Splits Stretching Routine

There is something inherently desirable about being able to do the splits. For most people, it’s the ultimate display of flexibility. My approach to stretching is constantly being refined, and there is a little day-to-day variation, but this represents my current splits routine.

Warming Up

The warm up I use depends on what proceeds my stretching routine. There are typically three scenarios for me:

  1. I stretch after a workout at the gym. In this case, I’m already really warm so I don’t need a general warm up and can get on with stretching.
  2. I stretch after a Yoga practice. Once again, I’m already warm so I don’t bother with a general warm up.
  3. I’m going in cold. In this case I do something to get me hot. Typically some joint rotations, 50 squats and 50 stiff legged deadlifts with my own body weight. By the time I’ve done that, I’m usually good to go. If I still feel cold I’ll do some more squats and deadlifts until I feel warm.

Once I’m hot I move on to the specifics.

Front Splits

First, I do two reps of 15 seconds on assorted lunges and hamstring stretches.

Front LungeFront Lunge Knee DownForward FoldHamstring Stretch

Now it’s time to work on front splits. I do three sets of PNF on each side, with a single set consisting of:

  • Slide into my maximum front split.
  • Contract against the stretch (see Isometric Stretches) for about 5 seconds.
  • Relax the tension and sink a little further into the stretch.
  • Repeat the contract-relax cycle 2-3 more times.
  • After the last contract-relax cycle, hold a contraction for 30 seconds.
  • Relax and move out of the stretch.

When doing front splits, I alternate sides for each set, so I don’t need to rest between sets.

The level of intensity I use for the contractions varies depending on how I feel on the day. I find front splits much more difficult than side splits, so I have to take it a bit easier.

Side Splits

If I feel I still need a little more heat after the warm up, I hold a horse stance (wide-legged squat) for as long as I can.

Horse Stance

Next, I move on to side lunges. I do two reps of 15 seconds on each side. Depending on the feel of this I may do more reps or hold for longer. There’s no point rushing into the splits if the lunges feel bad.

Side Lunge

Now it’s time to work on side splits. I do three sets of PNF, with a single set consisting of:

  • Slide into my maximum side split. I typically use Road Kill splits when doing PNF.
  • Contract against the stretch (see Isometric Stretches) for about 5 seconds.
  • Relax the tension and sink a little further into the stretch.
  • Repeat the contract-relax cycle 2-3 more times.
  • After the last contract-relax cycle, hold a contraction for 30 seconds.
  • Briefly move into regular side splits, then side splits with my toes pointing upwards.
  • Relax and move out of the stretch.
  • Rest for 45-60 seconds.

Road Kill SplitsSide SplitsSide Splits Toes Up

The amount of effort I put into the side splits sequence depends on how I’m feeling. On a good day I might raise my feel on blocks and do over-splits, on a bad day I might only do short, gentle contractions, or even miss them out altogether. The point here is I adjust it depending on how I feel on the day.

If my knees feel a little sore doing side splits, I may use one of the following stretches to hit my adductors, without stressing the knees.

Butterfly StretchFrog Stretch

Note. The position of your arms may differ from those in the diagrams. In most postures the position of the arms is irrelevant, and my artistic skills are limited. :)

Cheers

Tim…