The splits are a classic yet challenging move in gymnastics, dance, martial arts, and other forms of physical activity. It may seem intimidating initially, but you can learn how to do the splits fast with the proper knowledge and exercises. With stretching and practice, your body can achieve this impressive posture safely.
So here are the best tips on how to do the splits fast.
What Does Do The Splits Fast Mean?
There is no way to tell precisely how long it takes to learn a full split. From my experience, anyone can get there in a year. But we all have different starting positions as well as different genetic predispositions. However, some general trends are observable:
- Women get flexible much faster
- Kids and teens get flexible much faster
- Muscular people tend to have it a little bit harder
- If you were flexible once before in your life, it is easier, even if this was when you were a kid
If you don’t see yourself in one of the fortunate categories, don’t be discouraged; just know that you are probably looking at 6 to 10 months and not 2 to 3 weeks. With consistency, everyone can get highly flexible.
Reasons To Lean How To Do The Splits
There are many reasons to learn the splits. People often think about impressing their friends with this impressive feat. But learning how to do the splits can also bring you many physical and mental benefits.
- Improved posture
- Injury prevention
- Fewer tensions all around the body
- The feeling of accomplishment
- Greater body awareness
- Improvement of stress resistance and concentration through the physical benefits
Step-By-Step Instructions To Do The Splits Fast
If you want to learn the splits in a couple of years and just stretch out occasionally, you will find tons of tutorials with all sorts of stretching poses on YouTube or in blog posts. What I’m here to tell you is not a new special position. You want to know how to do the splits fast, and to accomplish this goal, you must understand the basic biology behind it. So here is what we’ll discuss:
- Why Do Most People Fail To Achieve The Splits?
- What Happens When You Stretch A Muscle?
- Which Muscles Do You Need To Stretch?
- How Long Do You Have To Stretch Each Muscle?
- Which Exercises Do You Need To Do?
- What Else To Do To Get There Fast?
Why Do Most People Fail To Achieve The Splits?
Most people not only fail to learn the splits fast, but they also fail to learn them entirely.
Why? – Different reasons. But the most common one is that they don’t stretch the right muscles because they don’t know which muscles are involved in the movements. Another reason is that they don’t hold the stretch long enough, resulting in not knowing what’s happening in your muscles when you stretch them.
In addition, staying motivated is a challenge when you don’t see any results because you waste time stretching unnecessary muscle groups. But don’t worry; you won’t fall into this trap after reading this article.
What Happens When You Stretch A Muscle?
When a muscle gets stretched, the nerves attached to it receive a signal. This signal is transmitted to the spinal cord, triggering a reflex. The response to the signal is that the muscle is tensed. This is a protective mechanism of the body so that the muscle is not torn. However, if the muscle remains stretched for a long time, the body learns to trigger the reflex later when the muscle is already stretched more. Thus, the muscle continues to relax, and the positions become more comfortable with each stretching session. You can probably imagine that a set with 20 seconds of stretching won’t do the trick. The position has to be held much longer, which is why many people fail.
This first effect of stretching occurs already after the first stretching sessions, and almost all results achieved in the first weeks are due to it.
The second effect becomes noticeable after a few weeks. In this case, the tissue doesn’t just relax, but there is actually a lengthening of the tendons. Small micro-tears are created in the tendons with each stretching session, which the cells fill with new material during the recovery phase. This lengthening is also why you get back past flexibility faster than it took to gain it.
So when you stretch a muscle, two things happen: The muscles relax, and the tendons get longer.
Which Muscles Do You Need To Stretch?
The most important muscles for the front split are the glutes, hamstrings, Psoas, and Rectus femoris. Many people don’t know that the rectus femoris not only runs across the thigh but is attached to the hip and therefore functions as one of the hip flexors. If you neglect it, you will stagnate over time and feel your back will fall into a hollow position when attempting the front splits.
The most important muscles for the side split are the following: Thigh adductors and hamstrings. To get down further, the hip position has to be addressed too.
How Long Do You Have To Stretch Each Muscle?
While holding a stretch for 15-30 seconds can improve the range of motion short term, holding a stretch for 2-3 minutes can deliver even better results. This is because the longer duration allows the muscle fibers to fully relax and lengthen, leading to a more significant increase in flexibility over time. Holding a stretch for longer also improves blood flow to the stretched muscles, aiding muscle recovery. However, it’s important to approach longer stretches gradually and avoid pushing beyond your limits, as overstretching can lead to muscle strain or damage.
