Aside from gymnasts and cheerleaders, pole dancers are often among the population that’s interested in splits. Pulling off a perfect front split is definitely a key goal for any pole dancer because it demonstrates flexibility. Believe it or not, splits are gorgeous both on and off the pole. That being said, performing a split is not something you will achieve overnight. You have to work on it, and that means getting flexible. Working on flexibility is very important because it lowers your risk of injuries and joint pain.
People may make it look easy, but it’s really not that simple and requires lots of practice to do it safely. Hence, please don’t force your body to perform this physically demanding task until it’s ready. Think of the fact that your muscles are elastic in nature, and if you push them too far, they will certainly snap just like a rubber band. But when you’ll gain flexibility through practice, you will not only have achieved a fitness milestone but also reached a goal as a pole dancer. Nothing makes pole dancing as beautiful and intense as splits.
We will cover some of the stretches for a good start that will help prepare you for doing the splits safely. We also go further to provide a step by step guide on doing the splits.
How long does it take to do the splits?
Splits are typically considered a cool move and display impressive flexibility in the glutes, hamstrings, and hips. It’s no wonder you are probably dying to do the splits and finally achieve this flexibility goal. There are basically two different types of splits, which are the front splits and the side splits. Naturally, one side may be easier than the other, which is quite normal. The rate of progress is different for everyone.
There are people who have been working out and have gained some flexibility already. Such people may be able to do the splits in a week or so. On the other hand, it could be the first time you try to do a split and don’t know if it’s possible. As you learn, your legs will be bent, but it won’t take long to get it right with the stretch exercises. The biggest asset is training for flexibility and being extremely patient. Your muscles will need plenty of time to stretch and gradually adapt to the new demands.
Stretch exercises to prepare you for the splits
As easy as it may seem, splits are quite a demanding move to learn the splits. Generally, you are required to focus on stretching and strengthening the glutes, hamstring, hip flexors, and groin muscles. This will help you gain the flexibility to do the splits. We have discussed in detail the stretches that will prepare your body to do the splits. Remember, it’s vital to do these stretches daily or several times a week to see progress.
Runners stretch or the half-seated splits
The runner’s stretch is a common warmup and cooldown routine for most fitness fanatics.
- Begin in a low lunge position. Place your right foot forward and your hands on the outside of the foot for support.
- Do bring your left knee down to the ground.
- Walk your hands back, reach the hips back toward your left heel and then lengthen the right leg.
- Hold this pose for like 30 seconds or longer if you’re comfortable with it. Keep breathing.
- Switch to the other leg and repeat.
Why it’s important
This move works to open up the hip flexors and boost hamstring flexibility.
Seated Forward fold
- Sit down on the ground and stretch your legs right in front of you.
- Reach forward so as to grab hold of your feet and bend the knees so that your chest actually meets the top of your thighs. It’s important to keep it this way because a gap between your torso and legs takes away from the stretch.
- Start to gradually straighten your legs while taking in deep breaths and maintaining contact between your torso and thighs. Don’t force your legs to straighten. Always take in deep breaths, and with time you will obtain straighter legs.
Why it’s important
Splits go hand in hand with flexibility. This stretch is a good way to lengthen your hamstrings. Continuous practice of this stretch will make your hamstrings more flexible and better prepared for the splits.
Deep runners lunge
This stretch exercise is great for preparing to do splits because it works on the hips.
- Start the stretch exercise in a lunge position with your front knee bent at a right angle and your back leg straight.
- Lower your elbows to the ground and place them on the inside of your front leg.
- Work on your hips by pressing them on the ground and sliding your back leg farther backwards.
Not everyone can place their elbows all the way to the ground. If you can’t, then alternatively, place your hands on the ground. The other option would be to use yoga blocks under your elbows. The most important thing here is to lower the hips towards the ground.
Why it’s important
The deep runner’s lunge focuses on your hip flexors. This can be a tight area, especially for the kind of people who spend most of their time sitting. This stretch opens the hips to prepare them to get into the splits.
Kneeling hamstring stretch
Working on your hamstrings is fundamental in achieving splits. In that case, this stretch should be a key part of your daily routine.
- Kneel on one of your knees and then bring the other leg straightened out in front of you.
- Square the hips to ensure you’re not leaning to the side.
- Lower your chest towards your front leg and place your fingertips on the ground on each side of your foot.
- Repeat the same for the other side, starting with a bent knee and then gradually straightening it with a deep breath and great focus.
