I thought I had my front splits until now...

Juicy J
Hi everyone,

I hope everyone's thriving and doing well in this weird season.

I started training intensely to get my front splits on both legs since late March as where I live, Sydney Australia, went into lockdown. This meant all gyms and pole studios were closed until further notice and what better time to work on my flexibility.
I trained for my front splits by using a Splits Training app and live Zoom classes that my pole studio offered.
Then in early June, I touched down on both legs, 78 days since I started training! I was chuffed with how quick it took!
Months later, I've been gently and gradually increasing the comfort in my front splits until recently, during a class at the studio, an instructor of mine looked at my front splits when we did a splits stretch class and told me that my hips weren't square. Confused by what he meant, I asked him to please explain as my back knee and foot were facing down on the floor and my shoulders and torso faced forward. My legs were both straight and flat against the floor in a front splits position.
My instructor told me to look at the position that my back hip was in and I looked down and he said that my hips were very open, so therefore it was not a square split. He told me that my hips had to almost be in a straight line whilst in the splits and mine were on a diagonal.
I asked him to please tell me how to correct it and to my surprise, he couldn't demonstrate for me nor put me into the right position. He attempted to put me in the right position but it felt like I was simply rolling over to the other side of my straight leg in the splits in which he still told me my hips weren't square.
Annoyed and confused by this, I asked another instructor for her opinion. After some discussion via FB Messenger, she told me to do her Splits Challenge class and she will give me some feedback.
The overall gist I received was to pull that front leg back a bit into the hip socket but I still couldn't quite remember how it felt when my instructor put me into a better position once I was in my open split.

I continued my splits training at home and despite trying a front leg oversplit for the first time on Friday (not a bad attempt, kinda got there and it felt intense), I could see that my splits were not squared and I needed to correct this ASAP. Watching my own video recordings back in a front leg split on both legs, I realised how open my hips truly were even though it did not feel open at the time. My instructor was not wrong.

To help me get the right technique, I turned to YouTube and realised I was not following these steps in squaring my hips when training for my splits:

This video made the most sense and showed how to square hips in a very practical and easy to follow way:

Demonstration of a square split by an Olympian gymnast, Elena Shinohara:

A short and succinct way on good technique in squaring the hips and how tough it actually can be:

I've done much of my own research on squaring the hips both on Studio Veena and elsewhere and after attempting to stretch this a few hours ago, I can't help but feel really discouraged. I was basically a tent and there was no way I could actually slide all the way down and have square hips.

One of my instructors told me that it wasn't bad to have an open split as in pole moves and dance, we will always use the open split due to its beautiful line and how much flexier it makes us look BUT we still want a square split in order to train in a balanced way for our muscles.
Basically, it was for me NOT to give up stretching my open split but to also work on getting flat in my square splits.

I'm writing this because I feel like I am back to square 1 with my splits journey. I feel as though I've worked so hard to get flat and to stay flat but to be told my hips weren't square has made it feel like all my hard work has gone to waste and I need to start all over again.
Can anyone else relate to this? I need some encouragement and I know not to give up but it's really getting me down.

Thanks for reading. =)
Sep 14, 2020
Whoever said you HAVE to do squared splits is just being picky. Don't stress one bit! If fact in heels squared splits look weird a pretty looking split is an open split. Also I have no problem with working on squared splits, but I only do it as a method of targeting different muscles.

If you're not doing a split contest don't worry about it. I would still train with squared hips too, but no worries if you never do a full split squared.
Sep 14, 2020
Juicy J
Thanks for your encouragement, Veena!
Yes, that particular instructor who pointed out my open splits is very particular and perhaps a little anal on what he thinks is right or wrong.

Ultimately, the message I got from my instructors was it's good to stretch both open and squared front splits but with the male instructor in particular, he really stressed on training square hips when stretching for splits, which may have led me to feel like I'm back to square 1 and all my hard work had gone to waste. Perhaps it was also the way the message was delivered and not being able to help me fix the problem on the spot and give me a solution.

Yeah, I agree that a squared split in heels looks odd as the front foot looks flexed when upright.
An open split is definitely the prettier version and also looks way flexier.

Haha, I'm definitely not planning to do any split contest!

I think I'll give it a go training my squared splits by doing my open splits first and then once I'm quite limber after doing them, perhaps I will get lower in my squared version?
I did the squared version first and it was seriously depressing how high I was that it seemed the stress and discouragement got to me and I just couldn't continue with my stretch sesh. Also it didn't help having a plumber visit your house and was drilling and doing loud works next door in our bathroom!
Sep 15, 2020
LatinPoler Previous Paid Member
Hi!! I hear you... loud and clear! And look what I posted last Friday on my Instagram for Flexyfriday (@latinpoler if you'd like to follow). I think people that discourage open splits have a very narrow mind to be honest, or maybe they are gymnasts and don't do pole or dance. I totally agree with what Veena is advising here.
Sep 15, 2020
Juicy J
Hi Latin Poler,

Thanks so much for your comment!

