Of the many brag-worthy fitness feats, the split seems most like a you-can-or-you-can’t proposition. But just as you can train yourself to do a push-up and even a pull-up, with the right exercises and mentality, you can get yourself into a split — though you shouldn’t expect it to happen overnight.
“The most important thing to remember about stretching is that you have to go at your own pace,” says Kristina Nekyia of Fit & Bendy Flexibility Training in Los Angeles. “The ‘no pain, no gain' mentality that you see in other forms of fitness does not work with stretching. If you push too hard too fast, you risk injury.”
For some, that might mean months of consistent stretching, as well as core strengthening, to be able to support your upper body while your legs are splayed around you. “The best approach is not to set a deadline to achieve your splits, but to learn to enjoy the process of stretching,” Nekyia says. “If you stretch regularly, you will see improvement and you will reach your goals when your body is ready.”
Plus, even if the bragging rights that come with the end result are your motivating factor, that’s not the only reason to embark on the split journey. Working up to it will require daily stretching of the hamstrings and hip flexors — the same muscles that get overly tight from too much sitting. This means you’ll be protecting yourself from low back pain as well.
Nekyia adds that you’ll achieve much better results if your split-stretching routine is part of a greater flexibility plan. That said, ahead are the tips you need for perfecting your split, plus the stretches that will get you there.