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Principles of Flexibility

The Principle of Resistance Flexibility Training

Contracting and resisting while stretching is the central principle to Resistance Flexibility. It is usually best to begin in a position where the muscles are as short as possible and move into a position where the muscles are as long as possible while resisting. Do the opposite of this when you strength train a muscle. Most of the stretch actually occurs during the movement and not at the end of the range, which is commonly assumed.

There are four ways to Resistance Flexibility train by resisting and tensing: passively, dynamically, isometrically, or with assistance from other people or machines.

The Principle of True Flexibility

Most everyone thinks range of motion is a measure of flexibility, but it is not. Many bone rotational substitutions or muscle substitutions can occur that produce an apparent fabulous range of motion when the person is not truly flexible. What then is true flexibility? A muscle is only truly flexible to the point where it can continue to maximally resist while being lengthened. When a muscle can no longer contract maximally, it is being over-stretched and is subject to injury. Increased flexibility translates into increased biomechanical efficiency as well as increases in power, speed, and acceleration. Flexible muscles are much less likely to be injured and more likely to stay youthful longer. A muscle is not flexible if it cannot contract at any point while being elongated, regardless of range. True flexibility is the highest correlating factor for athletic and artistic success.

The Principle of Optimal Stretch/Contraction Length

It is not well known that the ability of a muscle to shorten is directly proportional to its ability to lengthen. Therefore, limited flexibility translates into limited shortening capacity which is an obstacle to achieving excellence in performance.

Maximum Flexibility = Maximum Contraction

If the resting length of a muscle is this long:

Resting Length of Muscle

And if maximal flexibility length can be achieved:

Maximal Flexibility Length of Muscle

Then this contraction shortening length is possible:

Maximal Contraction Shortening Length of Muscle


If again, the resting length of a muscle is this long:

Resting Length of Muscle

And sub-maximal flexibility is only 25% greater than resting length:

Sub-Maximal Flexibility Length of Muscle

Then only 25% contraction shortening can occur:

Sub-Maximal Contraction Shortening Length of Muscle

The Principle of Balancing Muscles

Balancing muscles are located directly through the bone across from each other and have opposite directions of action. In Western anatomy, these same muscles are called agonist and antagonist of one another. Because the sixteen meridian muscle groups balance as eight pairs of muscle groups, they are called Balancing Meridian Muscle Groups. The balancing muscles are dependent on each other to make possible maximum shortening and lengthening movements, because as one side of the body shortens the other lengthens. But because both the strengthening and stretching of any muscle depends on the flexibility of its balancing muscle, the balancing muscle group is always the determining factor in developing the strength and flexibility of the muscle (assuming there is no unusual damage to the muscle group you are trying to strengthen or stretch).

Example of Balancing Muscle Groups

Aspect of Body
Target and Balancing MMG
Muscle Group Locations
Meridian Schematic Circles

The Principle of Opposing Muscle Groups

The muscles that are perpendicular to one another are called opposing muscle groups (to be distinguished from balancing muscle groups that are located directly through the bone across from each other and have opposite directions of action). The action of opposing muscle groups is surprising. Their level of strength and flexibility govern the proper rotation of the muscle group that you are stretching. For example, the muscles on the outside of your thighs determine the correct rotation of your thigh when you are using your hip flexors.

Stretch the superficial opposing MMG to troubleshoot the target muscle group. Stretch the true opposing MMG to develop the high personality traits necessary for optimal functioning and development of the target MMG.

Example of Opposing Muscle Groups

True Opposing MMG
Target and
Superficial Opposing MMG
Meridian Schematic Circles
Meridian Schematic Circles

The 45 Degree Arch Principle of Muscle Action

Each muscle group generally moves your body about a 45 degree arch. So when you either strength train or flexibility train a muscle, you need to move that body part across that range. For example, when you stretch the lateral hamstring by flexing, adducting, and inwardly rotating the thigh, this will need to be done in many repeats throughout the 45 degree arch in order to stretch all the fibers of the muscle.

The Principle of the Path of Greatest Resistance

The path of greatest resistance is the direction that is the most difficult to move your muscle in.

