How to Work up to the Splits

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The splits are a fun and rewarding way for people of all ages and fitness levels to show off their flexibility. You don’t have to be a gymnast, yogi, or fitness enthusiast to pull off this impressive move–you just have to be committed to stretching your muscles and practicing a few times a week. With the right exercises to increase flexibility, you’ll be able to drop into your splits using modifications. With practice and dedication, you’ll be trying the full splits in no time.


[Edit]Stretching to Increase Your Flexibility

  1. Exercise lightly to loosen up your muscles. A great time to start your stretches is right after you’ve worked out, when your muscles are still warm. You can also simply do some light aerobic exercise for five to ten minutes to loosen and warm up your muscles. Jog, do some jumping jacks, or go for a quick bike ride.[1]
  2. Step into a low lunge. Starting in a downward dog pose to maintain a good flow, step one foot forward between your hands. Slowly lower your back leg until it reaches the ground, keeping your front foot over your ankle. When you’re ready, slowly shift your hands onto your thighs and straighten. Hold the pose for five deep breaths, then switch legs and repeat.[2]
    Work up to the Splits Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • To do a downward dog pose, stand and bend from your waist towards the floor, then extend your legs back into a plank position. Push your hips up into an upside-down V pose, letting your heels fall towards the floor.
  3. Go into a lizard pose. From your low lunge position, flex your front foot and let your front knee fall out to the side, staying about a foot in the air. Your back knee should still be resting on the ground. Hold the pose for thirty seconds, bringing your forearms to the mat for a deeper stretch if you’re more flexible. Switch legs after 30 seconds.[3]
    Work up to the Splits Step 3 Version 3.jpg
  4. Sink into a pigeon pose if you’re more flexible.[4] From your lizard pose, slide your front foot across your body, keeping it resting on the floor as you do so. Let your front knee fall all the way to the floor, or as far as is comfortable. Lean down onto your elbows and hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.[5]
    Work up to the Splits Step 4 Version 2.jpg
  5. Try a single-leg bend to stretch your hamstrings. From a low lunge position, lengthen both of your legs and lift your hips up. Your legs will both be straight and one will be in front of the other. Slide your back heel so that your toes are pointing away from your body, while keeping your hips facing forward. Bend your upper body from the waist and reach towards the floor to feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Hold this pose for at least five breaths, then repeat on the other side.[6]
    Work up to the Splits Step 5 Version 3.jpg
  6. Go into a seated forward fold. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and lean forward from your hips. Stretch your arms toward your feet as far as feels comfortable in your legs and back. Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes; the point is just to lengthen and extend your spine and legs. Relax your head and neck and take five deep breaths.[7]
    Work up to the Splits Step 6 Version 3.jpg
  7. Do a runner’s lunge. Starting from a low lunge, set your back leg on the ground and shift your hips back. Straighten your front leg, keeping your front foot flexed and toes pointing up. Fold from your hips over your front thigh. Hold here for five counts, breathing deeply, then switch legs.[8]
    Work up to the Splits Step 7 Version 3.jpg
    • For a less intense stretch, keep your front leg slightly bent so your muscles can relax.
  8. Open your hips with the butterfly pose. To do a butterfly pose, sit and bend both legs out, letting your knees fall to the ground. Push your feet together and open them so the soles are facing each other. Lean your upper body forward to intensify the stretch and hold for thirty seconds.[9]
    Work up to the Splits Step 8 Version 3.jpg
  9. Get into the frog pose for a more intense hip stretch. Move onto your hands and knees, flexing your feet. Slowly slide your knees outwards and lower your hips closer to the ground, as far as you feel comfortable. Place your elbows on the ground and lean your weight backwards into your hips for the most intense stretch. Hold for thirty seconds. To lift out of the pose, place your hands flat on the ground and slowly lift your hips up.[10]
    Work up to the Splits Step 9 Version 3.jpg
    • If you feel any strain or pain in your knees, stop and return to butterfly pose.
  10. Go through your stretching routine three to four times a week. Improving your flexibility and working your way up to the splits will take time and commitment. It may take you up to three months to become flexible enough to try a full splits, so be patient with yourself and stay persistent. All your hard work will pay off soon![11]
    Work up to the Splits Step 10 Version 4.jpg

