The Elusive SplitAsk Sensei . Training notes
Everyone wants to be flexible. The second most common question that new students ask is how long it will take them to get into a perfect split.
Short Answer: It depends…
Long Answer: It depends on several variables. First of all, some people are naturally more flexible than others. That said, everyone, adult or child, male or female, provided they don’t have any physical defects in their hips or lower back, can eventually get into a split. The time it takes to achieve a full split depends on several factors such as the individual’s age, body type, flexibility, how often they practice, and their overall approach to stretching and training. The complete list of factors include:
- Starting Flexibility: It has to be said… If someone is already somewhat flexible, they might progress to a full split more quickly. If you are starting from a place of limited flexibility, it may take longer.
- Age: Sorry but the hard truth is younger individuals generally tend to be more flexible, though this is not universally true. Older individuals may need to take more care and time to stretch their muscles and tendons safely.
- Training Routine: How consistent are you? Regular practice with a proper routine that gradually increases the stretch can greatly reduce the time it takes to achieve a split. Someone practicing daily with proper warm-up and stretching exercises may achieve a full split in a few weeks to a few months. A less structured or less frequent routine might take several months or even longer. Stretching every once in a while or when you get inspired will not help you get a split unless you are naturally very flexible.
- Muscle Prep: Do you warm up properly? Cold Muscles don’t stretch, they tear, causing injury and less flexibility. Remember, this connects back to the last point. You don’t want to injure yourself. Properly warming up before any heavy stretching is absolutely essential.
- Your Commitment: How hard do you push yourself? – Stretching can be uncomfortable. Chances are it will be very uncomfortable in the beginning. How well you improve your flexibility depends on whether you can persevere and really push yourself to your own personal limits. That being said, while stretching is uncomfortable in the beginning, it should never be painful.
- Guidance: Working with a knowledgeable coach or following a well-designed flexibility program can also make the process more efficient. Guidance can ensure that the stretches are done correctly and effectively, potentially reducing the time to reach a full split.
- Injury or Other Health Considerations: Again an past or existing injury, particularly in the muscles and joints (hips or lower back) involved in a split, can slow down or impede progress. Additionally, every person’s body is different, so what works quickly for one person might not work as quickly for someone else.
- Type of Split: The time might also vary depending on whether you’re working on a front split (one leg in front, one in back) or a side split (legs to the side). Different muscles and techniques are involved, so the time to achieve them might differ.
- Expectation Management: It’s essential to understand that not everyone will be able to achieve a full split, and that’s okay. Everyone’s body is different, and pushing too hard to reach a specific goal can lead to injury.
As a general guideline, with consistent and proper training, many people can achieve a full split in anywhere from a six weeks to six months, but individual results will vary widely with your dedicated practice. If achieving a full split is a goal, it might be beneficial to work with a physical trainer or take classes specifically designed to increase flexibility, as this can provide the structure and expertise needed to progress safely and efficiently. Always consult with a fitness professional to understand what might be realistic for your specific situation.
Remember: While stretching is uncomfortable in the beginning, it should never be painful. A very important point to remember is that injuring yourself will only keep you further from your goal. Just like with anything in the martial arts, if you want to see results you have to train hard and train smart. Be aware of your limits and be honest with yourself. Push yourself as hard as you can safely go. If you start to feel any intense pain, stop, rest and go lighter next time.
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