Front Splits Main Image

How I 'almost' learnt the splits in 30 days.

🕗 4 minute read

For one reason or another, I’ve always been skeptical of the effects of stretching training, often naively attributing people's flexibility to natural talent or thinking that they must have started as a child or adolescent. Despite working as a personal trainer for a number of years, I’d never really looked deeply into how to make significant flexibility gains in the same way I had learned about developing muscle, strength, and power. As a squash player, I’ve always been extremely impressed by the pro players that can enter huge deep lunges, even hitting full splits, and then hitting the ball, and powering themselves back up again. This led to me asking the question, “Can I learn the splits?” After scouring YouTube and seeing some impressive results, I decided to attempt to learn the front splits and set an aggressive target of 30 days...


Quick Takeaways

If you’re looking for some quick takeaways, here’s what I learned:

  • Approach flexibility training much like you would weight training, with purpose, time devotion, and high levels of effort.
  • Keep it simple and specific (to get better at the splits, you have to do the splits… a lot…). 
  • Apply multiple sets of stretching per session (10+ minutes of stretching per session), and stretch almost every day. I stretched for 10-18 minutes per day, 5-6 days per week, using only the splits position stretch.  
  • Stretching can make you sore! Some days you’re also not as flexible as others, and therefore some sessions may have to be less intense while you recover. I took 1-2 rest days per week.
  • Contract-relax stretching (otherwise known as PNF) helped me break up the monotony of each stretch, helped me gain some strength in the new range of motion, and I believe it helped me get deeper at times.
  • Research conclusively shows that you need to stretch to at least the point of discomfort to increase the range of motion.
  • Total daily stretching time is more important than how long each stretch is. Meaning it doesn’t matter if you stretch for 30 seconds many times, or 90 seconds fewer times, as long as you get the total volume in. (More practical research findings at the end of the blog.)


My training plan:

After reading up on some successful cases of people learning the front splits, I decided I was only going to do one stretch, which was the front splits, or really more of a lunge to begin with. I used yoga blocks to take some of the load. I kept my rear leg as straight as possible and, over time, began to extend my front leg out further. From the get-go on day 1, my hip flexors absolutely killed, but my hamstrings not so much. I expect this is different from person to person.

Here’s how the typical stretching looked using the yoga blocks (as the weeks went on, I just removed blocks to go deeper).

Week 1

I began with 1 minute per side, then switched to the other side, and I would repeat this 5-8 times for a total of 10-16 minutes of stretching. During the first week, I kept the intensity lower as I was worried about pulling a muscle, and then, as time went by, my body felt more comfortable with slightly more intense stretches; however, I never stretched to the point of pain (people have pulled muscles stretching so be carefull!).

For the first two weeks, I hardly took a day off, but I found I was chronically sore each day, so I began adding rest days here and there, as well as some lighter sessions with less intensity and time when I felt like I needed it. In the latter weeks, I also began adding some longer 18-20 minute sessions on the days that I felt good to try to drive some more progress.

My main cues were to keep the back leg mostly straight and to tuck my pelvis under to increase the stretch on my hip flexors. I also tried not to lean forward. I primarily used this position for the first week until I was flexible enough to start adding in the second position (below).

Weeks 2-4

After week 1, most of my time stretching was spent in this position with my rear leg on the ground. However, I would use the standing position during the contraction phase of the PNF stretches (image below), before then returning to this position for the stretch phases.

After week 1, I also began adding in some contract-relax stretching, otherwise known as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). Although the name sounds fancy, it’s essentially just contracting a muscle hard and then stretching it. In the front splits, this involves standing up while in the splits so that the rear knee leaves the floor, using your muscles to hold yourself in a very deep lunge position. You then contract your hip flexors by pressing your rear foot into the floor while simultaneously contracting the hamstrings by pulling the floor towards you with your front leg. Typically, I’d do 6-8 seconds of forceful contraction and then return to the full stretch. I usually did this 2-3 times in a row per set, but I wasn’t too structured with it. Some days, I did a lot, and other days, I did very little and focused more on static stretching.

PNF (contract-relax) stretching


This is the contraction phase of the PNF stretch: press the rear foot into the floor while contracting the glute and hip flexor region. Additionally, pull the ground towards you with the front leg to contract the hamstrings (sometimes, I’d also bend the front leg slightly as it’s easier to contract the hamstring that way). After 6-8 seconds of contracting in this position, return to the position with the rear leg on the floor.

I found this video to be very helpful with learning the basic PNF front splits technique.

In essence, the training was extremely simple; it was just a matter of doing it consistently day after day, which some days was really tough.

Basic front splits stretch anatomy

I also found it helpful to know exactly what muscles I was stretching, so here’s a little diagram I made of the major muscles stretched in the front splits.

My 30 day results


As you can see, I was certainly not flexible. This position was very uncomfortable to attain, and my rear hip flexor was very tight, preventing me from going any deeper.

This part was tough; I remember thinking, 'I'm just so far away from the splits, why am I doing this?' It felt like my rear hip flexor didn’t seem to improve much. However, I was able to get my rear foot to go flat on the ground instead of keeping my rear toes on the floor, and my hamstrings responded quickly, allowing me to straighten my front leg.

Days 7-12 saw a lot of progress in my hip, and my motivation to continue was strong during this time.

At this point, I was thinking, ‘Wow, I might actually be able to do this in 30 days.’ My splits were starting to actually look like splits, and I was noticeably improving with each session.

