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Primitive Stretches

Danny Kavadlo deep down squat

My two favorite stretches are the most primitive ones I know. So primitive, in fact, that both monkeys and children do them on a regular basis. These simple moves provide an surprisingly effective and warm up, cool down or basic mobility drill.

The first is the deep down squat. This is exactly what it sounds like: a classic bodyweight squat performed low down, to its fullest expression, ultimately placing the back of the thigh in contact with the calf at the bottom range of motion. This squat is not performed for reps, as the body remains relaxed and close to the ground for the duration of the stretch. A certain degree of dorsiflexion is necessary to maintain balance.

It’s important to begin a deep down squat with your feet at a comfortable distance apart. Because bone structures vary from individual to individual, feel free to adjust and experiment with the footing. You may need to point your toes out slightly, which is fine too. Take your time. This movement is not only a great hip opener, it also stretches the spine erectors, calves, quads, glutes and more. I personally do it every day.

My other favorite stretch is a simple, relaxed bar hang. Again we can learn a lot from the primates. Simply grab a pull-up bar (or tree, door frame, whatever) and hang. Allow your shoulders to open and your spine to lengthen.
Danny Kavadlo bar hang stretch

It is of note that, like the aforementioned squat, the bar hang can also be performed as an active exercise (which has numerous benefits in its own right), but for the purposes of stretching, I am referring to an inactive hang, meaning the bottom of a pull-up position, with your shoulders relaxed and unpacked, and your spine fully lengthened. The longer you hang, the more the vertebrae separate and the muscles elongate. Gravity can help.

These two fundamental stretches enhance mobility, increase body awareness and ultimately contribute to overall strength gains. They help alleviate shoulder pain, low back discomfort, sciatica, headaches and hip issues. We can all benefit from incorporating more stretching into our lives and these humble examples are a great place to start. We all did these movements as kids at the dawn of our lives, just as early man did them at the dawn of our species. These stretches are in our DNA. It’s time we got back to basics.

Mobility makes a difference, so train hard and stretch deep. Have a long life and be healthy my friends!
Danny Kavadlo YEAH!

Danny Kavadlo Diamond-Cut AbsDanny Kavadlo is one of the world’s foremost authorities on calisthenics, nutrition and personal training. He is the author of the Dragon Door titles Diamond-Cut Abs and Everybody Needs Training. Danny is known for his minimalist philosophy, simple approach and motivational talents.
A true in-person experience, Danny is a Master Instructor for Dragon Door’s Progressive Calisthenics Certification. He has been featured in the NY Times, TRAIN, Men’s Fitness and is a regular contributor to Learn more about Danny at