The center splits is one of most impressive ways to showcase your flexibility. It involves extending the legs in opposite directions until they form a 180 degree angle, which is useful in array of physical activities, including gymnastics, martial arts and dance. The only way to achieve a complete center splits is through rigorous and repeated stretching. This article will show you some of the best exercises for increasing flexibility, along with some tips on how you can achieve center splits quickly and safely.
EditStretching Your Way to Splits
- Do a butterfly stretch. The butterfly stretch is a great stretch for the center splits as it increases flexibility in the inner thighs, the groin and the hips. To perform:
- Sit on the floor and bend your knees until the soles of your feet are touching. Pull your heels as close towards your body as possible and use your elbows to push your knees towards the floor.
- Make sure to sit upright with your back straight. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
- To deepen the stretch, lean forward as far as you can and place your hands on the floor in front of your feet. Keep your back straight and your knees pressed to the floor.
- Do a pancake stretch. The pancake stretch is used by gymnasts to increase their flexibility and prepare for the center splits. To perform:
- Sit on the floor and spread your legs as wide as possible into a straddle position. Make sure that your legs are completely straight and that your toes are pointed.
- Keeping your back straight, lean forward as far as you can with your arms stretched out in front of you. Try to touch your chest to the floor, so your body is completely flat – just like a pancake!
- To deepen the stretch, try to grab your feet with your hands, while keeping the rest of your body flat to the ground. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
- Touch your toes. Touching your toes stretches your leg muscles and increases flexibility in the hamstrings, which is great for center splits. This stretch can be performed in a seated or standing position.
- To perform the stretch while standing, stand with your feet together and your legs straight. Reach down and attempt to touch your toes with your fingertips. Don’t bend your knees and try to place your weight on the balls of your feet, rather than your heels. Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
- To perform the stretch while seated, sit with your legs stretched out straight in front of you and lean forward (keeping your back straight) until your touch your toes with your fingers. As you grow more flexible, try to grab the soles of your feet with your hands, in order to increase the stretch.
- Do a bent knees stretch. This stretch increases flexibility in the groin and hips. If you can perform it correctly, you are well on your way to achieving center splits.
- Kneel on the floor and place your hands on the ground in front of you for balance. Move your knees outwards – as far from your body as possible – until they form 90 degree angles. There should be a straight line running from one knee to the other.
- Move your weight from your hands to your elbows, to get deeper into the stretch. The goal is to get your hips flat on the ground, while maintaining the 90 degree angle with your knees. Once you have achieved the correct position, hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- Do half squats. The half squat is a useful exercise for stretching the inner thighs. To perform:
- Hunker down into a low squatting position. Shift your weight onto your right leg and stretch your left leg straight out to the side, as if you were doing the center splits with that leg. Make sure to point your toes.
- Place your right hand on the floor (in front of your right leg) for balance and use your elbow to push the knees outwards until you feel a firm stretch in the inner thighs.
- Hold for 60 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
- Do standing leg stretches. These simple leg stretches are essential when training to do the splits, as they increase flexibility in all of the necessary muscles. They are commonly used in martial arts training as preparation for the center splits.
- To begin, stand up straight and place your feet two shoulder widths apart. Bend forwards at the hips, keeping your legs completely straight. Let your body hang down and try to place your palms on the ground. As flexibility increases, try to get your elbows on the ground. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- Next your can try ankle grabs. Lean to the right and grab the right ankle with both hands, then lean to the left and repeat with the left ankle. When holding these stretches, make sure that your hips are level rather than tilted to the side, otherwise the stretch will not be as effective.
- Next, try grabbing both ankles at the same time, bringing your chest as close to your knees as possible. Keep your back straight and relax your neck muscles so that your head is hanging straight down.
- Practice your full center split. Of course, one of the best ways to achieve center splits is to practice doing center splits. The safest, most effective way to do this is as follows:
- Hunker down into a low squat and place both hands on the floor in front of you. Then, slowly begin to walk or slide both feet outwards, as far apart as you can manage.
- Your legs should be completely straight and your feet should be parallel as you lower yourself down into the stretch. Many people make the mistake of lowering themselves down by rolling back on their heels, but this will not provide as effective of a stretch and could cause injury. Your toes should only point outwards when you have achieved the full splits.
