, the selection and announcement of any winner, or the distribution of any prize. Any attempt to damage the content or operation of this Sweepstakes is unlawful and subject to possible legal action by Sponsor. Sponsor reserves the right to terminate, suspend or amend the Sweepstakes, without notice, and for any reason, including, without limitation, if Sponsor determines that the Sweepstakes cannot be conducted as planned or should a virus, bug, tampering or unauthorized intervention, technical failure or other cause beyond Sponsor’s control corrupt the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any tampering or unauthorized intervention may have occurred, Sponsor reserves the right to void suspect entries at issue. Sponsor and its respective parent, affiliate and subsidiary companies, agents, and representatives, and any telephone network or service providers, are not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate transcription of entry information, or for any human error, technical malfunction, lost or delayed data transmission, omission, interruption, deletion, line failure or malfunction of any telephone network, computer equipment or software, the inability to access any website or online service or any other error, human or otherwise.

INDEMNIFICATION AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
BY ENTERING THE SWEEPSTAKES, EACH ENTRANT AGREES TO INDEMNIFY, RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS SPONSOR AND ITS PARENT, AFFILIATE AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES, THE FACEBOOK PLATFORM, ADMINISTRATOR, ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONAL AGENCIES, AND ALL THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND AGENTS FROM ANY LIABILITY, DAMAGES, LOSSES OR INJURY RESULTING IN WHOLE OR IN PART, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, FROM THAT ENTRANT’S PARTICIPATION IN THE SWEEPSTAKES AND THE ACCEPTANCE, USE OR MISUSE OF ANY PRIZE THAT MAY BE WON. SPONSOR AND ITS PARENT, AFFILIATE AND SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES DO NOT MAKE ANY WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE CONDITION, FITNESS OR MERCHANTABILITY OF THE PRIZE. SPONSOR AND ITS PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONAL AGENCIES, AND ALL THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND AGENTS DISCLAIM ANY LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE TO ANY COMPUTER SYSTEM RESULTING FROM ACCESS TO OR THE DOWNLOAD OF INFORMATION OR MATERIALS CONNECTED WITH THE SWEEPSTAKES.

PUBLICITY
By participating, each entrant grants Sponsor permission to use his/her name, likeness or comments for publicity purposes without payment of additional consideration, except where prohibited by law.

SWEEPSTAKES SPONSORS
This sweepstakes is sponsored by:
FlexibleSteel.com
712 Washington St.
Brainerd, MN 56401
Any questions regarding this Sweepstakes should be directed to Flexible Steel Challenge Contest at info@extremetraining.net.

The 4 Weeks to Flexible Steel Program

by Jon Engum

What would more usable range of motion do for your sports performance? Imagine not having to fight your own body. Imagine owning unhindered fluid movement that was at your beck and call.

How much more enjoyable would life be if you could recapture the vibrant mobility of your youth? Understand I am not talking about the weak flexibility of a guy who can tie himself into knots at the expense of his strength and power.Oh, no! I am talking about strong, powerful, usable flexibility that will aid you in your everyday life and sports performance. Interested?

Follow this simple 4 week program and I guarantee you will get amazing results and be well on your way to becoming like Flexible Steel. Give me four weeks (that’s sixteen sessions total) and I will breathe new life into your high mileage body.

First: A Paradigm Shift

The late, great Jack Lalane could easily be considered the godfather of fitness. Jack was way ahead of his time. He did not train clients, he taught students. He did not work out, he practiced. His training sessions were called lessons not workouts.  We can learn much from this seemingly random change in wording. It is in fact not random at all, but craftily chosen to make a very important point. Do not mindlessly chase sets and reps, poundage and times, rather go to the gym, field, track, whatever and try to get better at something. Try to learn a lesson try to improve your technique form. Try to learn something. What happens when we shift our thinking like this is we naturally hit PRs, we keep our mind and body engaged and we keep injuries at bay.  It bears repeating go to a practice or a lesson, not to a workout. Learning keeps one young.

The Lesson:  The Four Knots

My friend and colleague Dr. Mark Cheng calls the hips and shoulders the four knots of the body. While this may be common knowledge in Eastern medicine, it is not so common here in the West. The four knots have several meanings. Let me explain: The shoulders and the hips tie the arms and the legs to your body, this is obvious. But to take the knot analogy further, in order to function properly a knot cannot be too loose – it comes undone and your shoe comes off, or it’s too tight, in which case you cannot untie it and you cannot ever remove your shoe. In order to have a functioning knot you must have a perfect balance of strength and flexibility. You must be like Flexible Steel. Flexible Steel bends, but does not break.

