Ring Muscle Up Breakdown Analysis

In this video a tutorial on how to learn the muscle up on the rings.

The muscle up is definitely an advanced exercise that involves the strength of the entire upper body. Flexible and at the same time stable shoulders are an absolute prerequisite.

Anyone who learns the Muscle Up on the rings has not only built up a decent amount of pulling and pushing power, but has also gained access to far more advanced elements on the gymnastic rings. It’s worth it…

Of course, this video is only a guide – in my online coaching you will find many other videos with drills and tips to make your training even more effective.


Use it or Lose it (?)

Much said, often heard – but what is actually behind “Use It Or Lose It”?


In this short article I want to explain exactly that.


Your body – a master of adaptation (Use It ..)


Adaptation (from Latin ‘adaptare’, to adapt, to change) is, simply put, the ability to adapt to certain conditions. Every living being – including humans – possesses this ability. Whether you realise it or not, your body adapts umpteen times a day to changing environmental conditions. Examples: The adaptation of your blood sugar and the associated insulin production due to a meal, the adaptation of your muscles due to training stimuli, the adaptation of your pupil due to different light effects or the adaptations of your nerve cells due to repeated execution of a movement (more on this in my following article on movement learning!). These adaptations can be very quick (pupillary reflex) or take a long time (those coveted biceps don’t come overnight…).


How can training or exercise affect your body?


An adaptation would be, for example, as mentioned above, the increase in thickness of your muscles due to training stimuli (in short: high loads lead to micro tears in the muscle fibres, which are “filled” by new building blocks (proteins)), strengthening of your bones due to forces acting on them (in short: muscle tension can lead, among other things, to the structure of your bones changing on a micro level. This happens through a change in the alignment of the bone trabeculae [see Wolff’s law or piezoelectric effect]), improvement of capillarisation (expansion or new construction of the smallest blood vessels) due to endurance training (in short: capillaries, the smallest blood vessels, are expanded or newly formed in order, among other things, to be able to transport metabolic products away from the muscles) or the improvement of your mobility (see Articles).




To return to the proverb: If you regularly create circumstances, like exercising a muscle, your body adapts to it. In other words: Use xyz and xyz will stay with you – Use It.


Your Body – A Saving Fox (.. Or Lose It)


The reality is that adaptation can go both ways: Bone density/muscle thickness/number and size of capillaries can increase, but just as well it can decrease. You often notice this after a longer break from sport/exercise/movement: you have become weaker, you have become stiffer and you have to exert yourself more during physical activity than before. But why does the body break down what it took so much effort to build up before? The main reason is that your body can use the energy it actually needs to maintain your muscles, for example, for more “important” things. The body always strives for an optimal energy balance in order to be able to produce as much energy as possible from as little food as possible: In times of food scarcity, it was necessary for survival to have the most efficient energy balance possible). Bone density decreases because the tensile and compressive forces on the bones are reduced and mobility deteriorates due to “matted” connective tissue structures (so-called fasciae). Generally speaking, the body sheds unnecessary ballast. In other words: Don’t use xyz, and you lose xyz – Or Lose It.


Here, however, I would like to take some harshness out of the saying “Use It Or Lose It”. Lose It sounds so final. In very few cases, however, this is the case. Often the lost ability can be reactivated through training/use. Depending on the length of the training break, this can take shorter or longer.


The body has even developed mechanisms to help it regain its old abilities more quickly after a break. One of these mechanisms is the so-called muscle memory effect. This means that after a break in training, the original muscle mass and strength is back at the old level more quickly than the time it took to build up the muscles before the break. The reason for this is that the muscle cells have lost volume, but have not been “dissolved” (the cell nucleus remains intact, and thus also the “intelligence of the cell”) and can therefore be reactivated. In addition, the movement patterns (e.g. performing a squat) still exist and no longer have to be learned. 


Practical application


I hope that I have been able to show you what the basics behind the saying are. If you now think about it, many “Why?” questions suddenly fall away. Why am I so immobile? Why do I have no strength? Why do I have underdeveloped core muscles and back pain? The answer to these questions: Probably because you are not using your body/skills! How often do you move your joints to the end of their range of motion (and thus into a stretching position)? How often do you use force? Often the answer is: could be more.


Finally, a few practical tips that you can think about more often:


Depending on your goal, spend more time fulfilling them:


Flexibility: Challenge your flexibility in many situations (hanging out on branches/poles on the bus/door frame, stretching calf muscles on stairs/stones, sitting in a squat while reading, or, or, or…).





Strength: Do activities every day that train your strength (carry heavy shopping bags in one hand – perhaps even overhead, take two, three, four or five stairs at a time, consciously tense your trunk muscles more often – while sitting, walking, lying down, etc.).


