Can’t Front Split? – Here’s Why

Ever dreamt of doing the following?:

Well, if you have the same voice in your head as 99% of people out there, you probably think it’s not possible for you.

Now I’m not here to tell you that you should aim to do a front split because it’s a cool party trick…though that is a nice perk 😉

No, I’m here to tell you that you should aim towards a front split because this kind of stretching will do wonders for your hips and your lower back when you execute it correctly!

Now you have probably tried this stretch at some stage only to fail miserably and wind up with your hips well and truly off the floor.

But why is this so? Which muscles are preventing you from putting your pelvis on the floor?

Well, there could be possibly 1 or even 2 answers.

“How do you mean exactly?” you say.  Well, you could have tight hip flexors or tight hamstrings…. Or both!

How do you know which? Well, there are two simple tests you can do right away to find out:

Hip Flexor Length Test

Lie on a table with your lower leg hanging off the table on one leg while pulling your flexing and pulling the other knee to your chest. Make sure you keep you back flat on the table the whole time – see below:

If your leg dangles down to the floor at a 90 degree bend and does not lift off the table (whilst back is kept flat), then you pass! Your hip flexors are not tight and as an added bonus, you shouldn’t experience any back pain as a result of tight hip flexors.

However, if the leg lying on the table lifts off when the other flexed knee is pulled into your chest (like in the image below), this means you have tight hip flexors.

This means you need to loosen up and stretch your hip flexors until you’re able to do this test with the leg not coming off the table. There should be at least a 120 degree angle between your legs when you do this test too.

The Lunge Test:

Lets say that you pass the above test. It’s safe to say that you will then be able to perform the front lunge stretch below with a straight line formed between your thighs.

Try it now – get into a deep a lunge as possible as shown below:

Now if there is not a straight line between your two knees as per above, it means you still need to stretch your hip flexors some more. Once you can achieve the 180 degree hip angle as show above, we know that your hip flexors are loose enough for the front split as this is the same thigh angle required for a full front split.

So now just slide on out into a front split – do it now

But wait! What just happened? Why are your hips still off the floor and you can’t get all the way down like me example below:

All you have done here is extended the knee… so what is preventing full extension of that leg? The answer is your knee flexor muscles – the hamstrings!

You see, these were shortened (front leg) when you did your deep lunge. Now when you have gone to straighten that leg, these hamstrings are revealing how tight they really are.

Tight hamstrings will cause havoc with your posture and many of your general exercises and stretches.

If you don’t address these tight hamstrings, you will shoot yourself in the foot in a lot more ways than one.

Hence you will need to loosen up and stretch the hamstrings so they will not only allow you to get down into a full front split, but so you can also sit anywhere without a rounded lower back.

The good news is, you don’t need to do any funky stretches to improve your front split position and your hamstrings – you simply have to get into the same tight position as above and gradually slide that front leg out further and further.

Most people will try this stretch and try to gradually wait out the tension. To get to your front split position faster, I recommend strengthening your hamstrings as they gain range using contract-relax or even CRAC (Contract-Relax-Antagonist-Contract) methods. These methods will allow you to get down to the bottom position quicker but also enable you to slide in and out of the stretch using more of your own leg strength (rather than trying to fully support yourself with your arms).

So there you have it – you now know the secret to the front split. With that said, you will still need to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to stretching. Oh and please avoid sitting and curling your legs under your chair as much as possible.

Want to know more about these methods and some other tricks to getting into a front split faster? Then reach out to us via the form below using the codeword ‘FRONT SPLIT’ – we will happily reach out with more info and answer your questions.

Don’t keep getting frustrated – getting into a front split is only hard when you don’t know how. Reach out today and we will help you discover and breakthrough your flexibility barriers.

What kind of fitness animal are you?