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What Muscles Does a Split Use?

    The splits involve extending your legs from your body, forming a 180-degree angle with your torso, and aligning your ankles, knees, and hips. But what muscles does a split use?  

    The splits stretch hamstrings, inner thighs, and hip flexors. Although it may not be apparent, the slips also engage your lower back and abdominal muscles. They will increase hip mobility and inner thigh flexibility and lower the risk of back pain.

    What Muscles Does A Split Use tips

    Read on as we explore the benefits of splits and provide some stretches that prepare you for splits. We’ll also introduce some tips to avoid injuries while doing a split.

    If you are in a hurry to see the best products to help you practice your splits and stretches, see the products below.

     

    Muscles Engaged by the Splits 🦵

    If you do the splits regularly, it helps improve hip mobility and increases your range of motion faster than any other thigh or hip-opening stretch.

    It’s also a popular yoga pose as it boosts energy. 

    The move engages the following muscles: 

     

    Hamstrings

    Hamstrings muscles thighs

    Your hamstrings help you bend your knees and extend your hips.

    When you walk, squat, or tilt your pelvis, your hamstrings are engaged.

    Stretching your legs also activates your hamstrings. 

     

    Inner Thighs

    Also called the adductors, the inner thigh muscles are attached to your upper leg bone.

    They stabilize your hips, knees, and lower back.

    So, doing the splits requires that you have strong adductor muscles.  

     

    Hip Flexors

    hip flexors muscles

    The hip flexors are five muscles that allow you to lift or extend your leg from the hips.

    Tightness in these muscles affects the lower back and may even cause neck pains.

    These muscles need to be flexible and strong for doing the splits. 

     

    Glutes

    The glutes are a group of three large muscles opposite your hip flexors. They let you extend your legs behind you.

    They support your weight and let you propel yourself forward when walking or running.

    As you have to extend one leg backward during the splits, the move activates your glutes to a large degree. 

    See more in Should You Stretch Before a Glute Workout?

     

    Lower Back

    These muscles are attached to your spine and let you pick up things and stand up.

    If you feel pain in your lower back muscles when doing the splits, it’s most likely caused by tight hip flexors and hamstrings.  

    Activating and strengthening these muscles leads to a more balanced posture created by stronger hips.

    Since this pose is different from the normal sitting position, it activates muscles in the pelvic floor by shifting body weight onto this area. 

    If you can do the splits, you already have high levels of flexibility in your lower body. 

     

    How to Prepare for the Splits 🤔

    Splits

    The split is an exercise that requires significant skill and effort.

    You can increase your skill in performing the split pose by building the lower body’s muscles, including hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and groin muscles.  

    Below are some of the best workouts that work these muscles and help you prep for the splits.

    Note that depending on your fitness level, you may need to practice for a few weeks or months before you can do the splits without hurting yourself.  

     

    Standing Forward Pose

    Standing Forward Pose

    Begin with standing with your feet together, bring your hands to your hips, and hinge toward your legs.

    Keep the spine extended as you move and place your fingertips on the floor in front of you or next to your feet. 

    Reach the crown of your head toward the floor and draw your shoulders firmly onto the back.

    Keep the stretch for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. 

     

    Active Spiderman Stretch 

    Start with the push-up position. Bring your right knee to your right elbow.

    Keep the other leg straight, drop your hips down and bring your knee next to the floor.

    Stay there for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Switch legs and do 10 to 15 reps.

     

    Side Reclined Hand to Big Toe Pose

    Side Reclined Hand to Big Toe

    Lie on the ground with your legs straight, bring your right leg forward, place a yoga strap or a band around your right foot, and hold it with both hands.

    Extend your leg upward so that your leg makes a 90-degree angle with the lying leg. 

    Pull the strap with your hands and feel the stretch in your quad, hamstring, and hips.

    Now slowly lower your leg to the side, hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, and release. Repeat the movement with the left leg.

     

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    Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

    Kneel and bring one knee to the front.

    Keep your back straight, hinge forward, and put your hands on the ground at your sides.

    Hold on for a few seconds, and then come back up. Now, go for the opposite leg. 

    Check out this video to see how to perform the movement:

     

    Kneeling Adductor Stretch

    Kneel and extend one leg to the side.

    Keep your back straight, hinge forward, and put your hands on the ground.

    Hold for a few seconds and then come up. Then go for the opposite leg. 

