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Master the Splits – An Unconventional Training Regimen

By Shashank Thakur

The Splits

The Splits

These days a large number of us have jobs and lifestyles which include many hours of sitting. Prolonged sitting causes hip flexor muscles to weaken and shorten, leading to stiffness, aches, lower back pain and posture deviations and thus making the splits more difficult to achieve.

One way to combat tight hip flexors is to add the Splits to your fitness routine. Practicing to master the splits will help you achieve a full stretch of the hip flexors, hamstrings and posterior calf muscles. Many overlook The Splits, but by adding it to your unconventional training program, you’ll discover both general and athletic benefits.

Sports such as tennis, running, the long jump, soccer, and cricket greatly benefit from training the full leg 180 degree split.  When working out, our leg muscles contract again and again. And our leg muscles cannot remove lactic acid easily. So, stretching is the most important part before or after training.

The most important thing when working to master the splits is to begin with a complete warm-up which will increase the blood flow in the muscles and give a primary stretch to the muscles.  You need a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes of warm-up before you start to stretch full split with your full effort. I have been doing full split leg stretching since I was seven-years-old and still continue this routine.

Essential Warm-Up

1- Jumping Jacks

2- Cycling in a laying position.

3- Butterfly stretch

Butterfly stretch

Triangle pose

Practice Session One
  • Low lunges
  1. Place both legs together in a standing position.
  2. Put one leg back as far as you can.
  3. Bend both of your knees.
  4. Put your hands on your forward knee and try to stretch your legs.
  5. Do it dynamically one by one – 10 reps each leg and 6 sets.
  6. Try to hold the position in the maximum stretch position for 20 seconds.
  • Runner Lunge Stretch
  1.  Stand up on both feet.
  2.  Place one leg forward on your heel as much as you can.
  3.  Bend the knee of the other leg and try to stretch and hold as much as you can.
  • Toe Touch Exercise
  1. Sit on the floor.
  2. Open  both legs as much as you can in a sitting position.
  3. Try to touch your toes one by one from opposite hands.
  4. Do it dynamically as well as in a holding position.
Practice Session Two
  • Full lunges
  1. Go into the low lunge stretch position as in session 1.
  2. Place your hands on either side of front legs.
  3. Try to stretch your legs as much as you can in this position.
  4. Do it dynamically and then in a holding position.
  • One leg split stretch dynamically and hold
  1. Stand on your feet  open both legs together as much as you can.
  2. Try to sit on one side near your leg while stretching other leg.
  3. Then switch and do it on the other side.
  4. Try to put your legs in a straight line.
  5. Do it dynamically and also hold it as much as you can.
Practice Session Three
  • Running lunges full stretch
  1. Go into the low lunge stretch position as mentioned in practice season 1.
  2. This time you will put both hands on the floor, but your leg will land outside of your hands as shown in the picture.
  3. Do it with the other leg and then the other leg one by one.
  4. As you progress, do it faster.
  • Full leg split 180-degree stretch

Now, this is the best time to try to master the full leg 180 split. Try to open your legs slowly and to push up and down slowly.  Be patient! With steady, slow progress you will master the splits!

Limitations for splits- If you have arthritis or a bone issue, do not try this. If you had surgery, ask a physician if this is something you can try. If you are overweight or have a stiff body, go especially slow! Warm-up moves are best for you.

Only progress if you have mastered a practice session completely and you do not experience pain. Always do a proper warm-up. Do not over train. Listen to your body.

When I’m asked, “How long does it take to master the splits?” naturally this depends on the person. For an athlete without physical restrictions, who follows the format presented above regularly, usuallythis can be achieved in 3-6 months.

Good luck and be careful!  Stop if you experience any pain.

Shashank Thakur

Born in India, Shashank, 26, now resides in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where he works as a certified personal trainer, gym manager, online trainer, calisthenics coach, yoga instructor, nutrition advisor and Bootcamp facilitator.