When your legs are lifted like this, your hips are flexed. Or in gymnastics terms, your hips are closed (meaning, the front of your hips are closed/flexed).
You’re probably sitting right now, right? Well, guess what. That means your hips are closed and passively flexed to their max. So the hip-flexors, like the psoas muscles, get extremely tight, from being passively stuck in their tightest position for hours on end. This is why sitting sucks a lot. It also sucks cause your glutes are on vacation and the knees are bent, causing the hamstrings to be in their tightest position for hours on end. No wonder we all have tight hamstrings and no understanding of how to activate the glutes.
If you undo all this garbage (do the couch stretch) and work on actively being able to raise your legs straight to develop actual power there, then you will be able to pass this active flexibility test.
But if you aren’t able to do the exercise, then, well… it’s probably due to the effect of years of sitting. And it’s important cause that psoas muscle is like… the foundation of your core. It’s what connects your lumbar spine down to your inner thighs (kind of crazy, click here to see what the psoas looks like).
Follow Up Question: What’s the couch stretch?
This stretch opens up the front of your hips like no other. I do this almost daily. It’s one of the isolated stretches before I do my splits. (I started a 90-days splits challenge and my splits routine is here if you wanna get more flexy than your girlfriend, bwahaha.)
Follow Up Question: This may sound silly, but if we are sitting with closed/shortened hip-flexors all day doesn’t it seem like it would be easier to shorten the hip-flexor when pulling the leg up to 90 degrees (because it’s already so used to sitting flexed)? I realize in reality this is not the case I guess I’m just confused at to why.
The muscle is literally sitting in the tightest position possible, and it’s doing so passively. Just because it’s in that position, doesn’t mean it’s building any strength in it.
You’re not in that position all day because you’re trying to lift that muscle into the position (like you are in an L-sit). It’s in the shortest, most contracted position possible, and it’s very difficult to make a muscle generate even MORE power (power that it doesn’t have to begin with), when it’s at its end range of motion. This is why this is an “active” flexibility test. Active Flexibility, meaning, you not only have the flexibility in the antagonistic muscles to get into that position, but also have the ability to actually use that range of motion and generate power at that range.
Let me give you a good example: Just because you can passively get into the side splits, means you have the passive flexibility in your adductors (inner thigh muscles) to let them get into that position. But to have active flexibility in your side splits, means you could control your descend into them, and some people can even press themselves back out!
Follow Up Question: If this requires not only flexibility but also a strong hip flexor, and I know mine is weak, how do I strengthen it?
Floor L-sit is your answer for developing very strong hip flexors. Here is my L-sit tutorial: