Updated: Feb 28, 2021
Splits! An amazing party trick, a super common pose in dance, aerial, performing, etc., and a super hard skill! I have 5 exercises that will help you achieve your front split!
~Why can't I get my front splits?~
Front splits are so challenging because they are deceivingly difficult. So much of the time, we focus on just stretching, but not strengthening. In front splits, not only do the hamstrings and hip flexors need to be stretched out, but they also need to be strong. And in addition to that, the glutes, quad, and back need to be engaged during the split! "Umm excuse me Rochelle, that is so much happening, plz chill." I know, I know, but by having all of these muscles engaged, it helps to prevent muscle strain and possible injury.
"Sitting" in the front split is something I see quite often. What I mean by sitting in front split is putting most of your body weight in the front leg, making you "sit" in the front hip. When we sit, we have ZERO glute engagement, most of the stretch goes to the front leg hamstring, and there is no stretch in the back leg hip flexor. And then our poor little hamstring is trying to do the work of multiple other muscles. Poor bébé hamstring! When we sit, we are not actively stretching. We have zero muscle engagement and this can lead to muscle strain and injury (no good). If you have any other goals that build off of split, you have to be in an active split. So even though "sitting" in front split is so tempting, we have to try to stay active in the split and keep multiple muscles turned on.
~5 essential exercises for that front split~
There are a million stretches you can do for front split. The following 5 exercises are what I believe are essential for getting your front split. I always do these 5 exercises before I get into split and I have seen my students make amazing progress using these drills. These 5 exercises alone will not solve your front split problems...you need to stretch and condition the legs, hips, and glutes with other exercises. Make sure the hips, legs, and glutes are nice and warm before attempting these! I have lots of yum stretching videos on my subscription page: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility
Calf stretch: stretch out those calves! If they are tight, it can make stretching the hamstring impossible.
Front kicks: I love a good kick! They stretch and strengthen so much of the leg and glute!
Low lunge: literally my favorite! Get into that hip flexor and stretch her out! How can you get into your hip flexor best? Leaning forward? Staying upright? Play around with different positioning for your upper body.
Low lunge, straightening and bending the back knee: keep your hips where they are and straighten and bend the back knee. Keep the glutes turned on and hips even. Wow, wow, wow!
Pigeon: an amazing way to see if the glutes can turn on. See if you "sit" in pigeon...do you? If you are, try to engage the glute and stay active. Practicing staying active in pigeon helps you know what split engagement should feel like.
~"But Rochelle, I need to see you do these drills"~
And you can! Head over to my Vimeo page (https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility )
and subscribe! I have a video of me showing and explaining all 5 of these drills!