Russian Split Anatomy

Russian Split, also known as Horizontal or Saddle Split, is one of the most famous pylon tricks in the world and perhaps one of the most beautiful splits. Russian Split anatomy is named so because it first began to appear first in the competition by Russian Pole Dancers.

It is an extremely complex move to execute and requires a lot of practice and correct progression. The complexity comes from the fact that you need not only a good stretch but also strong arms to keep your body in a horizontal position. You also need to make sure that the supporting leg does not slip. In Russian Split anatomy, your legs spread widely horizontally so that your hips can sink deeply into the floor. 

So, in order to perfect it, you need to focus on daily stretches that improve the flexibility of restricting muscles discussed later in the article. It is important to work on the Russian Split in the correct progression. 

So, let’s start with the muscles behind the Russian Split anatomy.

Muscles Lengthening in the leg proximal to the pole

Russian Split Anatomy Hamstrings:

Hamstrings are the extensors of the leg at the hip joint but the leg proximal to the pole in Russian Split is hyper flexed and that is why the Hamstrings are being lengthened here.

Adductor Magnus (ischial fibers):

The Ischial fibers of Adductor Magnus act just like Hamstrings as extensors of the leg at the hip joint that will also be stretched while executing the Russian Split anatomy.

Gluteus Maximus:

Another extensor of the hip will also be lengthening in the proximal leg.


This muscle abducts the leg during hip flexion and that is why it is also being stretched in the proximal leg.

Gluteus Medius (posterior fibers):

The posterior fibers of Gluteus Medius also act as extensors of the thigh and so, are stretching during the Russian Split in the proximal leg.

Muscles Lengthening in the leg distal to the pole – Russian Split Anatomy

Psoas Major:

Psoas Major is a major flexor of the thigh at the hip joint and as we can see, the distal leg is extended, so Psoas Major is lengthening in the distal leg.


Rectus Femoris assists the Iliopsoas in flexion of the leg. It also gets stretched due to being a flexor.


Sartorius is both a hip and knee flexor and as we know both hip and knee are extended in the distal leg so it will be lengthened strongly.

Pectineus: A Best Russian Split Anatomy

Pectineus when contracts, flexes and adducts the leg at the hip joint. This is why it is stretching in the distal leg.

Tensor Fascia Latae:

Tensor Fascia Latae will be lengthening in the distal leg due it’s one of the functions of being a flexor of the hip joint.

Adductor Magnus:

It is a prime adductor of the leg and in the distal leg, it will be restricting the movement important for the Russian Split anatomy thus, it will be lengthening.

Adductor Longus:

The Adductor Longus will also get lengthened.

Adductor Brevis:

Like the other Adductors, this small adductor muscle is also being stretched in the distal leg.


Gracilis is a long, strap-like muscle that provides strong adduction and thus, is stretching in the distal leg.


As the feet are in a plantarflexed position, the Dorsiflexors are being lengthened. 

Muscles stabilizing the position

Flexors of the fingers:

The flexors of the fingers play a very crucial role in stabilizing the position as they help in making a stronger grip so that the practitioner doesn’t slip down.


Soleus assists in plantarflexion of the foot and here it will help the foot of the proximal leg to come into a position that will help in stabilizing the position.


The gastrocnemius is the other plantar flexor of the foot that will position the foot of the proximal leg on the pole so that the position can be stabilized.

Rectus Abdominis:

Prime flexors of the trunk will help to defy the gravitational pull and keep the core in a horizontal position.


The Obliques are the flexors of the trunk if acting bilaterally and they will help in opposing the downward movement of the body and resist the gravity.


Triceps are the extensors of the forearm that will make sure that the forearm stays extended on one side. It also helps in stabilizing the position.

Pectoralis Major (sternal):

The sternal head of Pectoralis Major acts as an adductor that will work with some other muscles in adducting the arms so that the pole can be held and hence, stabilizing the position of Russian Split.

Latissimus Dorsi:

Latissimus Dorsi is a big muscle that will produce adduction and internal rotation of the arms. This assists in stabilizing the position.

Teres Major:

Teres Major acts as an internal rotator and adductor of the arms and it will be contracting on both sides to produce the internal rotation and thus, stabilizing the position.


Rhomboids retract, rotate, and elevate the scapula which are very important movements in stabilizing the position of the Russian Split.

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