Front Splits….gorgeous on the ground and in the air; just how do you train to get a consistently flat split? Let’s look at some effective stretches you can do at home to train. It is a big misconception that having a flat split is just about stretching your hamstrings…WRONG. You must train your hip flexors as well.
In order to INCREASE your flexibility you should be stretching for 30-60 minutes 5 times per week. (Yes, it’s called dedication. J But it pays off, trust me.) In order to MAINTAIN your current flexibility you should be stretching 3 times per week. In order to regress, don’t stretch at all (duh!).
These stretches are in the order I do them on a regular basis. Please warm up your leg muscles prior to stretching. Warm muscles sink lower. Drinking lots of water throughout the day is also very important when flexibility training. Ok, let’s start training for that flat split!
1. Foam Roll your Hamstrings: foam rolling your muscles is extremely benficial for flexibility training. You can roll your muscles out before AND after stretching, working out, and/or if you're feeling a little tight. (It's a good idea to roll out your hip flexors as well when training for your splits!) Be sure to do both sides...always :)
2. Gravity Lunge: This stretch is targeting your back leg’s hip flexor. In order to have a truly flat split your hips must be square to the front, which means you need to have flexible hip flexors.
- Your front knee should be BEHIND your front foot.
- Your back knee and foot are one the ground
- Your hips should be square to the front
- Try to use your hands…let gravity pull you down (fingertips on the ground are ok)
- Keep a straight back
2. Dynamic Leg Kicks: kick your leg as hard as you can to your same side shoulder.
- try to keep your opposite heel on the ground when you kick
- push through the back of your knee (keep your leg straight!)
- do at least 10 kicks for each leg
3. Splits on Back Static Stretch: Pull your leg towards your same side shoulder. Push through the back of your knee. I’d rather see a straight leg than a bent leg pulled all the way to the shoulder…don’t cheat the stretch.
- Keep the opposite heel on the ground…don’t let it come up
- Breathe deeply
- Hold for 30 seconds (you can do 3 sets of 10 second holds)
3. Splits on Back Active Stretch: Actively pull your leg towards your face. Keep a straight leg…activate your quad in order to push through the back of your knee.
- Keep your opposite heel on the ground
- Pull your leg as HARD as you can toward your face (it will take some muscling through it!)
- Hold for 3 sets of 10 seconds
4. Scissor Squeeze Hold: Put your hands on the ground on either side of you and squeeze your legs together (against the ground) like they are a pair of scissors.
- Hold each one for 10 seconds. After each 10 second hold, sink lower into your splits. Do 3 sets of 10-second holds & 10-seconds sink down into the stretch.
- Be sure to keep your hips square to the front during these holds
5. Scissor Squeeze-Ups: squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. This is NOT a bounce. These are LIFTS. With each lift, your body should move up slightly.
- Do 10, then sink down lower into your splits…do this twice
- Keep your hips square to the front
- Try to keep your hands off of the ground. Just use your leg muscles to lift.
Doing these stretches CONSISTENTLY will get your splits flat. Be sure to do all of the stretches and exercises on both legs for equal amounts of time. You may notice one side progressing faster than the other…eventually having a “good” side and a “bad” side. In that case, always start stretching on your “bad” side first.
Stay Fit and In Flight!