Compensate for imbalances: You notice that when you stand, you strain one leg more than the other? You notice that you generally only turn to one side? You usually only use your right hand in everyday life? Pay a little attention to yourself and your body and you will notice such “little things”. Next time try to use your “weak” side.



I hope you enjoyed this very general article. If you have any further questions, just contact me (info@nilteisner.de).


Stay loose and keep moving,


Mobility: Basis for Movement Part 1

What is mobility – is mobility the same as mobility? Who should be mobile and why? And for many very important: How do I become mobile again? And why do I use the word “again”?

In the following article I would like to give an overview of this exciting topic, answer the above questions (and more) and give my opinion, based on my own experience, my work as a trainer and my studies in sports science, regarding mobility in training and everyday life.

I have tried to keep the article as simple as possible so that it can be understood by everyone, even if the subject matter is completely new. Nevertheless, one or two Latin words will appear, of course with the necessary explanation.

This is not an article based solely on practical experience, nor does it meet all scientific standards. However, it will give you a very comprehensive picture of the subject of flexibility and equip you with the necessary knowledge to help yourself to a flexible body. If in doubt, please consult a professionally trained trainer/therapist or similar.

For a better overview, I have divided the text into the following points.

1 What is mobility?
1.1 Basic concepts
1.2 Physiological mechanisms
1.3 Forms of mobility

2 Why train flexibility?
2.1 Advantages and effects of flexibility training
2.2 Factors influencing flexibility
2.3 Myths

3 How do I become mobile?
3.1 Methods
3.2 Timing of flexibility training

4. summary

1. What is Mobility?

Mobility affects us all. Mobility enables our joints to realise large movement dimensions. Many everyday and sports movements require a large range of motion. Imagine the following situation, for example: The light bulb of your ceiling lamp needs to be changed, so you take a ladder and start to unscrew the light bulb from its socket. Or: You drop something on the street, so you squat down and pick it up. Or: You get on a bus with a rather high entrance. Or, or, or. All these movements could become a problem with severely limited mobility in the associated joints. In sports situations, the role of mobility seems even more ubiquitous: a split in gymnastics, jumping over a hurdle in hurdling, or the low squat of a sumo wrestler. Flexibility accompanies us at every turn. Now look forward to the following lines that will hopefully bring some light into the darkness!

1.1 Basic Concepts

“Mobility is the ability to perform movements arbitrarily with the required amplitude” or “the ability to perform movements with the required or optimal amplitude, which is made possible by the joint systems” are only two of the many definitions around the topic of mobility. In order to understand these definitions, it is first necessary to clarify the basic terms. After all, mobility is made up of several components, including:

Articulation, as the range of oscillation of joints, influenced by bony structures,
extensibility, as the stretchability of muscles, tendons, skin and connective tissue. Mobility, another term that is very comprehensive and refers to the ability of a joint to move freely. Mobility is influenced by anatomical-structural components (for example, ossifications at joints), length and tension of the muscles surrounding the joint, quality of the tissue (e.g. connective tissue such as “fascia”) as well as the neuromuscular control of the joint (= how well the nervous system can control the joint).

Other terms such as flexibility can be seen as synonyms for mobility.

As you can see, there is a lot to explore, research and talk about around the topic of mobility!

In the next section, I will touch on the physiological mechanisms of the topic and show which components of flexibility can be trained.

1.2 Physiological Mechanisms

The basis is the anatomy of the tissue to be stretched: muscle, tendon, connective tissue, skin – although I will only touch on the subject as it would otherwise go beyond the scope of this article. Put simply, most skeletal muscles (those that can be controlled at will and are used to move the skeleton) each have a tendon at their ends. The tendon connects the muscles to a bone via a connective tissue, the periosteum, and can thus transmit forces.

tendon attach
(Quelle: http://photos1.blogger.com/img/147/2431/320/tendon%20attach.jpg)

The muscle (1) itself consists of many muscle fibre bundles (2), which in turn can be broken down into individual fibres (3). The individual fibre can be broken down again into even smaller muscle fibrils (4). If we break the whole thing down one more time, we arrive at the sarcomere. This sarcomere consists of many contractile units that are ultimately responsible for performing muscle contraction/relaxation.