- Hold the stretch for as long as you can, then slowly come back into a squatting position to rest your muscles. When you feel ready, lower yourself back into the splits position again. Alternating between squatting and stretching will help you to get lower down each time you attempt the center splits.
- As you stretch, remember to keep your back straight and your hips in line with your legs. If your hips are too far forward or too far back, you will not be able to perform a center split correctly.
- The goal is to lower yourself down until your groin touches the floor. Once you have achieved this, you can try to roll your hips until you are sitting in an upright position, while maintaining a center splits.
- Remember to move slowly and breathe evenly. Do not push yourself too hard. You should feel a tight stretch in your inner thigh and groin muscles, but it should not feel painful. If you feel any discomfort or tearing sensations, come out of the stretch immediately.
EditAchieving the Splits Quickly Yet Safely
- Always warm up before you stretch. It is essential that you warm up before you stretch, in order to avoid injury and maximize your natural flexibility.
- Try doing jumping jacks or running on the spot for a few minutes before you begin your stretching routine.
- Alternatively, do your stretching at the end of a cardio workout . You will get the double benefit of increasing your flexibility while preventing muscle stiffness after your workout.
- Stretch every day. Achieving the center splits requires a high level of flexibility, and flexibility is something that needs to be worked at consistently over time. In order to achieve the flexibility required for center splits, you need to be stretching every single day, or as close to it as possible.
- Begin by stretching for 15 minutes a day, using a routine comprised of the stretching exercises outlined above. After a couple of weeks, increase the time spent stretching to 30 minutes a day, if possible. You can break this up into two 15 minute sessions a day.
- Remember that the more stretching you do, the faster you will achieve center splits.
- Enlist the help of a friend. When stretching for the center splits, it can be very useful to enlist the help of a friend.
- Your friend can help by observing your posture, which can be difficult to correct by yourself. Ask them to make sure that your hips are in line and your shoulders are even. This is important as poor posture can affect the quality of your stretching and even cause injuries.
- A friend can also help you to deepen your splits by pushing down lightly on your shoulders or legs as you stretch. This can help you to get a fraction or two deeper into your stretch than you could on your own. Just make sure that they will respond quickly if you ask them to stop.
- Wear socks. One simple tip that can help you to deepen your splits is to wear socks while you stretch, rather than stretching in your bare feet.
- The socks will allow your feet to slide easily along the ground, helping you to get deeper into the stretch. This is more effective on wooden floors than on carpet.
- However, make sure that you slide into the stretch in a careful and controlled fashion. Sliding too quickly may cause you to pull a muscle or tear ligaments.
- For safety, most of your body weight should be supported by your arms as you slide into a center split.
- Find a practice space that works for you. When working towards the center splits, it is important that you find a suitable environment for stretching and practice. The type of environment that works best for you will depend on personal preference.
- Some people prefer to practice their center splits in a quiet, peaceful environment. They consider their stretching routine to be a type of meditation, where they can clear their mind and focus only on the sensations of their body.
- Other people find stretching a chore and need something to entertain themselves as they go through their routine. For example, some people like to watch television to distract themselves as they stretch.
- Know your limits. The ability to perform the center splits is an impressive physical feat which requires discipline and perseverance to achieve. However, it is also important that you know your limits and refrain from pushing yourself past them in order to achieve your goal.
- Pushing yourself too hard will only result in injury, which could potentially prevent you from ever being able to do the splits.
- To safely yet effectively achieve the center splits, perform each stretch slowly and carefully, paying close attention to maintaining the correct posture. Listen to your body and you will soon achieve your goal!
- Always breathe out (exhale) while going into a split, this will help you get farther into your split.
- Be Patient. If you are a beginner and you don’t get it the first time, just keep on practicing.
- Remember that it takes months to accomplish this, not hours.
- You could also do wall splits. That is when you face the wall and stretch your legs out as if you we’re going to do a split. Go as far as you can until you feel a stretch in your legs.
- Don’t push yourself too far. This won’t help your splits. It will make your splits worse due to leg injury.
- Be aware that some body types will never be able to achieve full center splits, no matter how much stretching they do.
EditSources and Citations
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