By this point, I was down to doing most of my stretching on 2-3 yoga blocks, and could even do some brief holds using just 1 yoga block.

I was happy with this depth, but I began to notice that my progress was dramatically slowing down from session to session. As my progress slowed, I was unsure if I would be able achieve full depth within the 30-day target…

So here it is—my 30-day splits progression. Although I didn't quite reach the ground, I'm still happy with what I achieved. There were many days when I didn't feel like stretching, but I persisted, stayed disciplined for 30 days, and formed a habit—and that's what I'm most proud of. Now, it's becoming more enjoyable, and I plan to continue stretching and improving my flexibility. The progress at this point is much slower, so I have no idea how long it will take to get the full splits. Maybe I'll post an update here when I do with how long it took!

On day 30, I was also able to remove my hands from the ground, which is pretty cool! Up until this point, it had been too much pressure on my hip flexor. This definitely made it feel more splits like.

Interestingly, doing the front splits affected my side splits in no way whatsoever 😂…


Maybe this will be the next challenge!

What I learnt

I learned that consistency and dedication to stretching can lead to significant progress. I also learned that achieving a true split, all the way to depth, is a great achievement and, for me, wasn't achievable in just 30 days. There are no tricks; just consistency and effort. I now understand why sporadic stretching here and there, once or twice a week, does very little to improve flexibility and range of motion. It may help maintain what's already there, but there's simply not enough volume or frequency to drive real progress. I learned that you have to be purposeful and treat it like an actual workout.



What the research shows

During my splits training, I also wrote a university project examining the most up-to-date flexibility research, which I found interesting and helpful. Here's a summary of what I learned from the recent research:

  • Stretches should be employed at the point of discomfort to maximize range of motion and to decrease muscle-tendon stiffness (1, 2, 3). However, pain-level stretching is not advised, nor does it show any further benefit (12).
  • When adaptation ensues and the range of motion angle becomes ‘comfortable’, a greater stretch angle should be used to drive further progression. I.e, keep challenging yourself (2). 
  • Both Static stretching and PNF should be used, as some research shows that PNF can further increase range of motion and increase muscle activation and strength in the new range of motion (4, 5, 6). 6-8 seconds of contraction is standard for PNF, the stretch phases can be anywhere from 6s-30s+.
  • All static stretches should be a minimum of 15s in duration; 30-60s represents a standard duration in most research (7, 8, 9). (I did a minimum of 60s, and sometimes up to 120s per stretch)
  • A minimum of 5 minutes stretching per muscle group per session, divided into multiple stretching repetitions (10). For the splits, there are two sides, therefore, this would be a minimum of 10 minutes per session.
  • A minimum of 3 weekly sessions should be employed to increase range of motion (11, 12, 13), however, 5 or more sessions may be better (10). (I did 5-6 days per week.


Thanks for reading,
And good luck with your splits!


About the Author:

Joe is a certified personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and nutrition coach. While studying sport and exercise science, Joe's main focus has been on human physiology and performance. Joe has helped numerous clients achieve their health and fitness goals by applying research into practice to support their physical and overall well-being.



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2) Kataura, S., Suzuki, S., Matsuo, S., Hatano, G., Iwata, M., Yokoi, K.,…Asai, Y. (2017). Acute Effects of the Different Intensity of Static Stretching on Flexibility and Isometric Muscle Force. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 31(12).

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4) Zaidi, S., Ahamad, A., Fatima, A., Ahmad, I., Malhotra, D., Al Muslem, W. H.,…Nuhmani, S. (2023). Immediate and Long-Term Effectiveness of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation and Static Stretching on Joint Range of Motion, Flexibility, and Electromyographic Activity of Knee Muscles in Older Adults. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 12(7).

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6) Rizvi, F.R., Rasheed, N., Simon, N.H. and Chatterjee, A., 2020. The Effect of Static Stretching and PNF Hold-Relax Stretching on Increasing Flexibility of Shortened Hamstring Muscle among Sedentary Living Female Students-Randomized Controlled Trial. International Journal of Science and Research, 9(11), pp.157-61.

7) Ayala, F., & Sainz de Baranda Andújar, P. (2010). Effect of 3 Different Active Stretch Durations on Hip Flexion Range of Motion. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(2).

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10) Thomas, E., Bianco, A., Paoli, A., & Palma, A. (2018). The Relation Between Stretching Typology and Stretching Duration: The Effects on Range of Motion. Int J Sports Med, 39(4), 243-254.

11) Nakamura, M., Yoshida, R., Sato, S., Yahata, K., Murakami, Y., Kasahara, K., Konrad, A. (2022). Cross-education effect of 4-week high- or low-intensity static stretching intervention programs on passive properties of plantar flexors. Journal of Biomechanics, 133, 110958.

12) Melo, R. R. V., Cerqueira, M., Barbosa, G. M., Laurentino, A. L. B. A., França, I., Souza, T. O., & Vieira, W. H. (2021). Static Stretching at Pain-Tolerated Intensity Is Not Necessary to Increase Knee Range of Motion in Amateur Soccer Players: a Randomized Trial. Muscle Ligaments and Tendons Journal, 11, 536.

13) Fukaya, T., Matsuo, S., Iwata, M., Yamanaka, E., Tsuchida, W., Asai, Y., & Suzuki, S. (2021). Acute and chronic effects of static stretching at 100% versus 120% intensity on flexibility. European Journal of Applied Physiology.

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