(Quelle: http://www.apotheken-umschau.de/multimedia/66/94/263/6333259793.jpg)

Schematically, this movement can be represented like a telescopic antenna: during contraction (tension) of the muscles, the filaments slide into each other – the muscle shortens and becomes thicker. During relaxation, the filaments slide apart – the muscle returns to its original length. The following video shows this quite clearly.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW3ZFtT202Y]

Science is still not 100% sure which structures of the sarcomere are ultimately involved in mobility (For further research: titin filaments, the only elastic elements within the muscle fibre). In contrast, a tendon consists mainly of collagen. This tissue has very good tensile strength, which is of course very important when you consider that enormous forces act on it, and therefore allows only very small amounts of stretching. The substance that holds all our structures in place is connective tissue. There are different types of connective tissue, which fulfil different functions in the body. Important for this topic is the fact that the connective tissue also coats the individual fibres of the muscles and can influence the state of tension (in this article I will not go into the various functions, such as plasticity of the connective tissue. This is an exciting and extensive topic for the near future). In the meantime, if you want, you can watch the following short documentary on the subject of fascia:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY3W9FFUvAU]

(Quelle: https://image.jimcdn.com/app/cms/image/transf/none/path/sf22547969010ed89/image/ida1669d6d0b86e9e/version/1418562170/faszien.jpg)

The skin as a component mostly contributes only minimally to mobility in the conventional sense and will not be discussed further in this article.

What happens when a muscle is being stretched?

To explore this question, we look at two other structures in muscle and tendon: the muscle spindles and the Golgi tendon organs. These organs are “tension detectors” and give our brain feedback about the length of our muscles and tendons respectively. At the beginning of a stretch, the contractile units of the sarcomeres give way – the telescope moves apart. If the tension in the muscle becomes too high, the muscle spindles switch on and give our nervous system the signal: “Before the muscle tears – tense the muscle!” This protective mechanism thus serves to prevent injury and is called “self-reflex”. If the stretching in the musculature nevertheless continues to increase (for example in the case of a fall – see illustration)


the Golgi tendon organs, which are located at the transition from muscle to tendon, switch on and cause exactly the opposite: a reflex relaxation of the same muscle. This mechanism serves to provide the muscle with a certain stretch reserve and is called the “tension reflex”. We will look at these mechanisms again later in the different stretching methods.

Which components of mobility can be trained?

From a structural point of view, about 50% of the mobility of a joint is determined by the joint structure and 50% by muscles (approx. 41%), tendons and ligaments, connective tissue and skin (% values are of course only a guideline and cannot be generalised!). Articulation (remember: bony structure of a joint) is thus a major factor that can influence the mobility of a joint. However, like any other tissue in the human body, a bone has the ability to adapt. The anatomy of a bone allows it to respond to stress and gradually adapt to that stress. However, this process requires a lot of patience and, above all, time. An example of changes in bony structures are femoral head adaptations in old age (femoral neck angle).

(Quelle: http://www.medizinfo.de/becken/images/ccd_winkel.jpg)

If you now blame your problems with mobility on your innate low flexibility, you are very likely on the wrong track! In most cases, very good mobility can be achieved, which is mainly due to changes in the musculature (especially muscle tension, which is built up by the nervous system). As a small child, most of us possessed optimal mobility – only very many “unlearn” this ability.

(Quelle: http://nicktumminello.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/baby-squat.jpg)

The basis for this is the principle “Use it, or Lose it”. As written above, every structure of our body is subject to constant adaptation. If you don’t use a structure, why try to maintain it? This is also true for flexibility: If you never bring a muscle to its final range of motion, it will adapt to the length that is actively used by you! Accordingly, flexibility training does not mean lengthening the muscle, but rather returning it (optimally) to its original state of tension. Here is an important hint: the assumption that muscles can “shorten” is not scientifically proven! To date, the structural length of a muscle cannot change (except pathologically). As we have established above, this is determined by the length and number of sarcomeres. Rather, there is a lower tolerance to stretching tension (“stretching pain”).
The only change in length in the muscle occurs during contraction and relaxation (to repeat: sliding into each other of the contractile units in the sarcomere), but it is reversible (can be reversed).

In the next section, I will discuss different forms of flexibility and show that not all flexibility is the same.

1.3 Forms of mobility

In training theory, the following forms of mobility are distinguished:

According to the muscular mode of action:

– Passive: defined as the ability to move a joint as far as possible by the action of external forces (gravity, partner, own body weight).
body weight) to assume as large a joint angle as possible.

– Active: defined as the ability to assume a stretching position through muscular tension. In
In plain language: strength training. The muscle that works here is on the opposite side of the muscle to be stretched.
opposite side of the muscle to be stretched.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOlMarPm-Uw]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf64mkIF1Qc]

If a muscle is passively stretched, it reaches its anatomical movement limit in the best case – this is the end, you feel the stretch enormously! Through active mobility, on the other hand, the physiological movement limit is taken (when it is reached, you do not feel any stretching pain, but rather very tense, often even cramping muscles). As the video shows, this is much lower than the anatomical range of motion. Very often, active mobility training is neglected, which means that a large range of movement cannot be used at all. Therefore: train passive as well as active mobility!

