What Does It Mean to Keep Your Hips Square While Doing a Split?

When the shoulders and hips face forward, they are square.
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Many different types of athletes and artists -- including cheerleaders, dancers, gymnasts, yogis and martial artists -- perform splits. Splits can be performed in many different fashions: to the front, to the side, externally rotated and with no rotation. You can perform front splits with your hips square or your hips open. Changing the position of your hips stretches slightly different muscles.

Splits With Open Hips

Here, the hips turn and open to the right.

If you typically get into a split by sliding your front foot forward, you likely open your hips. Your front hip advances with your leg, so that your hips are no longer facing forward. For example, if you slide your right foot front, your right hip advances so that your hips turn slightly to the left.

Splits With Square Hips

To perform a split with your hips square, focus on your back leg. Start by kneeling on the floor. Take a step forward with your right foot and place your hands on the floor. Straighten your left leg and slide it back. Imagine that while your foot is going back, your left hip is moving forward. This will keep both of your hips facing forward, or square. To think about the squareness of your hips differently, you can imagine that both hips are facing the wall in front of you. Once you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip, stretch out your right leg in front of you.

Difference in Stretch

Both types of front splits stretch the hamstrings of the front leg. When you perform the split with your hips square, you also stretch the hip flexors of your back leg.


Performing splits with your hips square can be frustrating initially because you won’t descend as far as you would with your hips open. Practice your splits with your hips square several times a week. As you perform the split, breathe evenly and focus on relaxing the front of your back hip. With time, you will be able to get lower in your splits.

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