By  Shane Dowd, CES, CMP


Ever tried touching your toes first thing in the morning and felt like a rusty Tin Man?

Well, today, you’re about to discover the 4 secrets to “grease those joints” and become as bendy as a gymnast —no warm-up needed.

In this article, we're diving into the truth about cold flexibility. Keep reading, and I’ll show you exactly how I:

  • Got flexible enough to do the splits WITHOUT a warmup
  • And how you can, too.

Spoiler: It's not magic; it's science!


What is Cold Flexibility?

Cold flexibility is being flexible without a warm-up. 

And no, it's not just for gymnasts, contortionists, or flexibility freaks. 

For example, I’m about as genetically NOT GIFTED for flexibility as they come. 

In fact, I’ve got a type of bone shape in my hips called “cam morphology” that usually so severely restricts hip range of motion that people try to get surgery to fix it. 

But despite those challenges, I achieved a decent level of cold flexibility like this:

I took this photo without ANY warmup:


 And this photo was also taken with 60 seconds of preparation (we timed it): 

Pretty cool, huh?

But what about you?

Why should you care about cold flexibility?

Because life doesn't always give you a warm-up!


What To Expect When Trying to “Unlock” Cold Flexibility 

When you begin flexibility training, especially as a stiffer type of person, there tends to be a large discrepancy between the range of motion you can display when warm vs. without any warm-up. 

Proper flexibility training requires hard work, and we may feel sore whenever we push our bodies past what is naturally comfortable. Feeling sore all the time is not very conducive to expressing our maximum flexibility on command.

However, don’t mistake feeling sore or even more stiff when you are cold as a sign that you are not making flexibility progress. This is a natural response to the body adapting to the stimulus. The harsh truth is that there is no shortcut to turning your true physiological end range into the range of motion you can access any time of day. 

The greater our flexibility becomes when warm, the better carryover it will have to our cold flexibility. This also works the other way around. If you notice your cold flexibility is feeling more accessible, then you can bet your flexibility when fully warmed up will also be better.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a linear process, and it’s more like a rollercoaster. There will be days when you feel stiffer than normal, and you may go for weeks or months where you feel like you aren’t making any progress.

But then, you make a giant leap in progress out of nowhere, and the body finally grants you more range. This is why setting your expectations for progress over years instead of months will keep you committed to the process. 

I cover my entire 12+ year flexibility journey in great detail in this video:

Here's the simple truth...

The better your flexibility gets over time, the more your cold range will slowly follow behind it.

Although it doesn’t always work out perfectly like that...

For instance, say you’ve just been able to sit in a deep squat butt to heels after training your hip and ankle flexibility for an hour 2 days a week for 6 months. You may have to practice this for another 6 months to convince your nervous system to trust you to access it on command.

For me, as a SUPER stiff man, it took a long time (as this photo shows):


The most important aspect is having a systematic approach to training flexibility and using the right techniques for “tin people like us” to ensure we are making progress in our warm flexibility.

From there, we can adjust our training to bridge the gap between what we can display with and without a warm-up. 

For example, just the other day, I stumbled across this picture of myself and Dr. Garrett (one of the coaches in our “VIP Mentorship Program” where we help people with hip pain.

I sent this picture to Garrett, and here's what he said:


As Garrett says in that text message, he remembers that, even back in 2018, I could drop into my middle splits without much warmup. 

To be clear: it took a TON of work to go from “stiff-guy-with-hip-impingement” to “cold splits guy", but there IS an exact process to it.

So how did I do it? What’s the science behind all this?


The Science of Cold Flexibility

Let's get a bit nerdy. 

First, you need to know this: Your muscles, tendons, and fascia ALL affect how flexible you are. 

Those not naturally gifted with flexibility (like myself) may have more dense connective tissue and fascia. This dense tissue doesn’t budge with regular old static passive stretching.


These “tin people” require more force and time under tension to make noticeable changes, whereas someone with less dense and more pliable connective tissue will have an easier time melting into their end ranges. 

Some of those people even become flexibility teachers because they can do impressive feats of flexibility and contortion


Unfortunately, we mere mortals may need different techniques than these genetically gifted people...

When it comes to expressing flexibility, there's a difference between dynamic and static flexibility.

Dynamic flexibility is when you actively move your limb to an end-range position in open space.

Think about classic strength training exercises through a full range of motion. This is a form of stretching, too, as long as the intent is to go to your end range each rep. 

In fact, some exercises like Jefferson Curls take full range of motion strength training to the next level and can help supercharge your flexibility. 


We can categorize this as loaded stretching, which we will touch on later.

Dynamic flexibility can also be done at different speeds, depending on what you need the range for. 

For example, martial artists need to be able to demonstrate flexibility at high speeds. This is where “bounce stretching” or ballistic stretching comes into play.

Static flexibility, however, refers to a stretched position where the limbs aren’t moving… at least to the naked eye.

Of course, in reality, it’s basically impossible to be truly static, especially if we are sliding deeper into the stretch over time. 

Some examples of static flexibility are relaxed passive stretching (which doesn’t always work for the stiffer type), isometric stretching (like the Van Damme splits), where you actively resist the stretch with the muscles at end-range (and contract-relax methods where you move deeper into a range after contracting the stretched muscles.


