Learning the splits - how to do it
by john harris fitness
can you still learn to do the splits in adulthood if you couldn't do them as a child? Yes, of course you can, it's just a bit more difficult and takes longer, but of course you can do it. As with many athletic goals, it's important to stick with it, even if you take a step backwards or get stuck. You shouldn't try to do too much too fast, because that's how you can hurt yourself.
2 types of splits
There are 2 types of splits, the front splits (lengthwise splits / ladies splits) and the side splits (straddle / men's splits). Which one is easier for you also depends on your anatomical conditions. Some people find it difficult or impossible to do the side splits purely because of their anatomy, and some find it much easier to do the front splits than others. In the side splits, the rotation of the legs often plays a major role. If it doesn't work and locks in the hips, you can try to carefully rotate the legs outward so that you can move forward.
How long does it take to do the splits?
One thing up front, programs that promise you a split in a certain amount of time are basically bullshit. The length of time depends on your physical condition and the frequency of your training. While a young person with an athletic history and good rotational radius in their hips may be able to get into position in a matter of days, others may take months or even years. However, most make it eventually if they stick with it and don't give up.
Never forget to warm up
Stretching is best done after your actual workout. It's the moment when you can slowly come back down and work on your flexibility in peace. Your muscles, especially in your legs, should be warm. This way you minimize the risk of injury. Keep in mind that intense strength training without stretching can worsen your flexibility. However, a combination of properly performed strength training and stretching is beneficial.
When should I stop exercising?
You should take a break for all types of injuries, including more severe muscle soreness. Most of the time you will feel extremely stiff and won't get very far anyway. But you can also injure yourself even further and thus challenge an even longer break. So it's better to leave it alone until everything feels good again. Strains are unfortunately not uncommon when stretching if you want to achieve too much too fast. Better to stretch more often than too intensely.
The best preliminary exercises
For the men's splits, it's a good idea to mobilize your hips before you get into the actual position. To stretch, you can then lie on your back with your buttocks against a wall and open your legs to the side. You can also gently stretch the men's splits by opening your legs only as wide as possible while seated, and then sliding further and further into the stretch as the tension eases. Even while sitting, you can use the wall to counter-pressure up to a certain amount of stretch. Also try to move forward with your arms (pancake stretch) and lie sideways on each leg.
For the front splits, you can practice different variations of lunges. You can also lie on your back and pull one leg with your hands or a flexible exercise band. Stretch and bend it alternately several times and always stay in the stretching position for some time, the longer the better. Make sure your pelvis stays straight and the leg does not rotate outward.
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.