Splits training is one of the ultimate tests of flexibility. It is important for dancers and athletes alike, as it stretches the major muscle groups of the hips and legs. Performed properly and carefully over a period of weeks or months, splits training will improve flexibility and help prevent leg and groin-muscle injuries. As you're stretching, it's best to hold each stretch for thirty seconds to two minutes, depending on your level of comfort and skill, and try not to bounce as you stretch. Instead, hold a steady stretch with moderate (comfortable) tension.
Front Splits Training
Start on your knees, then take a large step forward with your right leg. Bend your right knee, pressing your left knee into the mat. Lean forward, stretching your left thigh. Hold and repeat, this time with your left leg forward. The farther you step out, the deeper your stretch will be.
Sit on the mat with your legs straight out in front of you, toes toward the ceiling. Keeping your back straight and your stomach tight, lean forward and reach toward your feet with your hands. Imagine your forehead is trying to touch your knees.
Lie back on your mat with your left leg bent, your foot flat against the mat and your toes facing forward, and with your right leg straight, toes pointed away from you. Ease your right leg into the air, with both hands holding your ankle or shin. Stretch your right leg as far into the air as is comfortable, hold, and repeat with your left leg in the air and your right leg bent.
Lie back on your mat with your left leg bent and right leg straight, as in Step 3. This time, place one hand on your left knee and the other on your left ankle and pull your bent leg toward your chest. Hold, then repeat with your right leg. You may also perform this move while lying on a bench or exercise box with your straight leg hanging, which will intensify the stretch.
Side Splits Training
Perform the "frog" position. Start by standing on your knees on your mat with feet straight behind you. Spread your legs apart, as far as is comfortable. Ease your torso forward until you are lying on your stomach, with your hips stretched wide and your knees bent in line with your body. This position is called the frog because your body should resemble a frog in mid-jump when seen from above. It is also called the "baby splits."
Sit up on your mat with your legs spread as wide as is comfortable, toes toward the ceiling. Keeping your back straight and your stomach tight, walk your hands out in front of you as far as you can. Hold the position, then walk your hands slowly back until you are sitting up straight.
Stand on your mat and place your feet in a wide stance, with your toes forward and feet flat on the floor. Bend your right leg at the knee and ease yourself toward the floor. Place your hands on the ground for additional support. Keep your left foot flat on the floor and your left leg straight. Hold, then ease yourself up and repeat while bending your left leg at the knee and keeping your right leg straight. The wider your beginning stance, the more intense the stretch will be.