How to Do the Splits, No Matter Your Starting Point
Sure, learning how to do a split can give you a fun party trick, but the perks go beyond impressing other people. Like other stretches, the splits promote flexibility, a focus that you don't want to overlook in your fitness routine. Flexibility is a factor in your overall mobility, which plays a role in workout performance and injury prevention.
While you don't necessarily need to go to the lengths of learning how to do a split to maintain adequate flexibility, it can be a fun challenge to take on. Even if you haven't done the stretch in years (or ever), with the right prep you can work your way up. No matter your starting point, these exercises from Nike master trainer Rebecca Kennedy will help you get there. (Related: These Tests Will Measure Your Flexibility from Head to Toe)
Rather than forcing your way into deep stretches, you want to gradually build up to them, which is true of the splits, which don't come easy to many people. With the help of some equipment, you can use these exercises to ease your way into the stretch so that you won't strain a muscle. Do this routine daily and you'll be a few inches closer to a split each time. While it may take some time, you'll benefit from increases in your range of motion along the way. (Related: Lizzo Is Learning How to Do the Splits and You're Going to be Seriously Impressed)
How to Do Splits
How it works: Perform each stretch for about one minute on each side.
You'll need: A kettlebell, a plyometric box, a tennis ball, and two yoga blocks
A. Stand on a plyometric box, holding a kettlebell.
B. Tuck chin to chest, then slowly roll down through spine, bringing kettlebell toward the floor.
C. Slowly reverse movement and repeat.
Supine Hip Flexion
A. Lie on back with right leg lifted off the floor and knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Place a tennis ball at hip flexor, squeezed between hip and thigh.
B. Slowly straighten right knee to bring right foot toward the ceiling, being careful not to release tennis ball.
C. Slowly bend right knee to return to starting position. Repeat on opposite side.
Extend and Release Hamstring Press
A. Lie on back with left knee bent and left foot on floor. Straighten right leg and place right foot on plyometric box in front of body.
B. Bring straight right leg toward face.
C. Slowly lower right leg with control to return to starting position. Repeat on opposite side.
Hip Extension 2 Ways
A. Lie on stomach with right knee bent and resting on yoga block and a tennis ball held at the back of your right knee, where the calf meets hamstring.
B. Lifting from the hip, raise bent right leg a few inches to bring knee off yoga block.
C. Lower right knee to return to starting position. Repeat on opposite side.
D. Begin kneeling with left foot forward on the floor and right knee down and on a towel. Legs should be at 90-degree angles.
E. Slide right knee backward a few inches to come into deep lunge.
F. Reverse movement to slide right knee forward to return to starting position. Repeat on opposite side.
Lunge to Hamstring Extension
A. Begin in plank position with hands under shoulders and legs long behind you. Move into runner's lunge, bringing right foot up to outside of right hand.
B. Shift weight back by raising hips and straightening right leg so only the heel is on the floor.
C. Bend right knee and lower hips to return to starting position.
Modified Split Using Blocks
A. With body between two yoga blocks, kneel on left leg and extend right leg straight in front of body.
B. Prop hands on yoga blocks while extending left leg straight behind body.
C. Lift through the chest. This should look like an elevated split.
With time, you'll be able to slowly bend your arms from the modified split and slowly bring hips down to the floor, coming into a full split.