[Edit]Doing the Splits with Modifications

  1. Get into a low lunge position with your hands on two blocks. The blocks can be as high or low as you want and will give you the stability to hold your splits slightly higher. Choose a stable but movable material like wood or hard foam. Make sure your low lunge is stable and comfortable and that you don’t feel any pain or discomfort before moving on.[12]
    Work up to the Splits Step 11 Version 3.jpg
    • You can find blocks at fitness or yoga stores and online.
  2. Release your back leg. Allow your back knee to hit the floor with your toe pointed. Shift your hips backwards and lengthen your front leg as far as you can, leaning your weight on the blocks for support. If your blocks are smaller or easily movable, you can also walk them backwards with your hands to shift your center of balance. Stop immediately if you feel any pain in your legs.[13]
    Work up to the Splits Step 12 Version 3.jpg
  3. Hold this pose and breathe deeply. Stay in your modified split for at least five breaths, allowing your legs to relax into the pose. Slowly swing your back leg around to release the pose, then repeat with your other leg forward.[14]
    Work up to the Splits Step 13 Version 3.jpg
  4. Place a block beneath your thigh for a more supportive modification. Starting again from your forward lunge, slowly straighten both legs and walk your hands back on the ground, tenting your fingertips for extra space. Slide a block underneath your front leg, placing it below your thigh and above your knee. This will give your leg support if you can’t reach all the way to the ground just yet.[15]
    Work up to the Splits Step 14 Version 3.jpg
  5. Practice your modified splits for about a month. Mix your block-assisted splits in with your stretching routine to further increase your flexibility. Doing these modified exercises will also help you get used to the feeling of doing the splits before attempting the whole thing.
    Work up to the Splits Step 15 Version 4.jpg
    • Take your time and don’t rush your way into a full splits, as this could result in injury. Practice your modified versions for as long as it takes you to feel confident and comfortable doing them.

[Edit]Doing the Full Splits

  1. Slide your front foot forward from the low lunge. Once you can complete the splits with block modifications, it’s time to try the real thing! Start the same as you would with the modified moves, with a back lunge. Straighten out your back leg and then your front leg. Take your time and remember to breathe and stay relaxed as you slide lower.[16]
    Work up to the Splits Step 16 Version 2.jpg
  2. Slowly slide your legs apart as far as is comfortable.[17] Continue holding yourself up with your hands for balance and support. Flex your front foot and keep your back foot pointed, with the top of your foot pressed against the ground. This will keep your hips facing forwards. When you get down as far as you can go, breathe and relax into the pose. Enjoy the stretch and be proud of yourself for completing a difficult move!
    Work up to the Splits Step 17 Version 2.jpg
    • It’s normal to feel a gentle or moderate pressure on your hip flexors and hamstrings. Stop immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort, especially in your knees.[18]
  3. Swing your back leg forward to release the pose. Rock your weight onto your front leg, then onto the hand resting next to it on the ground. Tilt your body to that side and slowly swing your back leg forward.[19]
    Work up to the Splits Step 18 Version 2.jpg
  4. Stretch your hamstrings afterwards. Stay seated on the ground with both legs stretched out in front of you. Shift the fleshy parts of your glutes to the side so your pelvis is closer to the floor. Reach your hands up, taking a deep breath as you lengthen your spine, then exhale and fold from the waist. Reach for your toes or ankles and feel the deep stretch in your hamstrings. Sit up slowly. [20]
    Work up to the Splits Step 19 Version 2.jpg
  5. Practice your splits to maintain flexibility.[21] Congratulations – you’ve completed the full splits! Allow yourself to take pride in what your body can do. Continue practicing your splits and stretches to keep up your flexibility.[22] If you are not fully down in the split position, do not bend your back leg, straighten it so that you are in a similar position of the splits.
    Work up to the Splits Step 20 Version 2.jpg
    • Remember to always listen to your body and stop immediately if you feel any pain.


  • If you have any injuries, such as a pulled muscle, or chronic conditions like arthritis, talk to your doctor before trying the splits. Even if you’re healthy, take it slow and listen to your body while you stretch and lower down.[23]

[Edit]Related wikiHows

  • Stretch Hamstrings
  • Do a Chinese Split
  • Stretch Your Inner Thighs


  4. [v161616_b01]. 26 August 2020.
  17. [v161424_b01]. 22 May 2020.
  21. [v161616_b01]. 26 August 2020.
  22. [v161424_b01]. 22 May 2020.

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