They may look like a simple acrobatic move when performed by an adept gymnast; however, splits require practice to perfect the natural and poised appearance that enhances floor, beam, parallel bar and vault exercises. Splits require flexibility and balance so that the legs can move apart fluidly to create a 180-degree straight line. If you want to improve your routine in a short period of time, add splits to your pre-workout stretches.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Warm up your muscles. Begin with an aerobic exercise such as light jogging, jump roping or floor exercises. Warming up loosens your muscles so they become more limber.
Stretch your leg muscles. Stand with your legs together and touch your toes without bending your knees. Hold for at least 20 seconds to stretch your hamstrings and calf muscles. Sit on the floor with your legs together and pull your toes toward you for 20 seconds to continue stretching the same muscles.
Perform a straddle stretch. Spread your legs into a straddle position, pointing your toes. Reach your arms toward each foot for 20 seconds and toward the middle for 20 seconds. This stretches your hamstrings, quadriceps and groin muscles.
Stretch your quadriceps. Stand on your left leg and bend your right leg so that your knee points downward. Use your right hand to hold your right ankle against your backside for 20 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Begin your split. Place one foot in front of the other and extend the front foot forward while extending the back foot backward to try a front-leg split. To try a middle split, place your legs in the straddle position and move them to the sides at the same time. Keep your legs straight and go down as far as possible. Use your arms and hands to balance yourself, touching the ground if necessary. Hold the split for as long as you can.
Take a break to relax your muscles. Repeat the split. The goal is for your muscles to become more relaxed through repetition so you can eventually reach the ground in the split position. Practice splits daily.
Tips and warnings
- Splits can be uncomfortable because they stretch your muscles; however, if you feel sharp pain, discontinue the split immediately to avoid injury.
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