Rayna Vallandingham began doing taekwondo when she was 2 years previous. By age 6, she’d earned her first black belt. At this time, at 20, she’s a 13-time world champion of the Korean type of martial arts identified for its punching and powerhouse kicking strategies. (Taekwondo roughly interprets to “the artwork of kicking and punching.”)
“Within the very starting, my dad and mom put me within the sport as a result of I used to be simply actually shy, and I believe they may inform that I wanted one thing,” says Vallandingham, who lives and trains in Los Angeles. “Instantly, I simply cherished it. I felt at dwelling, and each single day, as an alternative of watching Dora, I needed to go to the dojo.”
“As an alternative of watching Dora, I needed to go to the dojo.”
Vallandingham credit her success, largely, to her consistency through the years, and that features commonly hitting the health club. “It’s a lifestyle,” she says. “It isn’t solely instructing your physique actions and being in synchronicity together with your physique, but additionally similar to the psychological side of it.”
Mastering the artwork of taekwondo, which includes the power to carry out head-high kicks, in addition to spinning leap kicks, plus punches, so as to take down an opponent, will not be simple. (Understatement.) It takes an amazing quantity of power, flexibility, and energy. “Of the three, I believe power and adaptability are the highest two,” Vallandingham says.
Sadly, she discovered the exhausting approach that there isn’t a quick observe to the kind of leg muscle extensibility (or elongation) required to excel at her sport. She recollects a time, early in her coaching when, much like ballet dancers, the college of thought was that you could possibly power flexibility by pushing previous your finish vary of movement. “We used to have individuals stand on my legs and power my knees to return down in butterfly stretch,” she says. “I’ve everlasting injury to my physique—I’ve tendonitis [because of this].”
She now has a a lot extra sustainable strategy to her coaching that helps her keep on prime of her recreation, whereas avoiding damage.
How a taekwondo world champion builds leg power and adaptability
Earlier than Vallandingham even thinks about selecting up a weight, she takes time to stretch by doing a dynamic heat up, a type of stretching that helps elevate her physique temp and elevate her coronary heart fee, growing blood circulation to her muscular tissues, so that they are ready to fireplace up as soon as she will get transferring.
When she’s power coaching, Vallandingham says she likes to give attention to supersets, which includes performing two strikes back-to-back that concentrate on the identical muscle teams so as to double down on their positive factors. First, she’ll do a mobility train to take all of the joints she plans to load up via their full ranges of movement. (FYI, mobility is product of flexibility and power.) Then she’s able to raise.
One in every of her favourite workout routines for robust legs is a goblet squat. To arrange for it, Vallandingham will stand together with her ft shoulder-width aside, fold ahead till she will be able to slide her palms beneath her soles (you could possibly additionally maintain your ankles or calves), then bends her knees, decreasing her butt towards the ground whereas lifting her chest, coming right into a deep squat. She’ll bend and lengthen her legs a number of occasions on this place. Then, it is on to the principle occasion, holding a weight in her palms whereas bending down right into a deep squat.
Find out how to carry out a goblet squat:
One other approach Vallandingham likes to coach for flexibility, mobility, and power concurrently is by performing workout routines on an unstable floor. “I really like using a Bosu ball—they’re just about in each single health club,” she says. She likes to face on one whereas executing lower-body actions like squats or deadlifts (in addition to kicks) for the reason that shakiness they create causes her muscular tissues to activate greater than if she did the identical issues whereas standing on the ground.
The key to Vallandingham’s explosive kicks
Energy is a product of power and pace. So when Vallandingham is coaching for lower-body energy, she switches up her tempo when performing workout routines, in order that she’s transferring quicker on the trouble and slower whereas resetting for the subsequent rep. Say she’s doing goblet squats, for instance: This might appear to be decreasing down in a depend of three, then snapping again up in a depend of 1.
“If I am constructing energy, I am additionally sustaining management of my actions,” she says. “That is the factor I really feel like lots of people who’re studying tips on how to generate energy overlook—sustaining management throughout it’s so essential.”
Why Vallandingham saves flexibility coaching for after her exercises
If you happen to took a frozen spear of asparagus and tried to bend it in half, it’d break—however when you allowed it to thaw out first, you could possibly fold it over, no downside. This identical rule applies to your physique and adaptability coaching—research exhibits that holding stretches (one of the simplest ways to work on flexibility) is the worst thing you can do when your muscles are cold. “Any time you begin to stretch [cold muscles], that causes a stretch reflex that will get your muscle tissue to activate a protecting mechanism to not over-stretch,” Eric Owens, musculoskeletal knowledgeable and co-founder of Delos Remedy, beforehand told Well+Good.
Because of this Vallandingham saves static stretching for after the remainder of her exercise when her physique is already warmed up. One in every of her favourite methods to work on lower-body flexibility is by mendacity on the ground together with her legs up the wall after which permitting them to open out right into a facet break up. “I let gravity do its work as a result of that is my physique telling me, okay, that is the place we’re at,” she says. “My hips are opening on their very own, and I am not having to power something.”
Above all else, when you’re trying to lengthen and strengthen your leg muscular tissues, Vallandingham says there’s one factor it’s a must to observe diligently: perseverance. “Consistency is a lot extra essential than depth for attaining most positive factors,” she says. “Benefit from the journey. Do not be overly exhausting on your self; do not apply an excessive amount of stress.” And never simply to your joints.