    Here’s how to do it:

     

    Happy Baby Pose

    happy baby pose

    Besides giving you a good stretch, this relatively easy movement relieves your anxiety.

    It also stretches your hamstrings and opens your inner thighs. 

    Lie back on your mat. Bend your knees 90 degrees and slowly bring your legs up toward your chest.

    Make sure your head stays flat on the mat. 

    Bring your legs higher such that the soles of your feet face the ceiling. Then reach for your feet and move your knees toward your armpits. 

    Push your tailbone down, hold the stretch for a few seconds, and breathe deeply before releasing.

    You can also rock from side to side, but be gentle. 

     

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    Piriformis Stretch

    Piriformis Stretch

    Start with lying on the ground with your knees bent.

    Place your right knee on the left thigh and grab your left thigh with both hands.

    Now pull up your thigh to feel the stretch. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds, then switch sides.

    Repeat the movement 5 to 10 times for each side.

     

    Half Pigeon Pose

    half pigeon pose

    Put your palms down on a mat and straighten your legs behind you. Then lift your hips toward the ceiling.

    Lift one leg off the ground and bring your knee to the front. Then, rotate your shin so that it’s parallel with your mat. 

    Slowly lower your right buttock towards the ground and press into the hand palms to straighten and lengthen your spine.

    Hold there for 15 seconds, then switch your legs. 

     

    Bent Leg Lunge 

    bent leg lunge

    This stretch is best suited to individuals with an advanced fitness level because it’s trickier than most other stretches.  

    To make the bent leg lunge, go into a regular lunge position with your back leg extended.

    Next, bend the knee of your extended leg and try to grab the ankle or foot of your leg with the opposite hand. 

    To increase the intensity, you can bend your other elbow. Alternatively, you can give your torso a twist to open your entire front body. 

     

    How to Do the Splits 🧐

    How to do the splits tips

    Two common types of splits are front splits and side splits.

    Splits are demanding exercises, but having a stretching routine with the above exercises and being consistent in doing them help you see progress in a few weeks.  

    Here are the steps to do the front splits and side splits.

     

    Front Splits

    How to do front splits

    This split variation requires flexibility in the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, hip flexors, and inner thigh muscles.

    • Get in a lunge position and put your back knee down.
    • Place your hands on either side of your hips while extending your other foot in front of you.
    • Point your toes and put the top of your rear foot on the ground.
    • While pointing your toes, slide your front foot further and draw the rear foot back to lower your hips on the ground.
    • Use your arms to have more stability and tension relief. 
    • Feel a deep stretch in the front leg, hamstring, and hip flexors, then release. 

     

    Modification:

    • Get in a lunge position, place your front leg lying on the ground and your rear knee bent.
    • Use a chair or put yoga blocks on each side of your body for added support. 
    • Straighten your front leg slowly and extend your back leg. 
    • Feel the stretch, then release.

     

    Watch this video to avoid common mistakes:

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    Side Splits

    Side Split

    Side splits or middle splits require flexibility from the inner thighs and hip flexors. 

    • Stand against the wall with your feet more than shoulder-width apart and your back straight. 
    • Spread your legs further to lower your hips down. 
    • Make sure your lower and mid-back are flat against the wall.
    • Place your hands in front of you on the ground for added support. 
    • Keep your arms straight and hold the stretch, then release. 

     

    Tips for Doing Splits Safely 🤓

    tips for doing split safely

    If you feel pain or strains in your hips, hamstrings, glutes, ankles, or lower back, consider seeing a health professional or a physical therapist before doing splits. 

    Since splits need flexibility and mobility in your lower body, they can worsen your pain.  

    During the splits, keep your spine neutral and core muscles tight.

    It helps stabilize your upper body and reduce the risk of injury in your lower back. 

    If you’re a runner, you may need to completely stay away from this pose or avoid it right after the run.

    Both of these activities strain leg muscles, and you may end up overstretching them

    If you feel you’re not ready to go deep, you should go as far as your flexibility allows you to.

    You could also use a yoga block or cushion to raise the ground level and help you perform the moves more easily. 

     

    Bottom Line 🤗

    Exercise regularly to do splits

    What muscles does a split use? The splits stretch and lengthen your hips, thighs, and groin muscles.

    Doing the splits requires flexibility in leg muscles, making it a challenging exercise.

    However, if you’re patient and do the above stretches regularly, you can make the full move.

    These stretches prepare you for doing a split and increase your ROM and flexibility in lower body muscles. 

    Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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