How to do the splits? Step-by-Step Instructions Without Hurting Yourself

The myth that stretching is painful, scares away many people from any attempt to do splits. In fact, strong pain is an obstacle to relaxing your muscles and ligaments, which means it is an obstacle to stretching progress. But also, severe pain is a risk of sprains and other injuries. When working on a stretch, stretching to a medium level of discomfort and no more is sufficient. In this article we’ll explore how to do the splits and some tips to get you stated.

The next misconception – good flexibility can only be achieved in childhood. Of course, in childhood, muscles and ligaments are more flexible. But this does not mean that in adulthood, you can not do splits. All in your hands, you just might need a little more time.

Every day stretching.

The main thing in stretching training is regularity. You should not stretch daily. The optimal variant is 3-4 stretching trainings per week lasting 20-40 minutes.


Before you start training directly, you must understand that neither muscles, ligaments nor tendons are physically stretched. We can increase the distance between our attachment points only by changing the muscles’ tonus. Our task is to change the tone of the muscle fiber, not to make it longer. If we understand this, it becomes clear that there is no point in physically stretching the muscle trying to physically push it. We need to influence the brain, whose task is to protect the body from injury. Therefore it is necessary to do all exercises for heating and stretching without strong painful sensations. Do all the exercises on breathing.

Myotatic reflex in stretching.

The task of ligaments is to fix and limit certain movements in the joints. That is, they do not stretch at all, just like the tendons.

To make a stretch as effective as possible without the risk of injury, we suggest doing the following:

  • Breathe deep while doing the exercise. This will give the brain an extra signal and it will switch to breathing a little, thus relaxing the muscle that we are pulling.
  • Tighten the antagonist muscle. For example, when you stretch the right longitudinal split, try pulling the sock of your right leg on yourself (the tension under the knee will increase), then strain the front thigh of your right leg (the knee is even more level), and then breathe deeply. In this position, you will feel the tension in the body switches from the stretched muscle to other parts of the body.
  • If you don’t have enough strength to stretch, you can ask for help. But! You don’t have to ask to be laid down or pulled with great effort. It’s enough for your assistant to just guide you by his hands. For example, when you do the right split, it is enough for your assistant to direct the hips with his hands to a level position. Then the tension in the area of the front thigh of the hind leg will increase.


In this article, we will offer you several exercises that you can alternate on different training days, or do the whole complex on each training session.

Before stretching – be sure to warm up. You need to prepare your muscles for such a load. You can try warming up like this.

Preparatory exercises for longitudinal split

To do the right or left split, you need to warm up the back of the hip and the hamstrings.

Sit on the floor, stretch your legs forward, tilt into a fold. IMPORTANT: do not round your back, stretch with a flat back. When we stretch with a rounded back, the back is not the back of the hip or the hamstrings.

Forward bend stretch - image of young lady doing this in front room, head touching her knees
Photo by Marta Wave via Pexels

The more actively the feet are stretched on themselves, the more the hamstrings are stretched. Do the exercise for about a minute statically. Then do 10 active tilts with even back, touching the feet with your hands.

Then we bend one leg on the passe. Pull the bent knee to the floor. We stretch out the hand of the same name with the bent leg upwards and go diagonally to the flat leg. That is, we stretch a little in a twist.

What exactly is hyperbolic Stretching? An athletic young man and lady stretching in the gym
Photo by VitalikRadko on Lightfield Studios

Do the same thing on the other leg.

Doing the stretching exercises you can stretch in a static position or a little “wobble”. But! Swinging should be as soft as possible and accompanied by correct breathing: do a small effort to exhale and relax on inhalation.