While stretching, you will find that there are many different angles and directions to move your muscles while contracting and elongating them. For optimal gains in flexibility, resistance stretch the muscle at different angles and directions until you find the path where you resist the most. This is the tightest movement pattern of the muscle and the best area to target while stretching.

The Principle of the Path of Least Resistance

The path of least resistance is the direction that is the easiest for your muscle to move in.

While strengthening, you will find that there are many different angles and directions to move your muscles while contracting and shortening them. For optimal gains in strength, resistance strength train the muscle at different angles and directions until you find the path where you resist the least. This is the path that the muscles want to move in while strengthening and will insure that the weakest movement pattern of the muscle is strengthened in exactly the way that it needs to be strengthened.

The Principle of Action vs. the Stretch of the Muscles

The action of any muscle can only be accurately defined by including one of each of the following: flexion or extension, abduction or adduction, and inward or outward rotation. For example, the stomach meridian muscle group's action is to flex, abduct and outwardly rotate the thigh. Therefore, you would need to extend, adduct, and inwardly rotate the thigh to stretch those meridian muscle groups.

The Principle of Strength and Flexibility

Because muscles contract eccentrically while stretching and because the fascia is impregnated along muscles and not just around it, it is essential that the muscles be strong enough to contract while being stretched in order to engage the fascia during the movement. If the muscle isn't strong enough to contract maximally, both in generating tension and in shortening, the fascia cannot be renovated or reconstructed sufficiently to produce upgrades in flexibility.

It takes two to six times the force to stretch a muscle as it does to strengthen it. Surprisingly, the beginning of the strength phase results in increases in flexibility because the muscle is elongated while contracting.

The Principle of Aerobic and Flexibility

I have discovered from working with Olympic and professional athletes that aerobic capacity has not only a very high correlation with recovery, but that it is also a prerequisite to being able to do the number of repeats and sets of resistance flexibility training necessary to upgrade muscles. The more aerobically healthy a muscle is, the more endurance a person has to continue to resistance flexibility train those muscles. The high oxidative state of aerobically healthy muscles results in the most rapid changes in flexibility and strength.

The Principle of Nutrient Rich Food and Flexibility

What you eat is what you body is made of, including the water your drink and the freshness of the air you breathe. The longer a person has had a nutrient dense organic/biodynamic food diet, the greater their flexibility. How they are capable of digesting that food is another enormous factor and is determined by the flexibility and strength of the meridian muscle groups associated with digestion, including the stomach, small intestine, gall bladder, liver, spleen/pancreas, and large intestine. Other organs can also have significant effects on digestion including the sexual organs, thymus, and appendix.

The Principle of Concomitance

A concomitance is a unique form of association between two things that specifies that both have parallel affects on one another. These concomitant associations have an inseparable relationship, not a casual relationship, but a one-to-one relationship. This means that when you affect one of these two things, the other is always affected. In TCM, there is an explicit concomitance between specific muscles, organs, and tissues besides other concomitance. For example, the muscles on the front center of the body are concomitant with the sexual organs, endocrine system, as well as with the air element, fall, etc.

The Principle of Reflection

Resistance Flexibility exercises bring practitioners into the realization that their lives are reflected in their body in very specific and predictable ways. Improving the health of your body or life affects the other. Upgrading your psychological or spiritual approach to life improves ones flexibility.

The health and sustainability of the planet is a reflection of your personal health and sustainability.

— Cooley

The Principle of Genius

The genetic personality type presents itself to the world as a genius. The high and low traits of the types administer their type of genius. Being capable of connecting to the genius in others connects you to your genius. The genius in each person has global aspirations and capacities and involves the world in their specific brand of intelligence.

Energy Flow Trellis

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), energy flows from one meridian muscle pathway to the next in a very specific order. In TCM this order is called the 'energy cycle'. This order is determined by the depth of the muscles in the body and begins with the muscles associated with the gall bladder, with the next always being its balancing muscle group, in this case liver, and then on through all the rest. The cycle always includes two lower body, then two upper body meridian muscle groups, and then repeats two more of each. Ultimately all 16 have been completed.

Energy Flow Trellis

Energy Flow Series

When you Resistance Flexibility train, the energy flow series takes you through all sixteen muscle groups in a specific order. This order brings energy from one meridian muscle group and its associated organ to the next.

Energy Flow Circle

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