Many of the people starting out in flexibility and/or contortion training seem to suffer from a selection of similar issues. I see it time and time again in both kids and adults, you guys need to just slow down and lay some foundation before you get your head into all of the stuff that looks cool and impressive – it isn’t a competition, when ultimately if you don’t prepare correctly you, as a beginner, will always become the losing person.
You’re a beginner but you don’t want to start at the beginning.
Everything we do in life is based on progression. Crawl, walk, run. You don’t go to the gym for your first time, load up a barbell with 200kg and have a go at squatting it do you? Flexibility is exactly the same, you have to progress correctly in order to get to where you want to be. If you’re just starting out and you can’t do any actual poses, that’s fine, start building your foundation. I know it’s boring and it doesn’t look as cool as the cheststand that you want to start working on, but trust me, this will help you in the long run.
Having strong foundation in your hamstrings, shoulders and hips will help you out a great amount further down the line.
You ask loads of questions, but you’ve not started stretching yet.
Asking questions is great, and I greatly encourage you to ask questions of those more advanced than yourself in order to better your practice. There is a point, however, whereby you just have to dive in there and start learning practically. It is afterall called practice not study. Once you’ve got some actual training time under your belt you’re in a much better place to ask questions, as you’ll have started to gain a better understanding of how your body works in different exercises.
You don’t approach training in a smart way
This one really isn’t your fault, you’ve just started and you’re really not sure as to what you’re doing. Especially if you’ve never ventured into physical activity before, or at least not in something that has flexibility as a main component. Something that comes with time and dedication is that you start to learn how your body works and reacts to things, unfortunately it takes just this, time.
So how do you train smart if you don’t really know what you’re doing? You take things slowly and you explore things in a logical systematic way. For example, say you’re starting on a foundation skill like splits, before you just jump right into trying to do them, look at the component parts and think about the exercises you might need to do in order to train these parts. Splits are accomplished using your hamstrings and hip flexors, so these are the areas that you should focus on.
Not knowing how to ask the right questions
Again, this comes with time – you can’t ask about something that you don’t know exists, right? Even if you don’t know what you’re asking about initially, it’s the way that you ask that matters. For example:
“Does anyone know any good hamstring stretches?”
This is such an open-ended question that it’s hardly worth asking or answering. What are you trying to achieve? What is your currently your ability level? What have you tried before? Is something not working, or do you literally have no idea where to begin? So many unknowns!
A better example would be:
“I’m an absolute beginner and I’ve started trying to work on my front splits, I’ve found some stretches online, but I’m not sure if they’re the best for what I want to do. I’ve included examples.”
This is a much better way to ask as you’ve set out your intention, we know what you’re level is and you’ve provided examples. This allows whomever you’re asking to have enough information to give you a helpful reply.
Working on on your strengths, and not your weaknesses
While this is something that not only beginners are guilty of, it is a good idea to build productive habits from the outset. Even if you’re just getting started you may have something that you are naturally inclined in being able to do, such as the innate ability to split, or do a decent bridge or maybe particularly open shoulders. While having that is advantageous, it can very quickly become the focus of your training because it is easier for you than some of the other aspects of training, such as conditioning, or a certain aspect of the foundation flexibility that you should be working on.