How To Do The Splits For Those That Are Inflexible

Working on your flexibility can be a frustrating experience for a lot of us, especially when it appears to come so easily to some!

Although there are some uncommon people that are naturally very flexible, most of us have to work very hard to slowly lengthen the muscles.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve had trouble getting more flexible in the past – you absolutely can improve your range of motion, no matter how stiff you may feel currently.

What it takes is consistent effort and the right stretches for you to start to break through the barrier and hit those splits consistently!

We will get to those golden stretches that hit all the right places in just a bit, but first…

Take It One Stretch at A Time

It might seem that if you can’t do the splits right now, the only way to improve is to constantly attempt a split until it finally falls into place – this is most definitely not the ideal way to go about things.

Trying to push your flexibility too far too fast can quickly lead to muscle injuries as you overstretch tight muscles. Plus, even if you don’t get hurt, consistently failing to do a split can be a real hit to your confidence and willingness to improve.

Like anything other skill that takes longer than a day to master, learning how to do the splits is best accomplished by breaking down your goals into smaller, easier to obtain checkpoint. These checkpoints need to be measurable to ensure that you are actually making progress.

This ensures that you know whether you are hitting your goals or not and keeps you focused on the singular task at hand. Additionally, it also helps to increase your confidence and motivation as you can clearly see the progress you are making!

You’ve probably heard of MIT, right? The college of super brainiacs? Well here is their list of muscle groups that you need to focus on in order to do the splits.

  • Lower back
  • Glutes
  • Groin/inner thigh
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip flexors
  • Quadriceps

These are the muscles that need to be flexible and pliable in order to be able to hit a split, so they are great areas to focus on in your stretches.

Safety First in Stretching and Warm Ups

Wait! Don’t stretch quite yet! We’ve gotta get some warnings out of the way first.

The experts make it clear: it’s imperative that you start slowly when it comes to stretching and that you work your muscle groups individually.

An easy way to remember it is what the Mayo Clinic states: if you feel pain, then you’ve gone too far. Instead, you should feel some mild tightness and tension. Hold that position for 10 – 30 seconds and breathe slowly. Don’t bounce up and down to try to further the stretch.

Just like the shampoo bottle says, it is time to rinse and repeat. Do the same stretch for 2 or 3 more rounds to fully lengthen the muscle.

Tip: Don’t forget to warm up! You should always do a nice 5 to 10 minute warm up consisting of light physical activity before stretching. This gets your blood moving and prepares your muscles for the stretching that’s about to happen. So if you’re warmed up, let’s start stretching!

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Last updated: 02/17/2020

How To Work Yourself Up To A Split

Start with these stretches and practice them 3 to 4 times a week at least, unless you feel you can try for more or even daily practice. Try for a 5 minute warm up period, then 10 minutes of gentle stretching using some of the stretches listed below.

If you feel any sort of pinching sensation or discomfort when trying for one of these stretches, come out of the stretch and try slowly going back into the stretch if you can. You can also try changing the angle and duration of the stretch if that helps you. Remember, if you do ever feel any sort of pain stop the stretch immediately!

Lower Back Stretches

  1. Lie on your back with your head on a pillow if you would like
  2. Bend your leg and bring one knee up to your chest and hold for 30 – 45 seconds
  3. Relax and straighten knee
  4. Repeat with opposite leg

Lying Buttocks Stretch

While you’re still lying on your back, try this stretch that helps to stretch your glutes.

  1. Lie down on a gym mat and bend both knees, bring your feet towards your buttocks.
  2. Place your right foot over your left knee
  3. Lift both legs up, then interlace your fingers behind your left leg
  4. Pull your left leg in and stretch for 30 – 45 seconds

Inner Thigh

  1. Lay on your back on a gym mat
  2. Bring your feet inward, into a butterfly position
  3. Drop your knees downward, letting gravity do most of the work for you

Seated Leg Stretches

  1. Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent
  2. Straigthen a leg and raise it straight up – get as close to perpindicular to your body as you can
  3. Work on making sure you keep both hips on the ground, then gently pull the leg towards you, feeling a gentle stretch in your hamstrings
  4. Repeat on the other leg

Quadriceps

  1. Lie on your side on a gym mat
  2. Pull your foot up behind you and grab your ankle to start a gentle stretch
  3. Make sure to keep both knees in line as you complete the stretch

Here are some other quad stretches that will help improve flexibility:

Psoas Stretch

Time for a nice lunch to stretch those tight hips.

  1. Standing up, push your left leg behind you
  2. Bend your right leg while keeping your knee over your foot
  3. Sit into the stretch and hold for 30 seconds, repeat on the other side.

Calf Stretch

  1. Stand near a wall or tree
  2. Put your toes on the wall
  3. Push your heel towards the wall

Frequently Asked Questions About The Splits

Can Anyone Do A Split With Practice?

Yes! Do not fret, everyone can eventually learn how to do the splits with enough practice and stretching! It does take a lot of practice and stretching, but yes you can eventually learn to do a full split! There are some very rare cases when some people just cannot anatomically do splits, but it is quite rare and most everyone is capable of performing them.

How Long Does It Take To Do The Splits if you Practice Everyday?

This is a highly variable number that changes pretty drastically from person to person. Most people can learn to do a split within a few months, and some within 30 days. People that are already very flexible can learn how to do one within 15 days.

Can Someone Push You Into A Split?

If you are unable to do a split, having someone push you into one will not help your flexibility at all. You are more likely to hurt yourself trying this method rather than increasing your flexibility.

Can You Learn To Do The Splits at 50?

So you think that old age is stopping you from achieving flexibility? Wrong! You absolutely can learn to do the splits after 50, it might just take a little longer. It is true that you naturally become less flexible as you get older, but a lot of that comes from simply not stretching enough for years before! Don’t make the mistake of blaming your age when you should instead be blaming your lack of stretches – now you control the outcome, so get to work!