According to the muscular load form:

static: defined as the ability to assume the largest possible joint angle and maintain it for a long time.

– Dynamic: defined as the ability to assume the largest possible joint angle in the short term through springy movements.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGVpIthEq80]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JK5PWVglDU]

Through dynamic/ballistic stretching, greater joint amplitudes can be achieved (example: try to touch the tips of your toes while standing. Now repeat the whole thing with small bobbing movements and you will achieve a greater amplitude). However, this comes with a certain risk of injury if, for example, you stretch too fast or too aggressively. There is more on this in the stretching methods section!

According to the proportion of the joint systems:

local: the mobility of a single joint / joint system.

(local mobility in the wrist)

(local mobility in the ankle)

– global: the mobility across several joints.

(globale Beweglichkeit in der rückwärtigen Kette)


(global mobility in the forward chain).

Most everyday / sports movements require global flexibility. Therefore, my tip: In addition to local stretches, also stretch entire “muscle loops”, as is done in yoga systems, for example. This also reaches fascial structures that connect different muscles and extend over long chains. Feel the difference with the following test: Get into the torso bend, leave your spine still quite upright, and feel the stretch. Now try to curl your spine and bring your forehead closer to your knees. Although the muscles of the back of the leg have not been “pulled apart” any further, you will most likely feel an intensified stretch.


Of course, many situations require not only one form of flexibility, but rather mixed forms. Common terms in training theory are active-static, active-dynamic, passive-static and passive-dynamic. I will discuss these combinations in part 3 of this series.

This first, yet very comprehensive section, has dealt with the basics of flexibility. The next part will build on this knowledge.
I will go into the benefits of flexibility training, explain the factors that influence flexibility as well as clear up “myths” surrounding this topic.

Be curious!

Your Nil




Mobility: Basis for Movement Part 2

This second part of the series Mobility – A Foundation for Movement (to Part 1) addresses the question “why?”. Why train flexibility at all? What are the benefits of working on this skill? What effects can you expect – in the short term as well as in the long term? What are the factors that influence flexibility?

Finally, I will clear up myths around the topic, including “stretching as muscle soreness prophylaxis”.

1 What is mobility?
1.1 Basic concepts
1.2 Physiological mechanisms
1.3 Forms of mobility

2 Why train flexibility?
2.1 Effects and benefits of flexibility training
2.2 Factors influencing flexibility
2.3 Myths

3 How do I become mobile?
3.1 Methods
3.2 Timing of flexibility training

4. summary

2 Why train flexibility?

2.1 Effects and advantages of flexibility training

In order to answer the question “why?”, it makes sense to start by considering the effects, changes and benefits that flexibility training can bring.

In this article I have divided the effects into the following sub-headings:

Neuromuscular changes, muscular changes and structural changes.

Neuromuscular changes:
As I mentioned in the first part of the series, the ability of the nervous system to tolerate stretching tension significantly determines mobility. If this is now trained regularly, receptors in the muscles, tendons and connective tissue “get used to” the increased stretching tension. As a result, the sensation of pain is gradually reduced.

Muscular changes:
For this point, let’s recall “active mobility” again: the stretching position is taken actively, that is, with muscular strength. Here two terms are of great use: Agonist (the muscle I want to stretch) and Antagonist (the muscle “on the other side of the body” that tenses and brings me into the stretch position). Since active flexibility training is strength training for the antagonist, the antagonist is strengthened. Accordingly, active flexibility improves.

Structural changes:
I have already mentioned the connective tissue in the first part, but I would like to come back to it here. Under normal circumstances, the connective tissue has a neatly arranged, lattice-like structure which has very elastic properties. Due to lack of movement, which is only one of many causes, this structure can change and become “matted”. This felting is accompanied by reduced elasticity and the associated poorer mobility. Stretching and massage methods can counteract this. I will talk about massage and relaxation methods in part 3.

fasz 1

The advantages of flexibility training (only a small selection) are:
– Newly acquired mobility allows many new positions to be adopted and movements to be realised
– Create movement reserves (the difference between required and maximum movement amplitude) which can minimise injuries.

akt vs pass

– Improved mobility can avoid compensation patterns due to a lack of mobility in one or more joints


Due to lack of shoulder mobility, the lumbar spine compensates with hyperextension (hollow back).

