June Flexibility Challenge – Week 1: Flexible Hamstrings + Hip Flexors

It’s time to get bendy! To kick off Week 1 of the June Flexibility Challenge, we’re focusing on building more flexible hamstrings and hip flexors. 

Many athletes struggle with chronically tight hamstrings, and that can inhibit your workouts – not to mention making you really uncomfortable in any kind of straight-leg position.

Some of our favorite 12 Minute Athlete exercises like pistol squats, front splits, and mountain climbers rely on mobility in the hips and hamstrings to truly get the best out of the workout.

So we’re going to open them up to see what a difference more flexible hamstrings can make!

Getting more flexible hamstrings might seem like a long shot now, but do this exercise routine at least three times per week in addition to your regular workouts and see if you notice a change!

Follow along with the 12 Minute Athlete community by posting pictures of your progress on our Facebook group  with the tags @12minuteathlete and #12MAflexibility.

Remember, one lucky participant will win my favorite foam roller and a signed copy of the 12 Minute Athlete book.

Visit the main challenge page to download the workout calendar to help you stay on track with your exercises.

Oh, and don’t forget to warm up first! You can either do these stretches immediately after your workout or after a short dynamic warm up. You should never stretch completely cold.

Flexibility Challenge Week 1 Exercises

Aim to complete the following sequence three to five times during the week. Hold each stretch for 45-60 seconds, and complete two to three rounds.

  • Pike stretch
  • Weighted pike stretch
  • Splits Series (half splits, low lunge, full splits)

Here’s How to do the Exercises:

Pike Stretch

12 Minute Athlete Flexibility Challenge - Pike stretch

  • Sit in the ground with your legs stretched out in front of you.
  • Gently lean over, pulling your core in as you do so, and reach for your toes.
  • Relax your head and neck down and go as far as you can while feeling a gentle stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Breathe into the stretch and lower down further, grabbing onto the back of your heels and gently pulling down if you can.
  • Hold for 45-60 seconds, then gently roll back up to sitting.

Advanced Stretch: Wall Pike Stretch

  • Stand facing a wall or something similar with your feet together.
  • Gently lean over, pressing your upper back and shoulders against the wall. Relax your head and neck down.
  • The closer you are to the wall, the deeper the stretch will be.
  • Hold for 45-60 seconds, then gently release the press against the wall. Round your way back to a standing position.

Weighted Pike Stretch

12 Minute Athlete Flexibility Challenge - Weighted pike stretch

  • Stand on the edge of a bench, plyometric box, or something similar holding onto something heavy (a heavy backpack, dumbbell, medicine ball, etc. will all work).
  • Engage your core and press down through the soles of your feet. Gently begin to shift your torso forward and down, bringing your chest closer to your thighs.
  • As you fold forward, bring your arms forward and let the shoulders relax. Allow the weight to assist your shoulders and chest down. Relax your head and neck and breathe into the stretch.
  • Hold for 45-60 seconds, then gently round your way back to a standing position.

Splits Series

This is what I call the splits series and is how I achieved a full front split. If getting a front split isn’t on your list of goals, feel free to do only the half split and low lunge and skip the full split exercise.

Short Low Lunge

12 Minute Athlete Flexibility Challenge - Low lunge

  • Start in an upright kneeling position.
  • Lift your right foot off the floor and step your right foot forward, placing the sole of your foot on the floor.
  • Engage your core by scooping your belly and low abdominal muscles up and in.
  • With control, begin to bend further into your right knee, allowing the knee to move forward and breathing into the stretch.
  • Continue to press through the sole of your right foot and keep your low abdominal muscles active as you lean deeper into the stretch.
  • Hold for 45-60 seconds, then switch sides.

Half Split

12 Minute Athlete Flexibility Challenge - Half splits

  • From your knees, bend your right knee up towards your chest and stretch your leg forward.
  • Plant your right heel down with the leg outstretched, and point or flex your toes up towards your face. Flexing your toes will increase the stretch.
  • Bring your hands to your hips, to the ground, or to yoga blocks.
  • As you press through your right heel, gently begin to lower your chest towards your right thigh. The closer your chest comes to your thigh, the deeper the stretch.
  • Hold for 45-60 seconds, then switch sides.

Advanced Stretch: Full Splits

12 Minute Athlete Flexibility Challenge - Full splits

  • From your half split, begin to stretch one leg forward (heel down, toes pointing up) and one leg back (top of the foot down towards the ground). Move slowly, noticing when the stretch begins to feel intense – and breathe there.
  • For an added stretch, place yoga blocks underneath your calves and allow your hips to settle down towards the floor. For a less intense stretch, place a yoga block or cushion underneath the hips.
  • Hold for 45-60 seconds, then switch sides.

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