According to fitness coach Pavel Tsatsouline in his book, "Relax Into Stretch," the ability to do splits requires more than just strength or flexibility. These exercises also require you to train your neurological system to relax your muscles. This doesn't mean you can force the process in a week, though. Unless you are very flexible and already close to doing a split, it's extremely unlikely that you'll be able to do a split in a week, and forcing one can be dangerous.
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Can Everyone Do Splits?
According to Tsatsouline, most healthy adults can learn to do splits, even if they think they're not flexible or are out of shape. Some health conditions, such as arthritis, can make splits impossible or dangerous, though. The time it takes you to do a split can also vary with your age and health status. If you have a chronic medical condition or a history of injuries, check in with your doctor before you try to do splits.
How Long to Expect
There's no average amount of time it takes to do a split. Instead, your results will depend on your starting physical condition, how frequently you practice, your natural level of flexibility and similar factors. A week is an unreasonable time period in which you can expect to do a split. Instead, plan on anywhere from several weeks to several months. The last portion of your training can end up being the most challenging and time-consuming.
Risks of Rushing
It's possible, of course, to force yourself down into a split, as anyone who's ever had an unfortunate fall knows. But forcing your body into a split carries serious risks. You can end up with muscle injuries such as sprains and strains in your hips and thighs, and these injuries can increase the time it takes to do a split. Injuries in your legs and hips can affect other areas of your body as well, leading to back, stomach and lower leg injuries.
Stretches for Splits
The butterfly stretch is a must if you want to do a split. Sit on the floor with your spine straight and knees bent, then touch your feet together and pull them in toward your groin. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat five to 10 times per day. Gradually easing down into a split will also help. Try getting the help of a spotter who can help you avoid falling, and ease down as far as you can go without feeling pain. Practice this five to 10 times a day, and you'll see that your body gradually becomes accustomed to the motion by becoming more flexible.