How to do the splits: A beginners guide

I am sure we can all say we have tried to do the splits before, right? It looks pretty easy, when a 15-year-old professional gymnast takes to the stage and suddenly flies into the air and drops into a perfect split position. However, for most of us it is just not that easy. Even getting that stretch after a workout can make me feel like my legs are being torn apart.

After a long few months in lockdown, which were mostly spent watching TV, studying at my desk and sleeping, my legs were well and truly un-stretchable… I mean I hadn’t done a good workout in almost 4 months! So, I decided I would finally do some exercise, but I wanted to learn something new and do something that would actually keep me interested rather than getting bored after the first try.

Accurate representation of me at the start of lockdown 😊

After some searching I came across an article informing me of the many benefits that being able to do the splits has on your joints and even on your age… yep that’s right, apparently doing the splits can keep you young.  I want to share my tips of learning how to do the splits and hopefully it will help you too!

So, the first point to note, is that there are two types of splits. The front split and the side split. Before starting any workout we recommend doing a fun warm up. We also recommend using a good yoga mat to ensure you do not slip and injure yourself while practising.

                                           Front split

The front split is achieved through stretching muscles we use every day such as our hamstrings. For myself, and many others, this was harder to achieve than the side split.

                                            Side split

The side split is achieved through stretching muscles that you would not normally stretch such as the groin and inner thigh muscle.

The following stretches are key to helping your body stretch enough to enter a split pose. We recommend doing these stretches for at least 15-30 minutes per day, taking a rest day every 3-4 days. We have included tutorials for each stretch to help understand them better.

Sitting hamstring stretch: This is one of my favourite stretches, to begin this stretch you will need to be seated on your yoga mat with your legs crossed. You will need to extend one leg out so that it is completely straight, keep your other leg bent inwards pulling your feet in closer to the thigh of the extended leg. Slowly lean forward until you can hold your foot in your hands, you should feel this stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold this stretch for 50-60 seconds and then switch legs.

Supine hamstring stretch: To begin this stretch you need to lay down on your mat with both legs straight. You will need to lift one leg in the air, keeping the other leg on the floor completely straight. Try to straighten the extended leg as much as possible. Hold your thighs from the back, this will help keep your position. Don’t worry if this is difficult for you, it was for me the first time too. Keep this position for 60 seconds and switch legs.

Seated butterfly stretch: This stretch requires you to sit on your mat and push your feet together and your knees out to the side. You need to touch your toes and push your knees down as far as possible. I personally found that I felt this stretch the most! Keep this pose for 60 seconds.

Knee to chest stretch: To do this stretch you need to lay on your mat and bring one knee up and as close to your chest as possible. Keep your leg on the ground as straight as possible. Use your hands to keep your knee steady. Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds and switch legs.

Kneeling lunge stretch: For this final stretch you should start in a push up position on your mat. You will need to pull one leg forward and bring your body to an upright position while dropping the knee of your other leg to the mat. Put your hands on your hips and push your hips forward, you should feel the stretch in your hamstrings and quadriceps. Keep this movement going for 40 seconds and then switch to the other leg.

After completing these stretches each day you will surely want to try and get into the splits position. For the front split you will need to stand upright and slowly slide downwards pushing your feet more and more to the side. For the side split you will need to kneel on the ground and extend one of your legs out in-front of you while keeping your back leg bent with your knee on the ground to support you.

Each time you complete these stretches you will be able to get lower and lower, until eventually you are in the splits position! It took me just over 40 days to reach that perfect side split and a little longer to achieve the front split! Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes longer. If doing the splits was easy then I probably wouldn’t be writing about it.

                      Achieving the split position really is an accomplishment

Other than hugely impressing yourself, friends and family, there are numerous benefits to being able to do the splits such as;

Having better balance

Your yoga game will be fire

Helps to develop your patience

If you feel that you would lack motivation by doing the splits alone, I recommend downloading the Splits Training App. It’s a free 30-day Splits Challenge which has step-by-step instructions on how to get that perfect split. You can also choose between different levels; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

                                  30-day split challenge app

Please do comment below and let me know if you managed to get that perfect split pose using these steps, or if you have any further advice for those wanting to achieve it. Oh, and if you see me showing off my new split moves in the supermarket queue… come and join me 😊

 

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