HIPS AND SHOULDERS

For the next four weeks our lesson will be on gaining more flexibility and mobility in the hips, T-spine, and shoulders. Why? Because we will get a very big bang for our buck if we can make even small improvements in these key areas. It had been said “An athlete must move from their hips first.” Gray Cook the founder of the Functional Movement Systems (FMS) calls the hips a BAD neighbor. Meaning if you do not have strong mobile hips your knees or lower back must compensate. Anyone’s knees or lower back hurt?

The four week plan I am posting here is designed to be done in the morning before your normal training. You may still do whatever other exercise or activity is on your schedule, but do this first. Do not consider it a warm-up or a workout but rather a movement lesson or practice.

The Moves

The following descriptions are excerpts from my book Flexible Steel on how to execute these movements:

The Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Dan John, author and strength coach extraordinaire, developed the Kettlebell Goblet Squat. We have found that a month or two of practicing this form of squatting has a dramatic opening effect on the hips and T-spine. It will boost your regular squat performance – no matter if front squats, back squats, or whatever other variation of the squat is your huckleberry.

Grab a kettlebell by the handle, kind of like grabbing onto a steering wheel. Pavel calls this “taking the bell by the horns.” Squat down by sitting back and down between your heels.

Jon Engum Squat

Jon Engum Squat 2

The following goes without saying, but I will say it anyway

  • Make sure your knees line up and stay lined up with your toes. Your knees must point the exact same way your toes do through the whole squat.
  • Keep your heels on the ground and your shins vertical.
  • Keep your back straight; do not allow your tailbone to tuck under at the bottom of the squat.
  • Keep a “big” chest, especially at the bottom.
  • At the bottom, place your elbows to the insides of your knees without losing the alignment of your back.
  • Use your elbows to push the knees out to help open your hips.
  • Your feet must stay firmly fixed to the ground.
  • Make sure when you ascend that your hips and shoulders come up at the same time.
  • Do not lead or “hitch” with your hips.”

Use the goblet squat as an exercise in mobility as well as stability. Hang out in the bottom position for a while. Rock side to side, make some small figure eights, really open the hips, and elongate the spine and try to make space inside your body.

The Kettlebell Good Morning Stretch

One of the easiest and most effective stretches I know for the hamstrings is the Good Morning stretch and its several variations. Here is an extremely effective variant of the classic Good Morning.

Jon Engum Good Morning

Jon Engum Good Morning 2

Quick Tips: Stand completely upright, feet about shoulder width apart.

  • Hold a kettlebell behind your back so that it rests more or less on your tailbone.
  • Puff your chest out,big chest, and let your knees be “soft”. It is not necessary or desirable to have them locked.
  • Moving from your hips, try to push the kettlebell back with your tailbone while keeping your back straight and chest “big.”
  • Do not worry about how far you bend over; this is not a toe touch. Just be concerned about how far back you can move the kettlebell. It is a hip hinge.
  • If you perform this move to the letter, you will feel a very intense stretch in the hamstrings just below your cheeks, not the ones on your face either.

The Lunge Stretch

Jon Engum Preforming a Lunge

How to do the lunge:

  1. Get into a lunge position by kneeling down on your right knee. The instep of your right foot will also be on the ground.
  2. Make sure to align your knee and back foot so they fall on the same line. Your front foot will be on its own line and your left knee will be in the air.
  3. Make sure your left shin, in this case, is vertical and your knee is tracking your front foot.
  4. Do not let your knee get in front of your toes.
  5. Keep your hips square. If you can imagine that you have headlights on the crests of your hips, just make sure they both shine straight ahead.
  6. Now put your hands behind your back and push your hips forward. You should feel a stretch in the area of your front thigh and hip, kind of where your front pocket is.
  7. Push into and back out of the stretch using a rhythmical movement. The tempo should be 1 second forward and 1 second backward.

Quick Tips:

  • Contract the glute of the stretching side to a) protect your back and b) relax the hip flexors through reciprocal inhibition.
  • If and when your knee begins to creep in front of your toes, simply re-position your front foot into a deeper lunge.
  • Sigh when you are moving into the stretch and this will help relax the target muscles.
  • Tilt your hips up, posterior tilt, before you even begin to stretch, to put the target muscles into a nice pre-stretch. This will further your efforts.