Why it’s important
This stretch works to lengthen your hamstrings independently. This way, you can correct the imbalances and give each side its own attention. If you feel that one side is tighter than the other, spend some extra time on it to balance them out.
Lunging Quad stretch
The lunging quad stretch is important for those preparing to do splits since it gets rid of any tight quads.
- Get in a lunge position, lift your back foot upwards, and then catch it with your opposite hand.
- Slowly and carefully pull your foot towards your butt until you can feel the stretch.
- Take in deep breaths as you allow your muscles some time to relax and lengthen.
- Do the same for the other side.
Why it’s important
Tight quads might prevent you from achieving full splits. When you lengthen the quads, getting your back leg to lay flat against the floor during a split will be much easier. In fact, you should focus more on this stretch if it feels a bit harder and more intense to perform it.
Block supported splits
- Start it in a kneeling hamstring stretch. Now place two yoga blocks underneath your front hamstrings.
- Slowly slide your back leg backwards to straighten it as much as possible.
- Place your fingers on the ground and lean your torso forward to make the stretch more intense.
- If two blocks won’t cut it for you, it’s okay to add one or two more. Try to hold the pose for about 30 seconds on each side. This will get your body more comfortable with holding this position. As you become more comfortable over time, remove one block and then the next one until you can do the splits.
Why it’s important
This stretch is basically the closest thing to doing the real thing. It’s good practice for full splits, and with time you will get there. The supported version is also quite safe because you won’t be forcing it.
Doing splits perfectly will take several practice sessions, and that’s why patience is critical. If you’re not able to nail it on the first attempt, keep regularly practicing until you can do it.
How to do the side splits
- Start in a low lunge position, then extend your front leg and shift your weight backward.
- After this, try to slide your back leg behind you. And then, using your hands or yoga blocks as buffers, gently lower your body to the floor until you begin to feel a pull in your hamstrings. Don’t attempt to go further than you comfortably can.
- Once you reach the floor, ensure your core is engaged so that you can stay upright. Your gaze should be straightforward, the chest lifted and the shoulders over your hips. Try also to square your hips.
How to do the straddle splits
The straddle splits, also known as the front splits, are not so difficult to achieve with a good stretching routine.
- Begin the exercise in a low lunge position with the back knee down.
- Place your hands on either side of the hips with the front foot flat.
- Ensure the back toes are pointed. Also, the top of your foot should really rest on the ground.
- Start to glide your front foot forward while still pointing the toes. Then, draw the right foot backwards while at the same time easing the hips to the ground.
- You can use your arms to relieve tension and gain stability.
- Once you feel a stretch in your hip flexors and the front leg hamstring, stop to hold this position.
The goal should not be pain, If you feel any pain, that means you’re not ready for the splits, and more time should be put into practicing the stretch exercises. In addition, avoid bouncing since this can cause unnecessary stress on the joints and muscles, resulting in pain.
If you have ever suffered a hamstring injury, it’s best to check with your doctor before embarking on a journey to attaining the splits. But for most people, splits are safe as long as you progress slowly and not force it.
Another important thing is to breathe as you stretch. In case you hold a pose, and it’s difficult for you to breathe, it’s a clear sign from your own body that you need to stop and let it rest for a bit.
All the variations of splits require proper flexibility in your lower body. If you’re experiencing any pains in your hamstrings, glutes, or lower back, bring any of those concerns to a physical therapist or a doctor. Furthermore, when doing the front or side splits, ensure your core muscles are engaged throughout the movement. Your core muscles typically work to stabilize the upper body and ultimately reduce the risk of injuring your lower back.
Avoid overstretching, bouncing, or rushing into splits. If you don’t feel ready or you’re unable to nail it, it’s okay to back off and continue practicing to get it right. This stretch is supposed to be performed slowly and in control. The only time you should get into a split is when you feel a good stretch and not pain. There should never be pain when you’re doing a split because that means something is wrong.
How do you do the splits in one day?
Almost everyone can perform some kind of seated straddle split. However, it’s impossible to safely do a split in one day because your body is not conditioned for it. If you force a split, you run the risk of getting an injury. Though, some people like gymnasts, dancers, or martial artists can master the splits in a few weeks because their bodies are accustomed to a range of physical movements and activities.
How do you become flexible enough to do the splits?
You have to put your focus on the stretch exercises to improve flexibility and eventually be able to do a split.
Even when you’re not exactly flexible, you can still learn how to do a split. Most people can achieve it through consistent practice that will increase their hip flexibility and range of motions. Patience is a great asset in this regard.