Whether you’re looking to improve your ability to do the splits to increase your athletic ability, work on your flexibility, or just want to achieve a cool new party trick, learning how to do the splits is no easy task. It’s a pretty intense stretch for the body to master and will take a dedicated training regime that consists of some daily stretch exercises.
What are the splits?
Front splits, box splits, side splits, banana splits. You may be getting a bit confused with the different types.
Basically, when we’re talking about the splits, we are referring to a physical stretch, or position (and not a delicious ice cream dessert, unfortunately). The position requires a heck of a lot of flexibility from some core muscles and shouldn’t be approached lightly. You’ve been warned.
There are two main types of splits: the box splits and the front splits. Box splits are also commonly referred to as side splits, or middle splits. Whichever of the split positions you’re in, your legs are always in line with each other, but facing in opposite directions.
Either one in front of you and one behind (for the front splits), or one either side of your torso (for the side splits). Basically at 180 degrees.
How do you practice the splits?
Stretching. And lots of it.
When learning how to do the splits, it’s really important that you warm up and warm down properly. This is a pretty intense stretch (as we’ve already stated). We’ve done the research, so we know exactly the best stretches to get you well on your way to mastering the splits.
The five best stretches for learning how to do the splits
When it comes to stretching to engage in the splits, your hamstrings, adductors, glutes and the groin are all warmed up. This sounds like a lot, but there are some pretty simple stretches that will help you with this.
We’ve listed them for you below. No need to thank us.
Unfamiliar with these? No worries, we’ve got you.
There are plenty of lunge stretch varieties you can test and try to find a lunge stretch that works for you. Whether that’s a stationary lunge, a walking lunge, or even a reverse lunge (if you’re feeling brave), lunges are one of the best exercises to target your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings and get yourself ready to learn the splits.
- Sitting pike stretch
The sitting pike is a great stretch to start with when you’re learning how to do the splits. On a comfortable, flat service, sit down with your legs together and out in front of you. Reach forward with both hands to touch your toes, and you’ll feel the stretch of your hamstrings behind your knees.
Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and release. Relax and repeat.
- Standing hamstring stretch
Now you’re comfortable with the feeling of a hamstring stretch, it’s time to tackle the standing hamstring stretch. Stand up straight and tall with your feet together and arms out in front of you. Next, whilst keeping your feet flat on the floor, lower your forehead to your knee by bending at your waist.
Again, hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Release. Relax. Repeat.
- Towel hamstring stretch
If you find it hard to touch your toes, try the towel hamstring stretch. If you’ve got the equipment, this can also be done with a resistance band.
Position yourself in the sitting pike stance, sat on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Next, loop a towel (or resistance band) around one of your feet, and keep hold of the other end. Slowly pull on the towel or band and lift your leg straight up, maintaining a straight knee. Whilst you’re doing this, the leg without a towel or band should remain flat on the ground in the starting position.
Continue to raise your leg until you feel your hamstring stretch. Hold. Release. Relax. Repeat.
We recommend you repeat this movement around 5 times for each leg.
- Hold your split
Now, slow down there. Don’t start here.
One of the best ways to maintain your split is by regularly getting in the split position and holding. This ensures that your muscles maintain their flexibility, but this method can only be done when you’ve already mastered the box or front split.
If you’re still struggling for stretching inspo, check out 9 Easy Stretching Exercises That Will Increase Flexibility, too.
The three main benefits of learning how to do the splits
Aside from the fact that learning how to do the splits means that you’ve gained a new skill (which is always a satisfying feat), learning how to do the splits includes a couple of great health benefits, which you may not have considered…
- Increased flexibility
Now, this one is obvious. It’s pretty much what we’ve been talking about. But it’s also a fact and a great benefit, so. There we go.
- Increases your natural balance
Pretty cool, right? Strengthening your muscles and joints leads to an increase in overall physical wellbeing. This also means that your balance improves. Not to mention, a greater range of motion. Maintaining good capabilities in these areas becomes more and more important as we age, so learning the splits is a great way to do this.
- Maintains good joint health
Talking of getting old… one of the things that unfortunately deteriorates with age is our joint health. Learning how to do the splits (as well as maintaining a healthy diet and staying active) is a great way to maintain healthy joint health. So, why not give it a go?