– Positive effects on strength (mobility and strength are not mutually exclusive: increased mobility can even increase the degree of utilisation of muscular strength capacity, subject of extended acceleration distances!), speed (maximum speed can only be achieved if no joint angle end position is reached. Accordingly, a certain reserve of flexibility is of great benefit with regard to maximum speed), endurance (improved technique economy through flexibility) and coordination/technique (essential prerequisite for sporting techniques: Weightlifting, gymnastics, etc.).

– Regular stretching of muscles that are used for strength or speed can prevent muscle shortening in the long term.

2.2 Factors influencing mobility

Not everyone is equally mobile. Like everything else in the body, the ability to move adapts to internal (endogenous) and external (exogenous) factors. In order to better assess oneself and choose a suitable flexibility training programme, it is important to inform oneself about these factors. This can save a lot of time, headaches and effort and lead to better/faster results.

Endogenous factors:

Endogenous refers to those factors that act from within a system (in this case, the human system) to the outside.

With increasing age, a reduced mobility is observed, what is the reason for this? In general, all structures in the human body are subject to wear and tear. For example, the quality and structure of connective tissue decreases if it is not maintained. Cartilage tissue (cartilage is the substance that covers a bone in the joint area and allows the joint surfaces to move cleanly and smoothly, as well as providing protection for the bone tissue. The structure and other functions of cartilage will not be discussed further in this article) is not properly supplied with nutrients and is more susceptible to wear and tear if the joints are not moved and loaded properly. Muscle mass also decreases with age, which is partly due to a reduced release of the hormone testosterone. In addition, the amount of water in the tissue decreases, which has a negative effect on elasticity. But if you look at older people who have done sports for a large part of their lives, especially disciplines such as gymnastics, dance or other forms of gymnastics, you can see a significantly increased flexibility compared to people who have hardly done any sports all their lives. As described in the first part of this series, our bodies adapt to stimuli such as training or everyday movement patterns and can thus change in the long term. The principle of “Use it or Lose it” applies here again: if you regularly teach your joints, muscles, connective tissue and nervous system to be able to realise and allow large amounts of movement, your mobility will adjust to a healthy level in the long term and even in old age (deterioration cannot be stopped, but it can be significantly slowed down!). The earlier you start the better!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NZ6C6wGpAE]
Johanna Quaas: still very sporty even at an advanced age

Gender also plays a role, whereby women usually have better conditions due to hormonal differences (increased oestrogen level) and the associated lower tissue density (increased storage of water and fatty tissue). In addition, muscle mass and muscle tone are usually lower in women compared to men. This is not to say that it is not possible for men to achieve good to very good flexibility – it may just take a little more time and effort.

For the reasons mentioned above, it is appropriate here to address the issue of hypermobility, i.e. too much range of motion in a joint.


Women are more often affected by this condition. Some sports, such as gymnastics (see splits…) even prevent a certain hypermobility. But what is too much mobility? For one thing, mobility is determined by bony structures. If the bone structure genetically allows a joint movement beyond the healthy extent, we speak of increased mobility, which can go hand in hand with increased stress in the joint. The opposite is hypomobility, which can result from joint blockages, for example. On the other hand, mobility is made up of structures and abilities discussed in the first part of this series (muscle, tendons, joint capsules, ligaments and tolerance to stretching stress). In principle, even a split (also induced by hypermobility) can be a healthy joint position IF the joint can still be stabilised by the muscles in the final position. I want to emphasise this point again: It is not enough to passively stretch a muscle or a position to the point of no longer being able to do so, it is imperative to additionally make sure to use this new range of motion! This means training active mobility so that the new joint position can be integrated into a movement pattern and thus be subject to the control of the nervous system.


Martial arts often require very good passive, as well as active-dynamic mobility

Body temperature:
Warmed muscles have better blood circulation and increased metabolic performance. In addition, the muscles’ ability to tense and stretch increases. I am of the opinion that it definitely makes sense to warm up before an intensive flexibility training session. However, in real life, the conditions are not perfect. We don’t think about warming up before a movement that requires a relatively high degree of flexibility. In addition, from time to time we get into situations (for example, falls) for which we cannot prepare. For this reason, I try to take up as many positions as possible throughout the day that require an increased degree of mobility. This way I allow my body to get used to a higher tolerance of stretching tension.

Anthropometry is concerned with, among other things, the individual lengths of body parts/segments. Although this can only be minimally conditioned through training, if at all, it is an often neglected factor in relation to body positions. For example, people with long arms and short legs find it easier to perform a trunk bend while touching the tips of their toes with their fingers. Another example would be that people with shorter femurs and comparatively longer torsos can perform a more upright squat. Thus, individual differences in exercise execution or techniques must be taken into account here.



Different body segment lengths and their effect in the squat.

