How To Do A Full Splits: The 4 Stretches You Need To Know

June 04, 2013

Todd’s Note: This is a guest post from Jarlo Ilano of GoldMedalBodies.com.

The training for the front splits is relatively simple.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult – this level of flexibility can take quite a bit of time to achieve – but the steps toward the splits aren’t complicated.

SOA Front Splits

We spend most of our days going through the “middle” of our ranges of motion. We don’t often fully stretch to the limit of our flexibility, and as such, our full range of motion tends to decline over time. The phrase “use it or lose it” fits extremely well in this context.

The best way to combat this loss of movement is to stretch daily, especially in areas that tend to lose the most ground without consistent work. The hip flexors and hamstrings are prime examples of those areas, and unfortunately, these are the main groups that are affected in the front split position.

The Particulars for the Splits

The proper performance of the front splits includes three key points:

1. Hips square and facing forward
2. Back leg knee pointing toward the ground, not out to the side
3. Upper body tall and upright

If you adhere to these details, your front splits will not only look better, but the position represents a good opening of the hips from the front and back, and a coordination of upper body and lower body positioning.

For side splits, be especially careful about knee health, as moving into the position too quickly can sprain the medial ligaments of the knees, as well as other unprepared structures.

Stretching for the Splits

There are many stretching variations you can use to work toward the splits, but these four stretches are all you really need to work on for the splits.

SOA Half LungeHalf Lunge

The main points for this stretch are as follows:

-Hip flexor, quadriceps, spinal extension
-End position knee is over toes, not beyond
-Hips square, facing forward
-Torso in straight vertical plane, as you “sit down”
-Knee on ground goes “backwards”
-You can accentuate the stretch by pulling your ankle up

SOA Hamstring VariantHamstring Variant

The main points for this stretch are as follows:

-Sitting on one leg
-Forward leg is straight and with toes pointed
-Hip hinge
-Keep the back straight and lead with the chest
-Look beyond the feet

 

SOA Combination StretchCombination of Half Lunge and Hamstring Variant

The main points for this stretch are as follows:

-Start in half lunge, with your knee, shin, and ankle/foot in same line
-Sit back and slide front heel forward
-Keep upper body bent forward with chest up as you slide forward
-Then start with bent knee extended backwards and continue to push the knee further back as you improve
-It’s useful to have blocks or stools for elevated hand support

 

SOA PancakePancake

The main points for this stretch are as follows:

-Open hips and inner thighs, for “side splits”
-Legs and feet to extend out rather than being “scrunched”
-Hip hinge, project chest forward in between your hands
-Hands on ground to start
-Rolling variant with hands in front of knees, alternate back arching
-Sidebending variant reaching side to side
-Arms straight on the ground and reaching out
-Coordinate upper and lower body

Programming

For the best results, you should work on these stretches daily, practicing each stretch for 5 minutes.

(Don’t worry, you don’t need to hold each stretch for that entire time.)

Practice moving in and out of the stretch, using the muscles that are being stretched, for around 10 repetitions. Then, hold the stretch for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat this process for 5 minutes.

Stretch Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding stretching – when you should do it, how you should do it, and even if you should do it at all.

The bottom line is that stretching is just like any other exercise modality. It works well if you do it safely and smartly. And what makes for smart practice is goal oriented practice.

Think about what your specific goals are before starting any flexibility routine (or fitness routine, for that matter). If splits are one of your goals, then great! Follow the stretches outlined in this article, and you’ll be well on your way to the splits.

Focused Flexibility is a program I put together to help people figure out what their stretching needs are for that very reason. Once you know what your needs/goals are, you can design and implement the appropriate stretching program.

-Jarlo Ilano

Jarlo is a resident Physical Therapist, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, and martial arts instructor. He writes articles and manuals for GoldMedalBodies.com.

***

Thanks Jarlo for sharing your knowledge with the SOA community!

The Front Splits Challenge – You Are Invited!

The initial reason I reached out to GMB was because they are gymnastics experts and are one of the few groups that focus on “complete” athleticism. True athletes and fitness enthusiasts don’t limit their skills to just muscle growth or muscular endurance.

These are both important, of course. True athletes, however, try to improve in all areas of fitness including:

-Muscular Strength
-Muscular Endurance
-Healthy Body Composition
-Balance
-Breathing
Flexibility
-And More!

One area that I have always been embarrassed about is my flexibility.

So I have decided to do something about it and commit the next 3 months (Starting June 10th – Ending September 9th) to increasing my flexibility and striving toward the front splitz.

Would you like to join me?

I will be using the above techniques and the methods learned from Jarlo’s Focused Flexibility program to work toward the front splits. I have already downloaded it and am really impressed at how in depth he goes into each stretch.

I will be posting my progress on the site and on Facebook

If you have always wanted to get the splits and would like some accountability, come join me! The next 3 months will pass regardless… why not work toward a goal few can do! 🙂

Are You In?

-Todd

Show/Hide Comments (9 comments)
L
9 Comments
  1. Ashley

    Did you ever finish you challenge? What was your improvement? I don’t see where you posted or blogged about the end.

    Reply
  2. Tom Baker

    I really want to do this. Manly Male 52

    Reply
  3. Autumm

    In 🙂

    Reply
  4. Jeanne

    I’m in

    Reply
  5. Catrina

    I’m in!

    Reply
  6. Col

    IN!

    Reply
    • Jacelyn

      In 🙂

      Reply
  7. Jennifer

    I’m soooooo in!!!

    Reply
    • Todd Kuslikis

      Awesome Jennifer!!! Let’s do it!

      Reply
Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.