If you're interested in improving your flexibility for the middle splits as an adult, look no further! Middle splits not only look impressive, but they also have numerous benefits for your health and wellbeing. In this blog post, we'll explore what middle splits are, the benefits of achieving them, and how you can work towards mastering this type of split. I will also be sharing my favorite drills and warm up routines!
I remember the first time I did a middle splits as an adult, it was end of 2016. 10 years have passed since I last did a middle split. So the split itself was not unfamiliar to me... however, years of sitting, not working on my external hip rotation and not stretching the legs reduced drastically my ability to stretch my legs out. Basically, those 10 years made my external hip rotation to be almost non-existent.
What are the Middle Splits?
Middle splits involve stretching your legs out to the side until your hips are opened to their maximum degree, ideally creating a 180-degree angle between your legs. This type of splits require flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and adductors; as well as hip mobility. They are considered one of the most challenging stretches to achieve, and either you are gifted at it, or you need to work hard to get them. Even then, many will never be able to achieve a 180-degree angle because of their hip joint. If forced, it can even lead to chronic pain like hip impingement.
What are the Challenges to get the Middle Splits?
Getting the middle splits as an adult can be challenging for several reasons. In the next lines we mention some of the most common ones:
1. Limited flexibility
As mentioned above, achieving middle splits requires a high degree of mobility in the hip joint - specifically the external hip rotation. On top, you also need flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and adductors. Due to a sedentary lifestyle, injury, or genetics many people have already limited mobility and flexibility in these areas. Throughout my years practicing myself, but also coaching other adults; I saw that either you are gifted, or you need to work hard on that external rotation.
2. Lack of consistent practice
One of the biggest mistakes of people trying to improve their flexibility is being inconsistent. Like other flexible poses, achieving middle splits requires consistent practice over a prolonged period. It's not enough to stretch for a few minutes one day a week. You need to commit to a targeted and regular stretching routine that gradually increases in intensity. For this reason, I try to always include different middle split stretching exercises in the online classes I teach, or also in my YouTube routines.
3. Incorrect technique
Many people try to force their way into the splits by pushing their legs apart with their hands, having wrong alignment or using momentum to drop into the split. However, this can cause injury, and even prevent progress. In the 6 Days FREE Splits Challenge we learn the correct technique to get into the middle splits, including what muscle groups need to be engaged to gradually ease yourself into the stretch.
4. Fear and mental barriers
Fear of pain or injury can prevent some people from fully committing to the stretch. Additionally, some people may have mental barriers that prevent them from believing they can achieve the splits, like I did. Overcoming these barriers requires patience, persistence, and a positive mindset. Maybe not all of us can get the 180-degrees split, but we all can improve our external hip rotation and get closer towards the floor!
Overall, working in your hip flexibility, adductor flexibility and hamstring flexibility will help you overcoming these challenges. But you also need to improve the range of motion of your hip joint! So check out this flexibility routine, where we will be focusing on the external hip rotation.
Benefits of Middle Splits
Apart from looking aesthetically impressive, the middle splits have several benefits that will make you want to practice them even more:
1. Increased Flexibility
As mentioned, middle splits require a high degree of flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and adductors. By working towards achieving this flexibility goal, you'll also improve your overall flexibility in these areas. Consequently, you will feel more agile in your daily life... and also in your sex life!
2. Improved Range of Motion
Middle splits can help improve your range of motion, making it easier to perform activities such as kicking, jumping, and dancing. Therefore, you will also have less chances to get an injury if you suddenly do an abrupt movement with your legs or hips.
3. Reduced Risk of Injury
Following the previous point, flexibility training can help reduce the risk of injury by increasing joint mobility and improving muscle flexibility. Who else have friends that have gotten injury from sudden movements, e.g. playing football?
4. Improved Posture
Middle splits can help improve your posture by strengthening the muscles in your core and back, muscle groups that support the spine. This type of splits involved lot of core engagement to keep the pelvis tucked. It may look like you only need leg and hip flexibility but, if you want to stay safe, abdominal strength - specially the low core - it is essential!
How to Achieve Middle Splits
Achieving middle splits requires patience, dedication, and consistent practice. It is a beautiful and painful journey.. and staying consistent is essential to see results.
Here are some tips to help you work towards your middle splits:
Learn about your body mechanics: If you want to make progress, you need to work targeted. Unfortunately, many do not know how to do this, cause they don't have anyone guiding them, or their coaches do not have enough experience working with adults. Every time I have a new client, always adults with no flexibility background, I do an assessment to see where they stand in their flexibility and also mind-body connection. If you never get to understand your natural body mechanics, you will probably struggle seeing progress in your flexibility training!
Warm-up: Before you start to stretch, specially when you are an adult, it's essential to warm up your muscles to prevent injury. Warm up can be from 10-minutes to 20 minutes, depending on the time you have. The warm-up that includes dynamic stretches and light cardio can help prepare your body for the middle splits stretch. But also, a warm up like in this class, where we activate the joint mobility and the muscle groups for middle splits, work pretty nicely.
Gradual Progression: Don't try to force your way into the middle splits. Instead, gradually work towards it by increasing the intensity and duration of your stretches over time. In addition, you also want to work in your hip joint's mobility. Having a solid internal and external rotation, will help you improving safely your middle splits. In this live class, we work in both rotations and participants had amazing results!
Flexibility Techniques: There are several stretching techniques that can help improve your flexibility, including passive stretching, dynamic, and isometric stretching. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you. I personally almost never do dynamic stretching, it simply does not work well with my type of body!
Consistency: Consistency is key when it comes to increase your overall flexibility, including the middle splits. Aim to stretch at least 3-4 times per week, gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your stretches; and readjusting the exercises as you progress. Best to stay consistent is to attend to classes, but if you struggle economically, in YouTube you have many free routines.
Patience: Finally, be patient and kind with yourself :) Achieving middle splits can take years of consistent practice (see me, for instance!). Celebrate small victories along the way and focus on progress, not perfection. It is a beautiful journey, promised!
Middle Splits Tips and Drills
The following section is a compilation of drills I have practiced myself that I know it can help anyone that struggles with middle splits, like I did... and I still sometimes do :)
Drill 1: From straddle to middle splits. So many people, specially in the Instagram world, confuse straddle splits with middle splits. Swimming through them like I do in the following video, it will help you improving your hip joint mobility.
Drill 2: Mix of Active flexibility drills with Passive stretching. I love this drill to fire up my whole body. Specially in the first part of the exercise, both lower part of the body and upper part need to be super active!
Drill 3: The days that I feel my hips and legs are well rested and I do not have soreness, I go for the drill below. I would only recommend it to those that can nearly sit, or sit already, comfortable in the middle splits. It gets reeeeeeally deep! I only manage to do it once, at the very end. If you manage to do it twice, you are a champion! :)
Warm up: This overall warm up that I shared on my Instagram a while ago it never gets outdated. If you haven't tried it yet, you need to do it in your next middle split stretching session!
In conclusion, the middle splits are an impressive demonstration of human flexibility that can improve your overall health and wellbeing. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, and training recommendations, you can work towards achieving the middle splits flat no matter your age. Remember to be patient, consistent, and celebrate your progress along the way!