Mastering the Splits: How to Achieve It
by john harris fitness
Can you learn to do splits as an adult if you couldn't do them as a child? Absolutely, it's possible, albeit more challenging and time-consuming. Like many fitness goals, persistence is key, even when setbacks occur or progress seems stagnant. Avoid pushing yourself too hard too quickly, as this could lead to injury.
Two Types of Splits
There are two types of splits: the front split (longitudinal split or ladies' split) and the side split (straddle split or men's split). The ease of each type depends on your anatomical characteristics. Some individuals might struggle with the side split due to anatomical limitations, while others may find the front split easier. Leg rotation often plays a significant role in the side split. If you encounter resistance or hip blockage during the side split, gently rotate your legs outward to increase flexibility.
Time to Master Splits
Beware of programs promising split achievement within a set timeframe; these claims are generally inaccurate. The time it takes depends on your physical attributes and training consistency. While a young individual with a sports background and good hip flexibility might achieve the splits in days, others might take months or even years. Most people can eventually achieve splits with persistence and dedication.
Warm-Up is Essential
Perform stretching after your main workout when your muscles, especially in the legs, are warm. This minimizes the risk of injury. Note that intensive strength training without stretching can reduce flexibility. Combining proper strength training with stretching is beneficial.
When to Avoid Practice
Pause practice if you're injured or experiencing severe muscle soreness. Pushing through these conditions might exacerbate the situation or lead to longer recovery times. Listen to your body and wait until you feel fully recovered. Overenthusiastic attempts to progress rapidly can result in strains during stretching. Prioritize consistency over intensity.
Effective Preparatory Exercises
For the side split, mobilize your hips before attempting the actual position. Lie on your back with your buttocks against a wall and open your legs to the side. To gently stretch the side split, sit with your legs open and slide gradually into deeper stretches as tension subsides. Use the wall for counter-pressure during seated stretches. Explore the pancake stretch by reaching your arms forward and leaning to each side.
For the front split, practice various lunge variations. Lie on your back and pull one leg toward your chest using your hands or a flexible training band. Alternate between extending and bending the leg multiple times while holding each stretch for an extended duration. Maintain a level pelvis and prevent outward leg rotation.
You can help yourself with yoga blocks or similar elevations when you go into the splits. Two chairs to your left and right can also help support you with your hands. This way you can relieve the pressure and hold the position longer. Once you are sitting down, pay attention to your hip position. Initially, the hip of the back leg is often turned out. Work on turning it straight. You can rotate your torso to the opposite side and specifically focus on stretching the back leg. When you bend your back leg, it should point straight up. This way you can control your position and additionally stretch your thigh even better.
Common mistakes when learning the splits
It is much more important to stretch in a good position than to sit quickly on the floor. If you're not there yet, don't force yourself. Practice regularly and you will get further and further. If you're just a few inches short, don't force yourself down. Don't work with extra weights. You will probably regret it the next day and have to give up the splits for some time. Keep your back straight, even if you can only support yourself with your arms behind your legs. Keep your hips straight, even if it means you come down less far in the front splits. It pays to pay attention to a correct position.
There is strength in rest, so proceed slowly and carefully. The most common mistakes are overambition, a crooked back and a twisted pelvis.