In addition to the patellar ligaments, we should stretch the front thigh surface. This is the most clogged area of the legs, because even when walking these muscles strain. A variety of forward impacts on both legs are well suited for this purpose:

Lunging stretch by women in a dance studio
Photo by Elina Fairytale on Unsplash
  • put the right foot forward with the foot turned outward, keep the angle of the front knee at least 90 degrees;
  • we put the foot of the back (left) leg on a rise;
  • watch your posture – it must be flat, the blades must be together;
  • watch out for hips and shoulders – do not turn your hip to the side, and shoulders – be sure to keep it straight;
  • if it’s easy for you in this position, put your hands on the lower back and press the left thigh down slightly with your hands, you’ll feel exactly how the front surface of the left leg is stretched;
  • after – try to bend them back leg in the knee and pull it up with the same hand, you should feel it stretching in the front thigh area of the back leg.

After the preparatory exercises, try to sit on the longitudinal right twine. Remember to breathe deeply and relax.

Repeat the same on the second leg.

Preparation exercises for transverse split


Butterfly stretch - man doing the stretches outside
Photo by Scott Broom on Unsplash

Sit down evenly, conveniently place pelvic bones on the mat, bend the legs in the knees and spread the knees to the sides with a straight back. Foot are kept together. Sitting in this position (and always with a flat back) try with effort to open the knees to the side to the floor. Do such 10 pushes with the knees. Then put our hands back behind the lower back and do 10 more such knees movements. Try to do everything smoothly and without sharp movements.


As a preparatory movement you can make two variations of the frog: lying on the back and on the stomach.

The frog on the back will be suitable for those who have an assistant. Lie on the back, press the lower back to the floor and do not lift it while doing the exercise. Then bend your legs in your knees, putting your feet together. Spread your knees apart. A person who helps you can push your knees and thighs slightly to the side. Then move your feet a little further, i.e. make a corner in your hips a little more, and stretch in this position again. This is a static exercise, smooth, no need to do any jiggling or jerking.

If you stretch alone, try the frog on your stomach. We sit as if on a cross twine, but with bent knees, shoulders and chest serve a little forward, hands in front, if it turns out – hands on the forearms.

In this position, you can also make small smooth rolls back and forth. Then try to roll your hips back a little, screw your coccyx in and be in this position for another 10 counts.

Then smoothly align one leg and do rolling to back and forth. Change the legs and roll again.

After these preparatory exercises, try to sit on a transverse split and stretch it more.


Common mistakes when stretching splits

Mistake №1. When you stretch a longitudinal split, keep your hips level. Very often the hip of the hind leg turns to the side and does not let us stretch the twine to the end. Pay close attention to this during all the exercises for stretching longitudinal twine.

Mistake №2. Performance of preparatory exercises with a round back. Do not forget to straighten your back all the time. Smooth posture will ensure the most effective tension exactly where you need it. A round back does not allow you to exercise effectively enough.

Mistake №3. No warm-up of the muscles. Warm up your body before stretching practice. Do joint gymnastics, squats, plank. Unheated stretching is very traumatic!

Mistake №4 – to stretch out without strength training. Bark and leg muscles, which are in good tone, will be a great bonus for your stretching. Periodically make different curls on the press, plié squats, plank. Tonus in your muscles will help you achieve better stretching results.


Can everybody do a transverse split?

There is an opinion that some people cannot do a transverse split because of the structure of the hip joint. Indeed, we are all different, and physiologically as well. It happens that it is much harder for some people to do the transverse split, but it does not mean that you can not do the split in principle. It’s just that you’ll need more time for that. For this, you will need to work actively on developing and opening the hip joint.

How do you do the splits in one day?

The main rule of stretching – do not try to do a split in one day. Stretching should be moderate and uniform, without jerks and strong painful feelings. Otherwise, you risk getting injured in ligaments. And it hurts and you will have to recover from this injury for a long time.

How to do the splits in a month?

How quickly you can do the splits depends on your level of training, genetics, intensity, and quality of training. In general, doing a split in a month is real. But we recommend not to chase for speed. It is better to reach the goal slower, but confidently and without injury. So you can not just do the split, but to be in it painlessly for a few minutes.

How do guys do the splits?

In stretching, it is more appropriate to consider the physiological specificity of the body rather than based on gender. As a general rule, stretching exercises are equally difficult for girls and boys. It’s just that guys often have more clogged muscles and it leads to difficulties with stretching.


Here’s some more articles about stretching:

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