How to Get the Front Splits

I’ll start by showing you my journey and then explaining how I actually made progress after many failed attempts to learn how to do the splits.

My Progress

Starting state:

5-6 weeks later:

And a few months later (my training was a little bit more lax at this point):

How to Train

I followed a slightly modified version of Antranik’s great splits routine: https://antranik.org/antraniks-splits-routine/

I also took advice and inspiration from a couple other blogs, for example :

http://www.fitandbendy.com/blog2/on-active-flexibility

The first key point is that I trained consistently three times a week. I know from experience 1-2 times a week will not lead to much improvement, so I think 3 is the minimum you need. It is not the fastest progress possible, but it was pretty solid for me at a relatively low time cost. The whole routine takes about 30 minutes if you include a bit of warmup. You can train more often, but at some point you will hit diminishing returns and increase your risk of injury if you don’t get enough rest.

Start with some general warm up to increase your heart rate and move your whole body, for example by doing some jumping jacks. The next part is dynamic stretching, in this case leg swings: 20 front, side and back on each leg. Following that is perhaps the hardest part, active stretching: standing splits for 1 minute on each leg. Incorporating some dynamic and active stretching instead of just sitting in passive long-held stretches is really helpful. If you ever want to do splits away from the floor where you don’t have assistance from gravity, it’s absolutely essential.

Next we have four 1 minute passive poses, each opening a different side for the hip & legs:

  • seated forward fold (paschimottanasana) to stretch the hamstrings (or half split/hanumanasana, 1 minute on each leg, if you have more time)
  • couch stretch or reclined hero pose (supta virasana) for the front hip
  • pigeon (variation of eka pada rajakapotasana) or figure four to get into the glutes
  • butterfly (baddha konasana) to open the inner thigh (adductors)

Lastly, we get to the actual splits: middle, pancake, and front split on each side. Each one is held for 2 minutes. I’d recommend not being completely passive in the pose, but instead using PNF techniques. That means a contract/hold – relax pattern: contract your muscles for a few seconds, then relax for a few and repeat. Instead of middle splits I often do frog pose, as that is one of my least flexible areas.

You can add more exercises or stretches as you like. The key is really just to do something consistently for long enough. Don’t expect to see much in 1-3 weeks; but you should be seeing some changes in 1-3 months.

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