Front Splits Vs. Middle Splits

Splits improve the flexibility in your hips and thighs.
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You don’t have to be a gymnast, dancer or cheerleader to benefit from practicing splits. Flexibility training offers several different health benefits, including improved posture, relaxation, reduced injury risk and decreased muscle soreness. Front and middle splits target muscles in your hips and legs. Because these splits target different muscle groups, you can perform both of them in a single stretching session.

Performing Front Splits

To perform the front splits, start from a kneeling position and place one foot flat on the floor in front of you. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your body. Simultaneously slide your front and back feet away from your body, and straighten both legs. Lower your hips toward the floor as far as possible, until you feel a stretch under your front thigh and in your back hip.

Muscles Stretched in Front Splits

The front split stretches the hamstrings -- the muscles on the back of your thigh -- of your front leg as well as the hip flexors -- the muscles on the front of the hip -- of your back leg. Because the front split doesn’t stretch the same part of both legs, practice front splits with both your right leg and left leg in the forward position.

Performing Middle Splits

To perform the middle split, start from a seated position with your legs in front of you. Open your legs out to the sides as far as possible. Place your hands on the ground behind your buttocks and push into the floor to lengthen your spine up toward the ceiling and to advance your buttocks to intensify the stretch. Alternatively, perform the middle split lying on your back. Sit on the floor facing a wall and get as close to the wall as possible. Straighten your legs up the wall and relax your back onto the floor. Scoot your buttocks forward until they touch the wall. Open your legs to the side, letting gravity increase the stretch.

Muscles Stretched in Middle Splits

The middle split, or straddle split, stretches the muscles on your inner thigh. In addition to stretching the adductors, the middle split also targets your hamstrings. Unlike the front split, the middle split stretches both legs in the same manner.


To prevent injury, warm up before you practice splits. Do at least 5 or 10 minutes of cardio activity, such as brisk walking, jogging or jumping jacks. Alternatively, stretch after you’ve already completed your cardio or weight-training workout. To get full benefit from your stretch, hold each split for at least 30 seconds. Don’t bounce while performing splits. This can cause injury to your muscles. Avoid sliding down into the middle splits from a standing position. This can damage your knees by exerting a sideways force on your joints.

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