If you’re one of many people who isn’t exactly flexible, despite being extremely fit, then you might wince when you see someone doing a split. Don’t let those aesthetic pictures of ladies doing splits fool you, while smiling from ear to ear — this impressive yet seemingly straightforward pose actually takes time and practice to master. The good news is, you can learn how to do the splits. And that’s not all – by dedicating 10 minutes of each day, doing this 30 day split challenge for beginners guarantees that you’ll get more flexible. But before you attempt this feat of flexibility, here’s everything you need to know.
What Is A Split?
A split also called the straddle or the lunge position is a physical posture that involves one leg extended straight in front of you and one leg extending behind.
Allowing your legs to spread as wide as possible while keeping your torso stretched out, this pose makes for an impressive sight because it requires such incredible flexibility in both the hips and knees. It can be quite challenging simply because of how many muscles are involved: calves, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, and abs all have to work hard to keep your body aligned.
What Is The Purpose Of The Split?
Aside from being impressive to look at, the splits also prompt strength gains throughout your entire body owing to all of the muscles that are activated by this stretch (1). The reason? Holding a split engages your entire posterior chain, including all of your gluteal muscles as well as your hamstrings. Your quadriceps and adductor muscles (the ones in your groin that allow you to cross your legs) are also engaged during splits.
Of course, since it has so many benefits, this pose is often incorporated into daily routines for:
- Firming and toning
- Strengthening thighs, calves, and ankles
- Improving posture
- Getting rid of cellulite
- Increasing circulation throughout the limbs and body
- Conditioning joints and ligaments
- Boosting flexibility
- Calming nerves
- Alleviating stress and anxiety
How To Do A Split: Proper Stretching Technique
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a gymnast or other athlete in order to do this exercise. As long as you have healthy knees and hips, it is possible for any person of any age to learn the splits. The key to doing it correctly is in the preparation and technique.
Before you begin your training session, here are some things that you’ll want to consider:
- Warm up before you attempt to do a split. This will not only help you prevent injury but also aid in your flexibility gains by allowing the muscles to relax and lengthen.
- Do not strain yourself during stretching. Doing so can hurt your muscles, joints, or ligaments. Instead, use a slow and steady approach by holding each of the beginner stretches for about 20 seconds before moving on to another one.
- Consult with your doctor if you have any questions about using the middle split stretch or if you have preexisting conditions such as osteoporosis.
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How To Do The Splits On Your Knees
The first way most people build up their flexibility is by learning how to do a split on their knees. This is because it’s much easier than being upright when starting out.
To practice this move, all you will need are two chairs set six feet apart with a firm, carpeted surface for you to lay on. The first thing you’ll want to do is spread your legs as wide apart from each other as possible without feeling any pain in your knees or hips. You should also keep one foot flat on the floor while keeping the other raised. Then, lean forward and place your hands on top of the chair in front of you.
Now that you’re set-up, try easing yourself down onto the floor — but not all at once. Instead, slowly lower your upper body until it just touches the ground. Once this happens, don’t move around too much; instead, remain in this position with complete focus on how you feel. Your goal is to feel discomfort (it’s normal) without experiencing pain.
If you feel okay, slowly raise your torso back up until it’s erect again, while keeping one foot on the ground and the other raised in front of you. If this doesn’t hurt at all, try lowering yourself down a little bit more — but don’t push yourself too hard. Continue shifting your body around until you find out what feels most comfortable for you.
As time goes by, keep practicing these poses over and over again until it seems as if your legs are always spread far apart from each other, even when you’re not doing them consciously. This is because, after some amount of work, the actual pose becomes second nature to your body since it starts adjusting accordingly.
How To Do The Splits With Your Body Upright
Of course, a lot of people don’t want to do splits on their knees simply because they’d rather be upright. This can seem like an intimidating feat right off the bat, but it’s not really as bad as it seems. All you have to do is follow these five steps:
First, spread your legs apart as wide as possible without putting pressure on your knees or hips. Lift one foot up and keep it suspended in midair while keeping the other flat against the ground. Then lean forward until you are parallel (or almost parallel) with the ground while making sure that neither of your knees touch. Once this is done, raise your arms directly above your head and start bending over in a downward arc motion until you are as close to touching the ground as possible without straining yourself. Again, remain in this position for as long as you are comfortable —without any pain.
Then, very slowly bring your legs back together with one foot flat on the floor and one suspended in midair (just like before). Now lean forward again until you’re parallel or almost parallel with the floor while making sure that neither of your knees touches. Keeping this posture intact, reach out with both of your hands towards your raised leg until they intersect with each other. At first, it may appear that there is no way to do this exercise without your body touching the ground. You will then find that, if you spread your arms just a tiny bit wider apart, you will be able to touch each hand with one of your knees.
Here’s why this is so important: there is no such thing as perfection in flexibility and body alignment. Your challenge is to keep adapting and improving until it comes naturally to you —but this doesn’t mean that you should strain yourself while doing so. Remember that it’s about being safe first, which ultimately means being comfortable.
After some time, try reaching out again for your raised leg until it touches the ground without putting pressure on either of your knees or hips. Do this repeatedly until both legs are down and flat against the floor, making you a better and more well-rounded person.
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The 30-Day Middle Split Challenges
If you’re wondering, “well how long does it take to do the splits”. You can greatly improve your flexibility in 30 days. The #JourneytoSplits challenge by Blogilates will have you striking a pose in one month! All you have to do is stretch for 10 minutes each day, following this pose chart.
Simple Tips To Make Your Split Exercise Better
By this point, you may be assuming that this difficult exercise needs to be done by professionals or something like that — but the truth is much simpler than that anyone can learn how to do the split.
At first glance, this might seem as if it wouldn’t help at all, but you would actually be surprised at how helpful these tips are.
For instance, let’s say that your kneecap is bothering you when you’re in a split position— so what do you do? Well, it turns out that there are two things you can do; first off, make sure your knee cap is always pointing in the same direction as your toes.
At the end of the day, it is only natural for you to have a little discomfort somewhere on your body while doing splits — especially if this is something that you’re not used to doing. If you find yourself very uncomfortable and can’t tolerate any sort of pain during these exercises, then stop immediately!
That being said, there’s no reason why you have to be 100% strict with yourself when training; just do whatever feels most comfortable for your position and body alignment. For example, say something hurts your ankle or heel whenever you try going into a split—well, then simply change positions until it doesn’t hurt anymore. In case it still does, rest for at least five minutes (this is very important) and then try again.
The Bottom Line
Learning how to do the splits can seem like a tall order, especially if you’re not very flexible. However, with the 30 day split challenge, you can learn this pose. All you have to do is dedicate 10-15 minutes of your day to learning how to safely do a split. Like with all things, moderation is key. Listen to your body and stop if you need to, start again after rest.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Nonlinear Periodization Maximizes Strength Gains in Split Resistance Training Routines (2009, journals.lww.com)