Side split: a few tricks

How to do the splits

In the previous article (read The easiest method to do the side split), we have described the most simple and effective way to make a good side split.

Let’s define now the final details of the exercise (it is useless to say that to read this we must have already know how to perform this conditioning).

Execution details


Before all, let’s pay attention to these safety tips:

  • Let’s make a few breaks – Especially the first few times let’s break the tension by closing the legs 3-8 times per session
  • Let’s be gradual while closing the split – To interrupt the split not too abruptly, let’s grab a knee at a time and let’s slowly bring the leg into the crossed legs rest position (always remaining attached to the wall)
  • Let’s make a few checks – The tension interruption can be a check, let’s ask if it’s time to insist, to stop or to postpone (exaggerating slows down our work, it does not speed it up)
  • Let’s understand when it is the moment to stop – If we feel pain, tingling, or other discomforts, let’s immediately interrupt the exercise (we must feel tension, not pain); in general (but especially for those over 12 years) to arrive always to the point of pain is wrong and dangerous
  • Let’s understand what is normal from what not – If we experience real pain even after interrupting the tension we have to suspend the conditioning and (made the right evaluations) to eventually seek medical advice (read How to correctly perform stretching)
  • Let’s understand what is our limit – We need to learn to listen to our body and know when we are over our possibilities; let’s never underestimate the signals that the body sends us, in terms of speed in achieving results, it is always better to be wrong (once) in being a little more cautious than having to face a potentially long recovery (read also Measure ourselves with errors)

A note by Master Kongling – Some of these tips may appear exaggerated but this part of the article is especially for the beginners of tendons transformation (read Conditioning check for flexibility): not only for those who are not able to make a full split but also for those who has real problems of stiffness (eg. those who can’t touch their feet from standing).

How to improve rapidly

Some useful tips, tricks and concepts:

  • How long does it take to get a full split? – It is not strange to need a year (or more) to reach the 180°, we did not have to rush
  • Is the improvement in openness constant? – No, not panic if certain days we will open less our legs, it is absolutely normal
  • How to identify the parts that generate stifflness? – To help the elongation we can check with our hands what are the most tensed parts and massage them lightly along their entire length
  • Which foods help flexibility? – In terms of nutrition, it is better to opt for white meat rather than red meat but in general a balanced diet is more than enough; in our meals, we have to abound with vegetables and raw fruits (fresh and seasonal, read Qi and proper nutrition)
  • Do we have to drink a lot of water? – Let’s try to keep our body always well hydrated (as we always say, we have to drink a lot, read Why and how to drink water)
  • Is this practice sufficient for a rapid full side split? – As we improve we have to combine to the exercise also the classic / normal split (both with feet parallel, both perpendicular to the ground)

Side split: advanced level

How to exceed the 180° split:

  • We can say we have reached the 180° when the legs (buttocks, etc.) completely touch the ground and when, during a normal side split on the ground, we can release our entire weight without problems (if we are not at this level, let’s do not continue reading)
  • Once reached the full split, to overcome the 180°, let’s start to put pillows under our buttocks (gradually increasing the thickness)
  • When we feel sure we can perform the exercises with a full open-close movement (extremely slow and controlled); the movement starts from the ground (the split) to the vertical touching-parallel legs (this will make our muscle strong enough to allow high-level flexibility performances even in the worst combat situations)
  • Finally (this is optional and dangerous, do not do it without being under the supervision of an instructor), we can also position some not-heavy weights on our ankles (proportionally to our muscles’ resistance)

A note by Master Kongling – About the last point: let’s do not be stupid, we risk to damage our legs permanently. Done rationally this practice leads to high-level results (close to contortionism) which, however, in terms of martial skills, overcome the combat-related needs.  Let’s be clear: if done with conscience, under the guide of an expert and if we already are at an advanced level of combat flexibility (not athletic, etc.), this variant is not dangerous, in all the other cases it is.

Final notes

A few conclusive thoughts:

  • A big part of what we have said for the side split is valid also for the other ones (frontal split, etc.)
  • Doing the splits after a 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s training session (read also 5 regeneration practices to recover after training) helps much the tendons transformation but only when the ionvolved body lements ar warm and, absolutely, without forcing the execution in any way
  • Immediately after training, the body is (normally, not automatically) warm and then more elastic, so the splits are more easy to perform;
  • When the body is warm, the risk of damage decreases significantly and it is possible to positively work with a real elongation (better than in a preventive stretching phase)
  • Once acquired, the split do not remain active automatically, it must be kept trained (at least every 3 days, after some time, even only performing it once)

In the next articles of this series, we will talk about: the infamous power stretching, the relations with standing stamina (read Standing stamina: what is and its development), other splits and other types of body flexibility.

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • How far do you go with your side split?

Author: Master Kongling

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