Tension states:
This factor takes into account, among other things, stress, discomfort or other influences on a relaxed state. During stress the nervous system is sympathetically active (a “fight or flight” state, the opposite is parasympathetic activation – a resting state) and does not allow for high volumes of movement. Accordingly, it is appropriate to perform flexibility training in a relaxed state.

Exogenous factors:

Exogenous factors are stimuli from the environment, but also contribute significantly to mobility.

Fatigue due to load stimuli:
Reduced mobility can be observed after intense exertion. Here it is advantageous to look at the energy supply in the muscles.
muscles. In order not to go beyond the scope of this article, I will only go into this in schematic form: energy is stored in the body by means of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a universal energy carrier accessible to all cells, and is immediately available in high concentrations in the tissue. In short, the ATP stores in the muscle are pretty much used up after increased exertion. However, a muscle needs ATP to relax (remember: contraction = tension, shortening; relaxation = relaxation, return to the original length). So when the ATP stores are empty, muscle tone is increased. More on the topic of “stretching after exertion” at the end of this part and in the next.

As already described in the endogenous factors, the ambient temperature also plays an important role. As you might imagine, a warm ambient temperature favours a warmed-up musculature – and vice versa. Accordingly: in cold regions, seasons or rooms, it is advisable to place particular emphasis on warming up (this actually applies to all forms of training), because cold stimuli can lead to an increase in muscle tone.

Time of day:
This point is very individual. In general, mobility is lowest after getting up (the body has been in more or less the same positions for the previous hours). The greatest range of motion can often be achieved in the evening, as the body has already been able to move all day and has become accustomed to the joint positions.

2.3 Myths

To this day, there are many myths surrounding the topic of flexibility, both in society and among trainers. Since science is already a bit further along, I will dispel three major myths here.

Stretching as muscle soreness prophylaxis:
Very often you hear after a hard workout: “I’ll stretch now, then the muscle soreness will get better – or won’t develop at all!”. In order to be able to evaluate this questionable statement, let’s first take a look at the mechanisms behind the phenomenon of muscle soreness. As with so many things, science is not yet 100% sure what exactly is going on. The current state of affairs is as follows: as I mentioned in the first part of this series, the individual muscle fibril consists of sarcomeres, a contractile unit. If you look at these sarcomeres, you find that they are made up of several structures, including actin and myosin, which are ultimately responsible for contraction. The sarcomeres are separated from each other by so-called Z-disks or Z-strips. In the case of muscle soreness, injuries, or more precisely tears, were found precisely on these Z-strips.



After about 24-36 hours (muscle soreness usually occurs on the second day of a hard workout), water (oedema) penetrates these tears, causing the muscle fibre to swell and stretch. This stretching is often the source of the pain in sore muscles. The tears in the Z-strips are induced, among other things, by new, unaccustomed stresses or extremely strong training stimuli. Above all, however, this does not happen in concentric muscle work (concentric = overcoming; example: getting up from a squat or pulling up when doing a pull-up) but in eccentric muscle work (eccentric = yielding; example: going down when doing a push-up or going downhill). To get back to the actual question: Stretching to prevent muscle soreness? If a hard workout has caused micro-injuries in the muscle, these certainly cannot be reversed with stretching exercises – on the contrary, hard stretching can even make the injuries worse (even extreme flexibility training can provoke muscle soreness)! This also applies to firm massages (also self-massages with Blackroll, etc.).
I will report in detail on the question of when flexibility training makes sense in the third part.

Until then, it remains to be said: After a hard training session, it is advisable to carry out cool-down measures, such as “running out” or relaxation / loosening exercises, in order to bring the body temperature to a normal level, to “flush” metabolic (waste) products out of the muscle and to slowly lower the muscle tone.

Stretching alone is enough to compensate for bad posture:
I am writing a separate article on the subject of “posture” and will therefore only deal with it very briefly here. Poor posture can have many causes, but often there are “muscle shortenings” (rather increased tension) on the one hand and weakened muscles (often without the ability to control them) on the other. It is therefore not enough to stretch only muscles with increased tension – the muscles that are weakened must be strengthened. In this way, a balance between the muscles can be established in the long term (here, it is disregarded where these malpositions come from and whether it is really always necessary to stretch tense muscles).


Static stretching as a warm-up method – What’s the point?
You have to differentiate between the type of exercise for which you are warming up: Before movements or sports that require a certain degree of flexibility (gymnastics, martial arts, hurdling, etc.), it certainly makes sense to use stretching methods before the load in order to prepare for the following positions. However, before sports that require increased strength or fast-acting performance, extensive stretching can even provoke injuries or reduce performance. The reason for this is reduced muscle tone and a reduced ability to stimulate (“paralysis” of nerve cells and receptors) the muscle. If static stretching is nevertheless performed before such a sport/competition, it makes sense to perform submaximal loads before the actual task in order to increase muscle tone again and improve control.
You can find out when is a good time for flexibility training and how best to warm up and “stretch” before sport in part three under the point “Timing for flexibility training”.

