What is the Best Splits Machine? Top Picks to Master the Splits in Record Time
Our society has recently been afflicted with an unhealthy phenomenon known as the “sitting disease,” thanks to the evolution of convenience and technology. The problem is that the sedentary lifestyles that modern life has accustomed us to is keeping us from being our healthiest selves.
We often focus on cardio and strength training when we try to improve our health, but flexibility and mobility alike are extremely important - whether you like to stretch or not! There are a lot of misconceptions about stretching and flexibility, and the ‘unknown’ around it often makes people neglect it all together.
What's So Great About Doing the Splits Anyway?
There is also a lot of debate in the fitness community around how/when/why to stretch, but the benefits of having great range of motion as well as optimal flexibility can’t be refuted. Luckily, there is a lot more awareness around this topic now than there ever has been, along with a lot more options to work on your personal flexibility practice.
One of those really cool, helpful tools is the splits machine. It is what it sounds like - a machine that helps you stretch tight hip flexors and groin muscles to work on getting into a full split!
I’ve been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade, and let me tell you: the split is the holy grail of a yoga practice. Everyone wants to do a split, but for most, it is incredibly difficult. And this isn’t exclusive to yogis - a strong flexibility practice is crucial for martial artists, dancers, and functional athletes, too!
So, what’s so great about doing splits anyway? Doing splits - or working toward the ability to do a split - shows that you have mastered a full range of motion in your hips and groin.
While it’s fairly obvious that martial artists need this ability in their practice (imagine trying to do a roundhouse kick with tight groin muscles!), it may be less intuitive as to why others need that full range of motion. But the truth is, anyone who participates in fitness endeavors will perform better when they work on their flexibility and are not restricted by tight muscles.
One example is a runner - especially a sprinter. If you are afflicted by tight hip flexors, then you will experience pain and possibly even injury while trying to run - not to mention slower performance times! Even if you are just lifting weights, your ability to lift heavier loads will decrease if you suffer from flexibility and mobility issues (think: trying to squat a heavy max weight by having tight hips!).
While there is some debate about whether flexibility is best achieved with or without a machine, the unique advantage that the machine offers is the stability and comfortability it extends during your stretch session. It should be noted, however, that using a splits machine to assist in the development of your flexibility should not replace dynamic and active stretching, but instead, be used in conjunction with those drills.
Using a split machine allows users to engage in isometric stretching; that describes the action of holding a position for a long amount of time. To get the best results from isometric stretching, one needs to be fully relaxed - which is much easier to do on a machine.
What's the Best Splits Machine? Our Top Picks (And Why)
So now that you’re ready to improve your flexibility and finally master your split, it’s good to see what options you have and what the best splits machines are. Here’s a curated list of what we think is great…and what we think is just good!
A popular splits machine for good reason, the Pro Leg offers a sturdy, well-designed piece of equipment that allows its users to stretch beyond 180 degrees. It has a steering wheel mechanism in the center of it that allows minor and gradual adjustments to ensure users don’t go too far, too fast.
Its nicely padded backrest makes for a comfortable experience, despite being in a slightly uncomfortable stretch! Tall users needn’t worry, as it can easily accommodate users over 6’. The suggested weight limit is 235 pounds. One of the favorite parts of this machine? It comes pre-assembled, so you can get it out of the box and start using it right away. Overall, this is a top choice for a splits machine that'll firmly yet gently guide you toward the flexibility of your dreams.
Despite having key features like the ability to stretch up to 190 degrees and adjust the machine in five degree increments, the Versaflex deserves a more critical review. For starters, the leg holders are only designed for shorter people. It also doesn’t come pre-assembled, so the time for assembly plus the number of pieces to put to together can be frustrating and annoying.
Third, the machine takes up a lot more floor space than other options, because of its height and design. Despite these design faux pas, you can definitely receive a powerful stretch by using this machine. There is also ample back and leg padding to ensure comfortability during the stretch session. If you’re on the shorter side and have plenty of space for this machine, then it’s a good option - but not great.
Honestly, for this price range, we'd be tempted to go with the Pro Leg stretcher above.
The Valor splits machine offers a budget price point and a smooth, comfortable stretch. So what’s the compromise for the price cut? It’s cheaply made, and users know it - but aren’t too bothered by it. It’s less sturdy than other competing models, so you may experience some wobbliness while using it.
However, one great stand-out point about the design is that you have the option to put the leg pad down by your shin instead of right on your knee. This alleviates knee pressure and associated pain, so people with knee issues - take note. It also offers a higher weight capacity than others, allowing users up to 250 pounds to use it.
All in all, this machine is a great budget option for those who don’t mind a no-frills experience.
This is the most uniquely designed piece of equipment out of the group of reviews here; the EZStretch requires you to sit on the floor and put either end of it on our feet while working on opening up the hip flexors into a split.
For this reason, it’s way less expensive than the others reviewed. It definitely offers a great stretching experience, but you’ll need to have a strong core and good back to handle sitting on the floor and using it (although, to be fair, you could sit against a wall.) No padding means less comfort!
But, if you’re already a strong athlete, then you likely won’t be worried about that. It does offer up to seven levels of stretches, so it can go further than its competitors whose standard is typically five levels. And, there’s no height/weight requirement, thanks to the intuitive design! One of the most critical things that can be said about this machine is that you need to cover the screws with duct tape so you don’t scratch a hardwood floor - so that’s to say, this is a great splits machine that will tremendously help improve flexibility as long as you can take the discomfort of stretching on the floor without padding or the support of a firm machine.
Good luck as you go forth on your mission to do a split! Let us know how using a splits machine has helped you!