This book is a great starting place to gain an understanding of how to performsplits. It is designed for use in the gym or at home, and for coaches, parents, andgymnasts.Splits are all about flexibility, and it takes a great deal of training to become flexibleenough to execute them. This flexibility is achieved by doing different types ofstretches that focus on the hamstrings, quadriceps, thighs, and hip flexors. Yourwarm-up will include a lot of stretching exercises that will help you become flexibleenough to execute splits.Splits are used not only in gymnastics but also in dancing, cheerleading, martialarts, synchronized swimming, and more.Let’s begin your journey into learning about splits and the basic skills required toexecute them.
Each stretch should be held for a minimum of 20 seconds. During the first six sec-onds of the stretch, your muscles will naturally fight against your attempt to extendbeyond your flexibility range. After six seconds, your muscles will relax and allowyou to go beyond your natural range.
How long will learning splits take?
This question has no single answer. There are many factors to consider; your nat-ural ability, how often you stretch, amount of practice time, and your age.Every day!
Some people are naturally more flexible than others. If you are not naturally flex-ible, you can still reach your goal of doing the splits, but you will need to spendmore time stretching than those who have a natural ability.
How Often You Stretch
If you haven’t reached the full split yet, then you will have to work on the stretchesfive to seven times a week. When you do reach your split, you still must regularlywork on your stretches to maintain flexibility. There is no shortcut.
Amount of Practice Time
A minimum of 15 minutes per session is required to work on your split stretches.Also remember that you will need about the same amount of time warming up be-fore beginning your split stretches.
Most people are born very flexible. You become more rigid as you age if you do not
work on maintaining your flexibility. The older you are, the more time you will needto work on your stretches
What is the difference between muscle and tendons? What are we stretching?
Tendons connect muscles to bones, and muscles are connected to tendons. Whenyou stretch, you are stretching both the muscles and the tendons.
Is stretching the same thing as warming up?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. There are many different ways towarm up— running, stretching, swinging your arms, and so on. Your muscles aremost flexible when they are warm, so running, swinging your arms, and jumpingare all good methods to get them warmed up. The only problem is that you shouldstretch before running, swinging arms, and jumping! This might seem like a para-dox because you cannot do the one without the other.The solution is simple. You need to start light. Do not begin with a 100 percent all-in run activity. Instead, start with a light jog. The same goes for stretching: Starteasy, get your body loosened up and your blood flowing, and gradually increase theintensity
Always keep your toes pointed when doing splits and stretching exercises.Some stretching exercises require you to flex (bend) your feet. Instructions forthese exercises will explicitly state that you should flex your foot; otherwise, alwayskeep your toes pointed.A common mistake many new gymnasts make is to slightly point with the foot andcurl with the toes to compensate for a lack of flexibility.
Pointed Toes (Correct)
When performing a front split, your hips should be squared. Your hips are squaredwhen they are aligned with your body.The two illustrations on this page are nearly identical, but if you look closely at thegymnast’s hips, you will see that one has aligned hips and the other has her hipsturned out.It is important to make sure that your hips are squared. Coaches must always keepan eye on their gymnasts to ensure that they have correct form.Having your hips squared will also make doing a full split a little more difficult.
Hips Turned In (Wrong)
Front Split Lower Back Position
When performing a front split, your back will create a natural arch if done correctly.Your torso should be above your hips; this will create the natural arch. This is notan easy position to get into if you are just learning to perform the splits. Alwayspractice getting into this position.Most gymnasts beginning to learn the splits will tend to lean forward. If you findyourself in this position, try placing your hands behind your hips and your torsoabove your hips.
Middle Split: Lower Back Position
When performing the middle split, your lower back should not arch. You want yourlower back to be straight and aligned with your body.A common mistake that gymnasts make is to roll the knees forward; this will causeyour back to arch. Your knees should point toward the ceiling.
Knees and FeetYour front knee and foot should face toward the ceiling. Your back knee and footshould face toward the floor.It is common for new gymnasts to turn the back knee and foot out. This usually re-sults in the hips not being squared, which is incorrect.
Muscle Groups in splits
Being able to perform splits is all about flexibility, which means you, must work oncertain muscles and get them flexible enough to perform the splits. This chaptercovers the primary muscles affected by the stretches that will to increase flexibility.It is not necessary to have thorough knowledge of your muscles to do the stretchesin this book, but it can help you know which muscles you should feel when per-forming certain stretches.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles that allow you to lift your knees and bend atthe waist.
The iliopsoas is as collection of two muscles in the inner thigh. This is an impor-tant flexor for the trunk of the hip, such as when you sit up from a lying-down posi-tion.
This is the longest muscle in the human body. This sartorius rotates the thigh side-ways at the hip.
The rectus femoris muscle occupies the front and side of the thigh and is the
primary extensor of the knee.
This muscle group extends the leg at the knee and is important for standing,
walking, and almost all activities involving the legs
The thigh is composed of all of the muscle in front of your body between the pelvis
and the knee.
Your hip flexors, rectus femoris, and quadriceps are all parts of your thigh muscles.
The hamstrings help bend the knees and extend the hips.The hamstrings play a crucial role in many activities, such as walking, running,jumping, and controlling movement in the trunk.
The groin is a group of five muscles: adductor magnus, adductor brevis, adductorlongus, pectineus, and gracilis.These muscles allow you to bring your leg in toward the center of your body. Thismovement is performed when kicking.The groin muscles also help to bend the knee and internally rotate and extend thehip.
During walking, running, or jumping, the calf muscle pulls the heel up to allow
Stretches to Splits
This chapter focuses on stretches that will help improve your flexibility. Graduallyincrease your effort on each stretch as your body warms up. Some stretches havesmall variations from other stretches; for example, stretches with flexed feet helpyou get a deeper stretch in your calves.
Pull your feet toward your rear.
•Hold for 20 seconds.
Repeat with the other leg.Note: If you have trouble maintaining balance, use a wall to support yourself.
Standing Pike Stretch
Sandwich (Pointed Toes)
Sandwich (Feet Flexed)
Straight Front Leg Stretch on Knee (Feet Flexed)
Straight Front Leg Stretch on Knee
Kneeling Quad StretchMuscles affected:Thighs
Pancake Side Stretch (Facing Out)
Pancake Side Stretch (Facing Down)
Pancake Side Stretch Facing Down (Feet Flexed)
Lunge StretchMuscles affected:HamstringsThighs
Standing Straight Legs Apart Stretch (Walk Position)
Standing Pancake Stretch
Lunge Stretch from KneeMuscles affected:HamstringsThighs
Lunge Stretch with Elbows DownMuscles affected:HamstringThighs