I hope you enjoyed this second part and gained new knowledge about flexibility. In the last article of this series, I will address the much sought-after question “How do I become flexible?” and finally give a summary of this complex topic.

Until then,

Your Nil

Mobility: Basis for Movement Part 3

In this third part of the article on flexibility, I will introduce you to different methods of flexibility training, show you when which method is best and give you a summary of the whole article.
How do I become flexible? – Find out here!

1 What is flexibility?
1.1 Basic concepts
1.2 Physiological mechanisms
1.3 Forms of mobility

2 Why train flexibility?
2.1 Effects and benefits of flexibility training
2.2 Factors influencing flexibility
2.3 Myths

3 How do I become mobile?
3.1 Methods
3.2 Timing of flexibility training

4. summary


3 How do I become flexible?

The “How?” is probably the most interesting question in the context of this topic and also the reason why you are reading this article in the first place. That’s why I’ve written the third part a little more concisely, so that you don’t have to slog through all the theory, but learn straight away what you can do to improve your flexibility.



3.1 Methods

Static stretching: As already described in the first part, static stretching is the prolonged holding of as large a joint angle position as possible. An example of this would be staying in a split. Static stretching is also known as “stretching” and is usually associated with flexibility training.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kkXDJmtEHU]

Dynamic stretching: In contrast to static stretching, this means assuming a maximum joint angle position only for a very short moment. This is achieved through springy movements. An example of this is swinging a leg back and forth, as often seen in martial arts warm-ups.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtbJ–W4wgY]

In the course of dynamic stretching it makes sense to look at the term “ballistic stretching”. Ballistic stretching is more intense and aggressive compared to the springy movements in the classical sense of dynamic stretching. The individual impacts are performed in such a way that an almost maximum stretching position is reached for a very short time. Due to the high number of repetitions (in many cases up to 100 pushes are documented) and the thus accumulated time in the stretch, one hopes for an increased effect compared to only light dynamic stretching. Important here: ballistic stretching should only be warmed up and used by advanced practitioners. A little food for thought: If you think about it carefully, kettlebell swings are a form of ballistic stretching, because in the lower position you bring the back chain (back of the thigh, buttocks) into tension a little bit each time. This principle can be transferred to many other movements and exercises …

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmD529v97nY]

“Loaded Stretching”: Loaded stretching is a sub-form of static stretching, or more precisely of active-static stretching (remember: active means under tension of the muscles and thus a simultaneous activation of the nervous system). As the name suggests, additional weights are used to help you get deeper into the stretching position. However, this method should only be performed after a warm-up and by advanced practitioners.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpGO6IzSDYY]

PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) methods: From here on it starts to get very scientific. The following stretching methods use little tricks to stimulate the nervous system to allow more intense stretching positions. I can explain the exact principles on request, but I will only give a very brief summary here. The following methods are, in my opinion, the most suitable for making rapid progress in terms of flexibility, but the body should have been well warmed up so that the risk of injury is minimised.

– Antagonist Contract / Reciprocal Forward Inhibition: The principle here is as follows: The antagonist of the muscle being stretched is tensed to the maximum during the stretch. This causes the stretched muscle to relax (inhibited by switch cells) and can thus be stretched more intensively. Basically very logical: let’s look at the biceps and the triceps, two muscles of the upper arm that have as one of their tasks the bending and stretching of the elbow. When the biceps tense, the triceps relax and the elbow bends. If the triceps were to go into a state of tension at the same time, there would either be an isometric contraction (a static/sustained tension) or a cramp. This principle can be applied to almost all areas of the body. Examples: Stretching hip flexors and tensing buttocks, stretching calf in bent knee position and tensing front shin muscles, etc….