Demonstrating your flexibility cold depends on your strength at end ranges.

So, your nervous system has to trust you to enter those ranges whenever and wherever. Your nervous system also needs to be accustomed to generating flexibility both dynamically and statically. 

So, what's the secret sauce to accomplish all this? 

It's a cocktail of:

  1. Targeted tissue work to soften up your super-dense tissues,
  2. THEN Ballistic Stretching and
  3. Loaded Stretching.


The Top 3 “Cold Flexibility” Techniques Unveiled


The 1st technique for cold flexibility is NOT a stretching technique at all...

It’s “Targeted Tissue Work” which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Deep Myofascial Release Work (like Rolfing)
  • Cross-Fiber and Longitudinal Friction techniques
  • Active Release Technique (ART)

These deeper muscle massage techniques are usually only reserved for athletes...

But I’ve successfully practiced and taught them to all types of people for all types of purposes, including helping people overcome hip impingement, heal chronic injuries that haven’t responded to other treatments, and, yes, even achieve cold flexibility.


The 2nd technique for Cold Flexibility is Ballistic Stretching. 

Think of it as lightly bouncing into your stretch. 

Ballistic stretching trains our tissues to go to end range with control under high speeds. It also profoundly affects our fascial system to make long-term changes in flexibility. 

One of the benefits of ballistic style stretching is that it allows you to spend more time under tension at end-range because we are constantly bouncing in and out of our deepest position. 

This style of stretching is why the Chinese monks can do the splits straight out of bed and put their whole foot in their mouth on command. 

But be careful; this isn't for beginners!

That’s why, in my “Flexibility University” curriculum, this is one of the last programs I teach. 

First, you master the basics, THEN you go for “badass!”


The 3rd technique for Cold Flexibility is Loaded Stretching / Strength Stretching.

Ever tried using weights to stretch? You should! 

Loaded stretching allows you to build strength at end-range and is the go-to method for stiffer folks to increase their range of motion. 

This is because the added load helps assist us into and beyond our normal end range. The more strength we build at our end range, the longer our flexibility sticks with us.

The possibilities to add load to our stretching are literally endless...

For example, check out this playlist of videos related to Loaded/Ballistic Stretching:

BONUS Technique for "Cold Flexibility" 

A bonus technique for cold flexibility is Dynamic Active Flexibility. 

This refers to the range of motion we can actively move into using the strength of the muscles on the opposing side of the stretched tissues, known as the agonists. 

Think about the classic hamstring stretch laying on your back using a strap. You can get beyond 90 degrees with the strap, but as soon as you let go, the leg drops back to 90 or less.

If you want to demonstrate flexibility cold, no matter where you are, do you bring your strap to achieve those positions? Probably not. Instead, we have to train the strength of these agonist muscles to bring us into a stretch actively. 

Here’s a quick video of how you can put this into practice.

So now you know how to strengthen your muscles to lengthen the other side. 

But remember, we can’t demonstrate high levels of active flexibility if we do not have it passively first. 

So, use the first 3 techniques for cold flexibility TARGETED TISSUE WORK + BALLISTIC STRETCHING + LOADED STRETCHING to “release the brakes” and then use the bonus technique (active flexibility) to complete the package. 


The Do's and Don'ts of Cold Flexibility.

Given that cold flexibility, aka nearly permanent flexibility, is one of those “peak of the mountain” goals, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few “do’s and don’t’s” before you start this epic journey.

  1. Do: Stretch with intensity. Treating your flexibility like strength training will mean you need rest between sessions. 1-3 times per week may be all you need.
  2. Do: Use your range of motion often in your daily life. Your nervous system will be more inclined to keep the ranges you are building if it knows you will use it frequently. Spend time in a squat throughout your day, or substitute time in a chair with sitting on the floor in different positions. Better yet, adopt a movement practice that has you expressing end range often, such as climbing, yoga, or even a martial art. The point is to use your ranges less intensely when you aren’t doing your structured “strength-based” flexibility training.
  3. Safety first. Don't go bouncing into a split and blame me if you pull something! Even though the thought of having cold flexibility sounds cool and will get some solid likes on Instagram, you will never get there quickly if you injure yourself. Make sure you are properly warmed up, hydrated, and well-recovered if you want to be in this game for the long run.
  4. Do not stretch if you are in pain. Muscular discomfort is different than sharp stabbing pain in either the muscles or joints. Listening to your body is extremely important with flexibility training.  


The last thing to say is this: Consistency is Key: 

You can't just stretch once and become Mr. Flexy-Fantastic...

If you are naturally stiff or just beginning your flexibility journey, it may be a long, bumpy road.  

Luckily, anyone can get there if you have a well-thought-out structured approach and use the right techniques for your body. 

I did it. 30,000+ of my students around the world are doing it. And so can you.

If you found this video/article enlightening, check out my 45-day Ballistic Stretching and Loaded Stretching programs at

 And, if you’re looking for 1-on-1 help fixing injuries or getting flexible, schedule a free, 15-minute call with me to see if you qualify for our 1-on-1 VIP mentorship program.

And, as always, remember, you’re just 1 step away from building (or rebuilding) your perfect body.




About The Author

Shane Dowd, CES, CMP, is the owner/founder of He is also a sports performance & mobility coach specializing in injury prevention and flexibility for athletes.



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