Am I ready to oversplit? - Front splits

It can be beneficial to start training oversplits before you achieve a flat split.
By
Ashleigh Flanagan
February 4, 2023

'Oversplit' is a term used to describe a split that achieves an angle greater than 180 degrees, ankle-pelvis-ankle. The term can also describe training for this line by using props such as blocks or a hammock to allow a person to move into a range greater than flat, even if the 180 deg line is not achieved. While an oversplit requires greater than average flexibility, it can be beneficial for adults to start to 'train' oversplits before a flat split is achieved.

To learn more about the benefits of training oversplits read the blog here.


When am I ready to train oversplits?

There are no hard rules, but for most people:

-You have been training your splits consistently for at least a few months. This allows your joints to condition and muscles to strengthen in ways specific to splits.

-You feel confident training splits and can 'sit with' (tolerate) the associated uncomfortable emotions and sensations.

-You have access to a set-up that allows you to get into your split with control and exit smoothly and safely.


How to train oversplits- front splits


There are many ways to train oversplits. The best way for you depends on your experience, level of conditioning, strength, control, the area you wish to target, the structure that limits your split and how you intend to utilise your split.

Here are a few examples of front split over splits exercises and when you might utilise them:


Over block front leg

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Over block front leg
If knees hyperextend, a single block under the front heel may not increase the split stretch, so consider blocking the calf instead.


Considerations for use:

-Mimics a common entry method so it can be used to build confidence.

-Can be used when front splits seem a distant goal.

-Expectation response may result in an immediate increase in range. Learn more here.

-Avoid stacking more than two blocks to reduce the risk of fall-related injuries. If a greater deficit is required, use a taller prop like a bench or chair.

-For those with knees that hyperextend, consider blocking under the calf of the front leg so the block isn't just taking the slack.


Couch split stretch

Couch split stretch. Because of the increased stretch on the back leg, a flat couch split can be considered an oversplit
Blocks can be added to the front or back leg to bias the stretch


Considerations for use:

- Increases the stretch on the quadricep of the back leg.

-Can help square splits by providing feedback when the back leg turns out.

-Can be used to bias stretching the back hip.

-A progression towards a split foot to head.


Hammock suspended front split

Hammock suspended front split



Considerations for use:

-Access to a hammock.

-Low risk set-up.

-Can be used when front splits seem a distant goal.

-Expectation response may result in an immediate increase in range.Β 

-Accommodates variations in split alignment/ hip anatomy.

-Encourages focus on leg tension.


Hammock Active suspended front splits

Hammock active suspended front splits



Considerations for use:

-Access to a hammock.

-Progression from suspended front split.

-Requires good strength, balance and stability.

-Great for improving strength through range.


Hammock reverse suspended front split

Hammock reverse suspended front splits


Considerations for use:

-Access to a hammock.

-Accommodates variations in split alignment/ hip anatomy.

-Encourages focus on leg tension and establishing back-leg hip extension.

-Challenging for those with a lot of neural tension (especially sciatic nerve).

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Hammock active reverse suspended front split

Hammock active reverse suspended front split


Considerations for use:

-Access to a hammock.

-Progression from reverse suspended front split.

-Requires good strength, balance and stability. This variation tends to be more challenging than active suspended front splits.

-Great for improving strength through range.

-Caution is required for those with knee hyperextension.


Suspended front splits

Suspended front splits

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Considerations for use:

-Requires good strength, balance, stability and back leg tension.

-Great for improving strength through range.

-Caution is required for those with knee hyperextension.

- Nature of muscle activation means that it may take longer to recover from this exercise.


Active front split- heel reach

Active front split- heel reach



Considerations for use:

-Able to weight bear through the ball of the back foot.

-Requires a close-to-flat front split.

-Trains active back leg hip and knee extension

-Early progression for aerial splits.

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Wall forward fold active split

Wall forward fold active split



Considerations for use:

-Challenging for those with a lot of neural tension (especially sciatic nerve) or limited forward fold.

-Progression towards antigravity/aerial splits.

- Requires a close-to-flat front split.

-Trains active back leg hip and knee extension.


General Guidance


If you are new to oversplits training, pick more stable positions. Your body will resist you moving into depths that you can't control. Don't rush to unsupported variations.
If your goal is antigravity/aerial splits, you should prioritise exercises that require you to pull into your split instead of exercises where you resist the floor.
Bias the part of the split you find most challenging. For example, if your back hip extension limits your splits, pick variations that require you to actively open the back hip, load the back hip more than the front or encourage you to establish back hip extension and leg tension.

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Want to book a flexibility assessment with a qualified physiotherapist / exercise physiologist? Click here.

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