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LL7I9EvJqI]

– Contract Relax / autogenous inhibition: This method involves tensing the muscle submaximally (“a 7 on a scale of 1-10”) before a stretch and then moving deeper into the respective stretch position with the exhale. The contraction should take place without changing the joint angle and last for about 5-8 seconds. With the exhalation you relax the muscle again and let yourself sink deeper into the stretch. In total, you can go through several of these cycles per stretched muscle. It should be clearly noticeable that a new muscle length can be realised after each contraction.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94gCK97cQkM]

– Contract Relax – Antagonist Contract (hybrid): In this combination of Contract Relax and Antagonist Contract (note: CRAC), the target muscle is slightly stretched, then a cycle of Contract Relax is performed and then statically stretched using the Antagonist Contract method. You can also go through this sequence several times. Personally, I have made very good progress in terms of flexibility with this combination and can recommend it with a clear conscience.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3MQro_Zcds]

MFR (Myofascial Release)/ Self Massage: The term myofascial release means releasing adhesions, tension or hardening within the fascia (a special type of connective tissue) or muscles. These massage techniques can be performed on oneself using various rollers, balls or self-massage tools. I will write a separate article on the topic of MFR and working with massage tools. However, what I want to say in advance is that the combination of stretching methods, relaxation methods and massage techniques achieves the best results in most cases, as individual solutions often reach their limits. For example, classic stretching methods are more difficult to relieve tension than massages.

Relaxation techniques: The aim of many relaxation methods is to reduce muscle tone (the resting tension of the muscle). There are many ways to achieve this: Breathing exercises, meditation, baths, sauna, autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation. Another article will follow on this topic. The Take-Home Message: Relaxation is a very important factor that can influence flexibility. Often (except perhaps with dynamic stretching as an activating warm-up method) a state of relaxation is a very good indication of successful flexibility training.

3.2 Timing of flexibility training

In order to keep the topic simple and clear, I have created a table that shows areas of application for stretching methods.

Wann welche methode

General advice:

Listen to your body: Like so many things, flexibility is very individual and difficult to generalise. Whatever stretching method you use, it has to feel right. However, if you have the feeling or the experience that it is sufficient to stretch statically and you still achieve your goals, that is completely okay. Other people, however, have a very high muscle tone and are almost permanently in tension. PNF methods and especially massage/relaxation measures could help here. Listen to your body and try out many things. And above all …

Be patient: As already written in the first articles, the body needs time to adjust to the stretching stimuli. It also takes time for your pain tolerance to increase and for you to be able to do more intense stretches. Just remember that you have (often) not put your body in such joint positions for a very long time. Your body (connective tissue, muscles, tendons, etc.) has simply adjusted to the amount of movement you actively use and now needs to readjust. Give your body the time it needs. The last thing you want to risk is injuries that can affect your training and everyday life.


Be relaxed: An extremely important aspect of flexibility training is breathing. I will only briefly touch on this complex topic here. In short: calm, fluid breathing is relaxing – holding your breath and spasming is stimulating and activates the sympathetic nervous system (reminder: fight or flight mode). Always try to take deep and fluid breaths when stretching. This signals to your body that it can relax and allow deep stretches. A simple tip: Inhale loosely and go deeper into the stretch with the exhalation. Repeat until you reach a point where you can feel the stretch.

Be consistent: Consistency is key! The body adapts best when a stimulus is applied with sufficient intensity, sufficiently often. But how often is enough? That depends on what your goals are: The higher your goals are – for example, doing the splits – the more often and stronger, the lower – for example, maintaining your own flexibility – the less often the stimuli may be exercised. In general: spend as much time as possible in positions that promote your mobility. Examples: Don’t just use the squat as a strength exercise, but for example spend time in a deep squat while reading (see Ido Portals Squat Challenge), next time eat in a straddle seat or simply hang from the door frame and improve your overhead mobility at the same time. Again, it’s Use it, or Lose it!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCmHOTN_FIw]

4. summary

Finally, I would like to give a brief overview of the entire article and summarise the essentials. There are different terms around the topic of the article: mobility, stretching ability and flexibility. Each of these terms describes different components of mobility. The physiological mechanisms behind the topic are not yet 100% scientifically proven, but they already give important clues as to which structures are involved and how much they can influence mobility. A distinction is made between different forms of mobility, including active/passive, local/global and static/dynamic. This is important because it can be used to derive methods of mobility training and their effects. On the one hand, there are endogenous factors that influence mobility, such as age or gender, and on the other hand, exogenous factors such as time of day or fatigue after exertion. The positive effects of flexibility training are far-reaching. These include the realisation of new movements, the release of tension and positive effects on strength, speed and even endurance. Unfortunately, there are still many myths about flexibility training. For example, it is falsely claimed that stretching before or after training serves as a muscle soreness prophylaxis, whereas the opposite is often the case. Finally, I have shown what flexibility training can look like. There are different methods with different areas of application. The quintessence of the article: this topic cannot be generalised so simply. Depending on individual goals and conditions, there are different approaches and strategies. Listen to your body and take a relaxed approach.

“Movement makes you mobile – and mobility can set many things in motion.”
– Paul Haschek

I hope you enjoyed my article and that you were able to extract a lot of information relevant to you. If you have any questions or would like me to help you with your flexibility training, just drop me a line at info@nilteisner.de.