When I started out training regularly a bit more than 3 years ago, I’ve been so f’ckin stiff that I could barely get my legs straight, when standing.
My teenage years loaded with gaming, doing nothing and getting drunk had their price.
Now – 3 years later into that – it’s much better.
I am telling you that because – if I managed to reach that goal you can do that, too!
With this routine, I want to share my favorite exercises and Mobility tools, to improve your Pike Position. OK, let’s head right into it!
What exactly is the Pike Stretch?
The Pike Position is a fundamental position in the world of bodyweight training. It should look something like in the picture to the right.
Yogis call it Forward Folding, but the actual term Pike is grounded in gymnastics.
The goal is to get your upper body as close as possible (or sometimes even onto!) to your legs.
In this position, you’re stretching your whole posterior chain – not just your hamstrings.
A solid Pike Position is beneficial for many other exercises, like Hanging Leg Raises, L-Sits, and nearly every compressing exercise.
Aaaand especially to get your freakin palms to the floor.
The Pike Routine
The actual Mobility exercises
- Warmup: Ballistic Standing Pike Stretch & SL Good Mornings & Calf Stretch (1x10r)
- Lying Hamstring PNF (3 Cycles p.S.)
- Jefferson Curl (3×5-8r)
- Pike Stretch (2x10r+60s)
You don’t want to cold-start your engine and jump right into the most aggressive stretches. I really like this short sequence!
- Good Mornings
- Calf Stretch
Do every exercise just 1 time for 10r or the stretch for 30s per side.
Check these 3 exercises out in my Instagram feed right here.
Lying Hamstring PNF
For this fun exercise, you need a resistance band or something you can kick against slightly like a towel.
When u have no clue what the heck PNF could be – no problem. I got you. Check this post out first.
Lay with your back flat on the ground and pull one of your legs towards you.
The PNF-Cycle should you’re going to perform look something like that:
- Push for 10s into the resistance of the band.
- Next, pull your leg with the band and your hip flexors towards you for another 10s.
- Last but not least sink into the stretch and catch your breath.
You’re going to repeat this funny cycle for another 2 times after you made sure that you’re still breathing. Little Disclaimer – I lied to you it’s no fun at all. Expect you’re kind of masochist – maybe then.
You’ve probably seen this exercise before – some guy with weight rounding his spine enormously so that every unknowing would shout shocked at him: don’t do this it’s bad for your back!
Buuuut – it’s not. Done correctly the Jefferson Curl is a fantastic exercise for healthy hamstrings and a bendy spine.
The description of this one would blast this post – so check this great exercise out in this tutorial by Tom Merrick.
The final position. The end goal. But like with so many things in life the most rewarding is the way to it. After you reach your goal you set your ship on another journey to something even bigger.
So – why am I writing this philosophical monologue about goal setting?
Mobility should always be used. There is no point in getting mobile beyond basics for the sake of being mobile.
Your training should have a demand for the range you are trying to own.
Don’t make these common Mistakes!
It’s an active Mobility Routine
Active. No chilly billy flexibility drills you can do late night in front of GOT. That doesn’t work. Sorry.
The exercises in this Routine equal strongly conventional strength training. It’s fucking hard work. Therefore, you get real results.
Don’t round your low back
In the beginning – don’t do this. It will save you a lot of pain and useless Stretching. Your limiting factor will be your hamstrings most of the time. In rounding your low back you are compensating and missing the target.
Later on, you can experiment with it to get deeper into positons. Or to add a more dynamic component to it.
If you’ve never done something like the Jefferson Curl it will be tricky in the beginning. Promised.
So start out slow and controlled. Start using weight when you really figured out the movement pattern.
“Never load a dysfunctional movement pattern” – think it was Kelly Starret who said that. Nonetheless – true words!
Don’t be afraid of additional weight
Even though you are stretching to get better at calisthenics – why don’t use weights?
Your Posterior chain is extremely strong and explosive – these guys on your backside react very well to loaded stretches and high demands.
Schedule your Mobility Work
Give yourself some time when done with your strength training to work specifically on your worst mobility issues.
It doesn’t have to be much time. 15-20 minutes should do the job totally. Done consistently these minutes go a long way.
How often should I work on my Pike Position?
How hard do you want it?
I wouldn’t do this routine more than 2 times a week. If you are really serious – work without additional weights and do some lighter work.
You are in this mobility game for long-lasting benefits. Trying to skip the process will only get you injured.
Nonetheless, I would integrate some light exercises into your everyday life. Just do the three warmup movements as a desk break or after waking up.
A great pro-tip is it to stretch yourself in your set breaks. For example – I really like to stretch myself in between when working on L-Sits, or Hanging Leg Raises.
Think: ‘Movements – not Muscles’
I tried to use the term stretch your Hamstrings as less as possible.
Cause – your body doesn’t work in isolated muscles. And solely just one muscle is causing issues.
So just think like in your strength training about movements – like vertical push or horizontal pull – in your mobility training, too.
Think about getting a better pike position or a decent pancake. Think about improving your shoulder flexion or your hip internal rotation.
I know – it sounds just like some medical slang. But these small improvements in thinking go a long way.
A few words to wrap up this Post
I hope you could take a few points home with you.
Be free to try out every exercise and use the ones that work for you. What works for you can be very different from what worked for me.
But fortunately, there are a few exercises with which you can’t go wrong. One example would be the basic Pike Stretch or the Jefferson Curl.
I just want to encourage you to try out as many exercises as possible. Being curious about that grants experience.
Start out with my few favorite ones so that you don’t get lost in the vast sea of mobility possibilities and you should see good results.
What do you think about this routine? Did you try it out or do you have any questions? Please HMU! 🙂
If you want to know more about mobility training in general – check out this post!
Read you the next post and until then, happy stretching!
Sources and further reading suggestions:
- Check out this video by Tom Merrick about the relationship of tight hamstrings and a crappy pike position. He explains exactly why you should keep your back straight in the beginning.
- In this article, you can read about the benefits of forward folds. Kinda yoga-related – but I think in the end it’s completely irrelevant how you name this position.