I have never considered myself to be a flexible person.
I very clearly remember back in sixth grade when taking the Presidential Fitness Test absolutely failing the v-sit and reach portion—there was no way I was going to touch my toes. Back then, I blamed it on long limbs, but the truth was that I just had very poor flexibility.
So when I first got interested in bodyweight training and gymnastics, the flexibility required to do several of the movements I wanted to do was undoubtedly daunting. I had never worked on my flexibility very much, only doing a very half-ass stretching session post-workout a few times a week.
Yet I figured there was no way I’d ever be able to do a front split—I just wasn’t a flexible person.
Despite my doubts, I started half heartedly working on my front split a couple of times a week.
At first, I had maybe a foot between the floor and me, and thought my efforts were hopeless. Yet all of a sudden, even without practicing a ton, I started making some progress. Every couple of weeks, I’d notice that I was closer and closer to the floor. I wasn’t practicing a ton, but I was working on it consistently enough that I was starting to see results.
I had a specific routine I would do based on the advice of a contortion teacher (who is way more flexible than I am), and within a few months, I somehow did my first front split on my right side. My left side took a little longer—but I still got there. As a former totally inflexible person—and as someone who wrongly believed that flexibility couldn’t be developed later in life—I was pretty shocked, and definitely a little proud.
Here is the sequence I used to finally achieve a front split:
Front Split Sequence
Here is the stretching sequence I used to finally be able to do a front split. You’ll want to do the following stretches as a series, one after the other, holding each for 30-45 seconds until moving onto the next one.
For best results, repeat the series 2-3 times, at least a few times a week.
Step 1: Hip Opener
How to do it: Start in a lunge position with your left leg in front of you. Squeeze your butt and push through your hips to really open up those hip flexors. Hold for 30 seconds.
Step 2: Hamstring Stretch
How to do it: From the lunge position, lean back on your right leg, point your left toes, and lean forward into the stretch. Try and keep your back from rounding while leaning as far into the stretch as possible.
Step 3: Full Splits
How to do it: Get back into your lunge position then slowly slide your front leg in front of you as you slide your back leg straight behind you. Square your hips, then go down as far as you can while keeping your chest upright. If your back knee touches the ground, that’s fine as long as it doesn’t hurt.
You can also hold onto a yoga block on each side if you’re worried about going down too far.
Also, this exercise becomes much easier with socks!
Just like anything else, getting a front split takes time. Just be consistent with your stretching, and be patient! No matter what your current flexibility level, if you work at it on a regular basis you will get there with time.
Also, don’t be surprised if you make progress on one side much quicker than the other—this is completely normal, even for super flexible people.