I just had a look at your IG and the post you mentioned. Thanks for the affirmation. I honestly felt like shit after that instructor pointed it out to me and the way he delivered the message. It made me feel like my open splits were not really a split and I needed to work on squaring my hips in order to have the splits! However, now I know NOT to be discouraged and to keep training for my Square Splits but not to stress if they don't happen or take a longer period to happen. A split is still a split and yes, I agree that the open split looks beautiful and way more flattering anyway.

That is a good point about the Open Split requiring flexibility in different muscles. I honestly didn't think of this as I assumed if you can do a Square Split then you MUST be able to do an Open Split! Perhaps not!

Thanks for your encouragement too. I honestly feel a lot better about myself and my abilities now. I won't give up!
I'll see if my hips and structure allow me to get down flat in my Square Splits from regular stretching.

Just out of curiosity - how did you come to the conclusion of the controversial open front splits? Was it something you've seen someone else post?
Sep 16, 2020
LatinPoler Previous Paid Member
Hi Juicy, the post is my conclusion and point of view from reading from different people and sites - besides of course what Veena said. For example, Easyflexibility explicitly says open and square splits require flexibility in different muscles, and they even have training plans specific for each. StretchIt also have blogs and videos mentioning the same thing. Open splits require more flexibility in adductors and square splits in hip flexors. For most people open splits are easier but not for everyone. The specific training comment is from my experience with running: for example, you can do lots of squats and that will make your legs stronger, however, that won’t necessarily make you a better runner; you need specific training like plyometrics that transfer better to running. The back flexibility one, I don’t remember the specific source but I bet you can find a lot of literature about it... we usually have better mobility in our lower back vs. the tight upper/mid back. To achieve a nice and safe back arch we need to gain flexibility everywhere in the back, no only the lower back. Glad you feel better!,
Sep 16, 2020
Juicy J
Hi Latin Poler,

Thanks for the insight! I had a quick look at Easy Flexibility and Stretch It's website and am not familiar with these resources until now. The blogs on Stretch It's website look really interesting! I will definitely be having a read!

I never knew there were specific training plans for both the Open Front Splits & Square Front Splits. This makes a lot of sense now. No instructor ever told me this.
Looking back on my own experiences with the stretch classes both in-studio and via Zoom, it hasn't been apparent to me that there are 2 x different types of Front Splits and so I did what my body naturally does which was to open up the hips rather than to stay square! As you said, most people will find the Open Front Splits easier but not always the case.
After an intense Open Front Splits stretch, I definitely feel it in my adductors as I start my Straddle and Middle Splits stretching afterwards! It's no wonder I don't feel it in my hip flexors! As you said, it's working different muscle groups!

I recall some weeks ago during a stretch class that a student repeated what an instructor said that after training your Front Splits, it's likely your Middle Splits and Straddles won't be as low as your adductors will be sore and that's normal. That sounds to me that it was a hint that it was the Open Front Splits we were working on!

Thank you for being willing to explain this further as I now understand what I was doing was not "wrong" but just another variation.
I'm no longer going to feel bad that I don't have my Square Front Splits yet but knowing full well that my Open Front Splits are still very valuable and by unlocking this first, it will only motivate me more to unlock the Squared version. Better to be Splitty in one way than no ways!

Finally, to acknowledge what you said earlier about people who deem the Square Front Splits as being the only technically correct splits as perhaps they have a gymnastic background, when I think about the video links that I shared in my original post, 2 out of 3 were all gymnastics-based. I guess it does depend on the discipline and their viewpoints on the Splits.

Another thought on some impressive moves I've seen in pole performances...

To do a mini handstand/bunny hop and drop into the Front Splits, this would be the Open Front Splits position as opposed to the Square Front Splits, wouldn't it?

To do a Front Splits Floor Walk where you sit in a very wide Straddle and then manoeuvre yourself either by using just your leg muscles and/or arms as well so that you end up in a Front Split of either leg and then switch back into the Straddle and then Split on the other leg, that is again an Open Front Splits position, right?

I'm just thinking for pole performances or any dance performances, it seems the Open Fronts Splits is likely to be more useful than the Squared version? Maybe easier to get into as well as nicer lines?
So perhaps the Squared version would only really be used in a Gymnastics performance in which the person doing them is getting judged and scored?

Generally speaking, if you had a flat Square Front Split, are you more likely to be able to do the Open Front Splits without really training/stretching for it intentionally? I assume this is the case but not necessarily if you have the Open Front Splits and likely not be able to do the Square version without intentionally training it?
I was given the impression by my instructor that the Squared Front Split was more transferable than the Open version.

Thanks so much!
Sep 16, 2020
LatinPoler Previous Paid Member
I would say, make sure you train both variants but do not overthink about it. Bodies are not machines and we cannot control everything. Here's an interesting article from EasyFlexibility:
Sep 16, 2020
Juicy J
Thanks for the article, Latin Poler! Very interesting read and highly educational!

No problems about overthinking it. I was beating myself up for it so much and it was really getting me down, even affecting my training negatively.

Fingers crossed tonight in my stretch class my instructor doesn't start having a go at me again for not being square in my splits!
Sep 17, 2020
Silver Sylph Previous Paid Member
Being a member is like belonging to a huge family all united by a love of pole, oh and the lessons & advice from Veena simply amazing!
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