Written by 6:16 pm Fitness and Sports Views: 2

‘I’m a Taekwondo World Champion and 4th-Degree Black Belt, and Here’s How I Construct Strong *and* Flexible Legs’

Rayna Vallandingham She began taekwondo when she was 2 years old. At the age of 6, she earned her first black belt. Today, on the age of 20, she is a 13-time world champion in a Korean martial arts form known for her punching techniques and powerful kicks. (Taekwondo roughly translates to “the art of kicking and punching.”)

“Early on, my parents sent me into the game because I used to be just really shy and I feel they saw I needed something,” says Vallandingham, who lives and trains in Los Angeles. “I just loved it immediately. I felt at home and day by day as an alternative of watching DoraI desired to go to the dojo.”

“Instead of watching DoraI desired to go to the dojo.”

Vallandingham attributes his success largely to his consistency over time, including going to the gym recurrently. “It’s a lifestyle,” he says. “It’s not only learning body movements and synchronizing with the body, but additionally the mental aspect of it.”

Mastering the art of taekwondo, which involves performing head kicks, jump kicks with a spin, and punches to knock down an opponent, just isn’t easy. (Understatement.) Requires tremendous strength, flexibility, AND power. “Of the three, I feel the 2 most vital are strength and adaptability,” says Vallandingham.

Unfortunately, she has learned the hard way that there is no such thing as a fast track to the form of stretch (or lengthening) of the leg muscles required to excel in her sport. She recalls a time when, at first of her training, as with ballet dancers, it was believed that flexibility may very well be enforced by going beyond the ultimate range of motion. “I used to get people on my feet and force my knees down in a butterfly stretch,” she says. “I even have everlasting damage – I even have tendinitis [because of this]”.

She has now Lots a more balanced approach to her training that helps her stay on top while avoiding injury.

Like a world champion in taekwondo, he builds leg strength and adaptability

Before Vallandingham even thinks about lifting weights, she takes time to stretch by doing a dynamic warm-up, a kind of stretching that helps raise her body temperature and speed up her heart rate by increasing blood flow to her muscles so she’s ready to fireside up when she moves.

When strength training, Vallandingham says he likes to concentrate on supersets, which involve performing two moves back-to-back that focus on the identical muscle groups to double their gains. He will first do a mobility exercise so that each one the joints he plans to make use of will undergo a full range of motion. (FYI, mobility is the product of flexibility and strength.) Then it’s able to lift.

One of her favorite exercises for strong legs is the goblet squat. To prepare for this, Vallandingham will stand along with her feet shoulder-width apart, bend forward until she will be able to slip her hands under the soles (you too can hold her ankles or calves), then bend her knees, lowering her butt towards the ground while lifting her chest chest, doing a deep squat. He bends and straightens his legs several times on this position. He then proceeds to the fundamental event, holding the load in his hands as he bends down right into a deep squat.

Another way Vallandingham likes to coach flexibility, mobility and strength at the identical time is to perform exercises on an unstable surface. “I really like using Bosu balls – they’re in almost every gym,” he says. She likes to face on one while performing lower body movements akin to squats or deadlifts (in addition to kicks) since the tremors it causes cause her muscles to activate greater than if she were doing the identical things standing on the ground.

The secret to Vallandingham’s explosive kicks

Power is the product of force and speed. So when Vallandingham trains lower body power, she alters her pace as she performs the exercise in order that she moves faster throughout the effort and slower as she resets for the following repetition. For example, for example he’s doing a goblet squat: it’d appear to be taking place on the count of three after which coming back up on the count of 1.

“If I’m constructing strength, I’m also keeping control of my movements,” she says. “I feel loads of people who find themselves learning learn how to generate power forget that – staying on top of things during this process could be very vital.”

Why Vallandingham saves post-workout flexibility training

If you are taking a frozen asparagus spear and take a look at to bend it in half, it would break – but in the event you let it thaw first, you possibly can fold it, no problem. The same principle applies to body and adaptability training –tests shows that stretching (the perfect solution to be flexible) is the worst thing you possibly can do when your muscles are cold. “Every time you begin stretching [cold muscles]what causes a stretch reflex which causes the muscle tissue to activate a protective mechanism to maintain from stretching,” Eric Owens, a musculoskeletal expert and co-founder of Delos Therapy, told Well+Good.

That’s why Vallandingham saves static stretching for the remaining of her workout when her body is already warmed up. One of her favorite ways to work on lower body flexibility is to lie on the ground along with her legs against the wall after which allow them to unfolded to the side. “I let gravity work since it’s my body telling me, okay, here we’re,” she says. “My hips open on their very own and I haven’t got to force anything.”

First of all, if you should lengthen and strengthen your leg muscles, Vallandingham says there’s one thing that you must practice diligently: perseverance. “Consistency is way more vital than intensity for max profit,” he says. “Enjoy your journey. Don’t be too hard on yourself; don’t put an excessive amount of pressure on it.” And not just for the joints.

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