If you look at studies on the increase of flexibility in relation to the duration of stretching, everything indicates that the optimal duration per week is 10 to 15 minutes. This duration refers to a single muscle. The total duration of a stretching session is correspondingly longer. How the stretching minutes are divided is of secondary importance. The number of sets is also not crucial, as the individual sets are effective independently due to the long holding phases.
I recommend distributing the minutes over 2 to 3 stretching sessions per week.
Which Exercises Do You Need To Do For The Splits?
The 4 best exercises for the front split:
1. Glutes And Hamstrings
The first step on the way to a full split is the half split. For the half split position, you have to put one leg forward, and then, with the heel of your front foot on the ground, you have to fold forward, keeping the front leg straight. This leads to a deep stretch of the front leg hamstring, also known as the leg biceps, and the glutes.
The second exercise to do is the low lunge position. You step forward and put your back knee on the floor. Next, you push your hips forward, which leads to an intense stretch of the Psoas and other hip flexors. For a deeper stretch, try to keep your hips parallel and your back in a straight line and resist the temptation to lean forward. If your muscles are too tense to feel a stretch, you can also position yourself next to a wall or door frame and push yourself down with the arm on the same side as the back leg.
3. Rectus Femoris
The third exercise is quite similar to the low lunge position, but the back leg no longer lies on the ground this time. You can try to grab the foot with your hand and pull it forward, but in my experience, people usually make a hollow back when doing it like that. Doing it in front of a wall and then sliding back is better. The wall will then hold your foot up, and you can focus on keeping your back in a straight line. While the main target of the lunge position is the Psoas, a muscle that connects the thigh to the spine, holding the position with the back foot in the air will stretch out the Rectus femoris, which is your main quad muscle that connects the kneecap to the hipbone.
If you find it difficult to stabilize your position, you can put a chair in front of you to push off.
4. Full Split
The final exercise is to just try the front split and see how far you get down. Using a chair to stabilize or even one on each side is fine, but remember to hold it long enough, even if it feels uncomfortable. This is crucial!
The 3 best exercises for the side split:
Since the hamstrings are involved in the front split and the side split, the half split position is also helpful for both.
2. Inner Thighs
For the second exercise, sit down and spread your legs open in opposite directions. Next, keep your back and your legs straight and fold forward. This should result in an intense stretch of the inner thighs and the groin muscles. You can try sitting on a small pillow or letting a partner push you down gently to make it a deeper stretch.
3. Full Split
The last exercise is again just trying to do a full side split and holding the position as deep as possible for a long time. To get deeper, play with the angle of your hips to find the perfect position. Everybody’s hips are built differently, so you must determine which angle works best.
For both splits, an additional exercise that can be useful is touching your toes while standing with your legs straight. It provides a good stretch for the left leg and the right leg at the same time and loosens up your whole backside.
What Else To Do To Get There Fast?
There are a couple of things that can help you progress:
Warming up before stretching
You can stretch cold if you like it, but you must slowly start your stretching routine and hold the positions for longer. Stretching out when you are already warm is usually preferred because the muscles are more willing to relax.
Not only stretching out the lower body
If you can make time to stretch the rest of your body from time to time, it will lead to faster progress because you train your body to relax in these stretched positions. It also prevents joint stress injuries related to malpositions.
Not overdoing it
How do you know whether you overdid it? There is a simple symptom that tells you – muscle soreness. When you push it too far, micro tears appear in the muscle fibers. The inflammation in these little tears feels just like the soreness you get after a hard workout. So if you stretch out and your muscles are sore the next day, don’t push that hard the next time. Remember that you want to train your muscles to relax in a stretched position. If you overdo it, you are signaling they should contract even harder since it led to little tears the last time.
Key Considerations To Successfully Learn The Splits
Here is a summary of the crucial points:
- know which muscles to stretch for the side- and the front split
- hold the positions for at least 1 minute
- stretch each muscle between 10 to 15 minutes per week
- don’t overdo it
- stay dedicated
Wrapping Up And My Experience With The Splits
I struggled to learn a full split for a long time. I basically did everything wrong, holding the positions not long enough, overdoing it, and not stretching the right muscles. I saw significant progress only when I started researching what was proven to work. I hope this article saves you all this time, telling you what to focus on and creating an effective stretching routine right from the start. With dedication, you can master the splits in no time!
Also read: How To Find Lasting Gym Motivation