The Arm Bar

The effect of the Arm Bar on the shoulders, T-spine and all around posture is apparent as soon as you perform the movement. You can instantly feel a dramatic improvement and an opening throughout your entire body. Let’s examine the classic Arm Bar technique. The Arm Bar starts out the same as its more familiar cousin the Turkish Get Up. I write this assuming you already know how to do a Get Up. If you do not know the Get Up then stop reading now and get thee to an Instructor and learn the Get Up.

  1. Lie on the floor with a light kettlebell on your right side.
  2. Grab the kettlebell with a pistol grip, right hand on the inside and left on the outside, pull your elbow to your ribs.
  3. Roll onto your back prying the kettlebell up as you go. Now using both arms press the bell into the firing range position just as you would for the Get Up.
  4. Things start to differ from the Get Up at this point.
  5. Your left arm goes over your head (horizontally) while you are keeping the kettlebell or “working” arm perpendicular to the ground (vertically.)

To quote Pavel Tsatsouline, “Using your left arm and leg as the axis of rotation and leaving the right arm with the kettlebell straight and vertical bring your right knee towards your chest and roll to your left. Straighten out your right leg and lay it on the ground. Your feet should be a shoulder’s width apart or wider, your knees straight, your toes pointed.”

At this point in the movement you will have four primary things to focus on:

Points to focus on while preforming an arm bar

  • Focus #1 -The kettlebell and working arm must maintain vertical (keep the kettlebell arm vertical in all planes without actually looking at the bell.) Rest your head on the left arm.
  • Focus #2 -Rhythmically begin pumping your hips, trying to get the right hip, in this example, to the ground. It will help to contract the right glute, and breathe, sighing into the extension. The timing should be one rep every two seconds.
  • Focus #3 -Try to make your right collar bone or chest area longer.
  • Focus #4 -Wiggle the left arm (the one on the ground) further and further behind you. Think of stretching the lat.

When you have had enough sloooowly reverse the above process under full control.

The Kettlebell Pullover

The kettlebell Pullover is another often overlooked but nonetheless a powerful posture changer. This innocent looking drill will have a dramatic effect on your ability to achieve that nice overhead lockout on your presses, jerks, snatches etc. As well as a profound impact on your overall posture. Here is how to do it:

Conduction a pull over step 1

Conducting a pull over part 2

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Grab a light kettlebell with both hands; hook your thumbs through the handle in such a way that allows the body of the bell to rest on the insides of your forearms.
  3. Press the bell straight up over your chest – kind of like a bench press.
  4. Engage your lats and lock your elbows. They must stay locked and your lats must stay on throughout the maneuver.
  5. Now slowly lower the kettlebell back and down in an arc so it winds up above your head on the ground.
  6. Take a breath contract and reverse the arc to “pullover” and end up above your chest. Repeat for between 5 and 10 reps.

Note: If you cannot make it all the way to the ground without your shoulders coming unpacked or without bending your elbows then go only as far as you can and do some contract/relax stretching letting the weight of the bell take you down several inches with each relaxation. Be conservative. You may go deeper on each consecution set. With time you will be able to handle the pullover proper.

The Tactical Frog

The Tactical Frog is a magic bullet for gain some incredible control over your hips and improving your overall squatting performance. It has a dramatic effect on almost any athletic movement.

Video Tactical Frog

 Pavel Macek Flexible Steel Instructor Specialist Demos the Moves

Untying the Four Knots Program

I will start this program off very easy because I would rather have something simple and 100-percent compliance than something complicated and half hearted adherence. Four sessions will be posted each week, for the next four weeks. Do them on whatever days suit you best, but do them. And have no fear, by the end of week four you will gain momentum and be doing the full program.

The Four Knots program

Polish Translation  http://flexiblesteel.com/blog/2017/01/01/polish-translation-of-4-weeks-to-flexible-steel-program/

Italian Translation http://flexiblesteel.com/blog/2016/12/29/programma-di-quattro-settimane-per-diventare-flexible-steel/

Czech Translation http://www.kb5.cz/2016/12/4-tydny-k-flexible-steel-program-video-soutez/

Spanish Translation http://flexiblesteel.com/blog/2017/01/06/282/

 

 

What would more usable range of motion do for your sports performance? Imagine not having to fight your own body. Imagine owning unhindered fluid movement that was at your beck and call.