I get questions like, “I am 40. Am I too old to improve my [insert here some athletic ability, for example, flexibility, or strength, or endurance] following your training programs?” An email from a 71-year old user of Flexibility Express answers such questions. Read it and see instructional videos at stadion.com/too-old-to-get-better/


See a video showing an easy, mechanically sound way of achieving the side split. It is at https://www.stadion.com/an-easy-way-to-a-side-split/

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

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


Running is the most commonly used form of movement for developing general aerobic endurance. It is a simple, natural movement, yet people can do it wrong. For a description of the correct running technique plus info on the influence of footwear on gait and posture, which affects athletic performance in every sport and martial art, visit https://www.stadion.com/training-tips-for-running-technique/

Science of Sports Training, 2nd edition, by Thomas Kurz

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

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


Experiments done on athletes long ago (Nawrocka 1967) determined the optimal sequence for teaching a new sports technique:

1. Name the technique and give a brief description, including the key whys (yes, before a demonstration).

2. Demonstrate the whole technique at full speed.

3. Ask the athlete to give a verbal description of the technique.

4. The athlete attempts to perform the technique.

To find out why the above teaching sequence is the optimal one, see “How to Learn Skills Faster and Better—Through Verbalization.”

Science of Sports Training, 2nd edition, by Thomas Kurz

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

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


Recently I was asked, “How much strength training is necessary to become a proficient fighter?” I answered with a list of five most important concepts and principles one should keep in mind when designing and conducting strength training for any sport, not just fighting. The list is split into three articles, the first of which is posted at stadion.com/strength-training-for-martial-arts-what-to-keep-in-mind-part-i/

Science of Sports Training, 2nd edition, by Thomas Kurz

Flexibility Express DVD by Thomas Kurz

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


Fighting techniques, and techniques of any sport where you face an opponent, require an external focus of attention, i.e., on the opponent and the environment. While learning fighting techniques initially you may have an internal focus, i.e., on how you move and what you feel, but when fighting, the opponent is outside of you–so as soon as you can do techniques correctly, you should focus externally, on your opponent, not on yourself.

An example of internal focus:

Apart from the internal focus in this demo, I also don’t like the short grip–which is great for twirling but not for power with accuracy at a long distance.

In a demo below the focus is external because the demonstrator is an experienced street fighter. Even though he doesn’t always look directly at the imaginary target, his focus is constantly on it and he has it in his peripheral vision.

An example of external focus:

The demonstrator still doesn’t take the advantage of the nunchaku’s full mechanical potential, he grips it too short, but being a competent fighter he has skills to fall back on.

More info on on nunchaku as a weapon, not a twirling toy, is in Self-Defense Tip #84 — Using Flexible Weapons: Nunchaku.

For more info on directing your focus of attention see Gold Medal Mental Workout for Combat Sports: A Step-by-Step Program of Mental Exercises to Make You a Winner Every Time.

Gold Medal Mental Workout for Combat Sports by Dariusz Nowicki


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...