Attaining the Splits
This program is the "quickest" way to achieve the splits, or even just highly increased flexibility leading towards the splits.
A special note here: I am currently doing this program and have not completed it yet - I am still a ways off from full splits. This is based on a collection of knowledge from various sources, both scientific and anecdotal, but has not been completed by me personally. At least give the program a fair try before you dismiss it.
This is still a work in progress, so take everything here with a grain of salt.
Isometric stretching is a type of stretching that involves flexing the muscle that is being stretched. This involves getting yourself into a passive static stretch, that can be held without effort, so that all the effort can be afforded to tensing the muscle that is stretched.
For the purposes of split stretches, tensing the stretched muscles means you will be "pinching" the floor. People with very good split flexibility are usually able to "pinch" the floor so hard that they can raise themselves into a standing position.
There is no magic in this program. The entire program consists of two isometric stretches, 2-3 times per week, with at least one day of rest between sessions. But it is not as simple as it sounds.
There are many ways to perform an isometric stretch. The one used in this program is as follows: get into a stretched position. Spend about 10s in the position, to make sure you're near your maximum stretch.
Now, repeat the following 3-5 times:
- Contract the muscles being stretched, slowly at first until you are at full strength after about 5 seconds. Continue contracting for a total of 10s.
- Release the contraction but don't move at all. Relax for 2-3 seconds
- Push deeper into the stretch for 4-5 seconds.
When you have completed this 3-5 times, and have reached the point where you cannot push any deeper into the stretch, contact the muscles again for 30 to 60 seconds. It's recommended to start with 30 seconds, and add 5 seconds every session until you reach 60. Squeeze as hard as you can. This is the final stretch - give it everything you have
Do this for the true front split (both left and right) and the side split. If you want to spend some extra time stretching, adding both left and right open front splits is acceptible too
The Front Split
Begin in a kneeling lunge. Spend a few seconds stretching the back leg. And then shift your weight backward, straightening the front leg in a kneeling hamstring stretch. Spend a few seconds stretching the front leg.
There are two ways to rotate the rear leg in a front split. When the top of the foot is on the floor, this is called a "true front split". When the toes are rotated to the side, this is called an "open front split". An open front split is easier to achieve, and stretches the adductors of the rear leg more than the rectus femoris. Considering the side split stretches already cover the adductors, we will be using the true front split in this program.
From the kneeling hamstring stretch above, place your hands on the ground and slide your front leg forward. Lift the knee of the rear leg off the ground and keep the hips rotated forward.
Focus on keeping both legs straight with locked knees and pinch the ground for your required time. Eventually, you will also want to attempt to remove your hands from the ground and sit up straight, but this will come with time.
When the time is up, lower the back knee and repeat for the other side.
The Side Split
This one is much easier to explain. Begin in the Standing Straddle from Starting Stretching. Spend a few seconds here and increase the stretch to near maximum. With an object, such as a chair, in front of you, hold onto it and take some weight off of your legs (but do not lean forward).
Now, pinch the floor, keeping your hips, knees, and ankles in a line. Keep the feet pointed forward. Eventually work toward releasing the chair and putting all of your weight on your legs as you squeeze, but just like the front split, this will come with time.
When your time is up, use the chair to aid walking your feet back together so that you can stand up again.
This can be done on rest days, or on workout days. At first, the DOMS might be severe, but it will get better with time.
If time is short, it might be beneficial to stretch JUST an open front split. This allows you to target both hamstrings and adductors with one stretch.
Remember to focus not on stretching as much as possible, but on squeezing as much as possible. The gains here are made due to the addition of isometric contraction
Keep it up, and you'll see significant gains in very short time. Always remember: you get out what you put in. If you're only tensing at half effort, you'll get slower gains.