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How to develop turnout?

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Such physical quality as flexibility has its anatomic limits in development. Turnout (supination in thigh joints) is one of the methods to overcome anatomic limits in human movements, though they’re also limited. If flexibility develops maximum mobility in anatomically natural positions of joints, turnout is quite unnatural for human body. In normal conditions leg’s movements are quite limited thanks to the thigh joint’s anatomic structure.

Physical development just extends the metric characteristics of movements in space, not changing its topological qualities - turnout does that.

Legs’ turnout is the ability to open hips, ankles or feet to the en dehors position (out), when you can turn them inside out holding the right posture. Choreographic turnout is the most turnouting turnout. It involves not only thigh joints, but also knee and ankle ones. In other types of physical activity it’s enough to have the turnout of thigh joints.

Presence and training of turnout depends on anatomic characteristics of  musculoskeletal system. Being an anatomic factor, turnout doesn’t depend on muscular system functions and it’s not an inborn ability. That’s why turnout is not a physical quality. And it would be correct to say about turnout training instead of development, because it can’t be developed in ontogenesis compared with the basic physical qualities (strength, quickness, endurance, flexibility, dexterity).

Turnout is one of the most important qualities in many types of physical activity with complex coordination (choreography, rhythmic gymnastics, martial art), but it’s practically not trained in the frameworks of basic and special physical program.

Why turnout is necessary? It allows to raise hips with high amplitude in the frontal plane not distorting pelvis. It gives maximum freedom of motion with maximum balance. Turnout adds one more freedom degree to the lower limbs.

Choreography and classical ballet work with turnout in the most conscious and understandable way, as it’s the main characteristic of these dances. Turnout is present in all 5 choreographic positions. All the pas and steps are their derivatives, the whole classical dance is turned out. Moreover, turnout as a method of the extending movement spectrum is used anyhow in any kind of dance, even in modern dance, which denies it.

Turnout is the basis of choreography, in rhythmic gymnastics it’s trained at choreography lessons. Rhythmic gymnastics is “turned out” partially in virtue of fundamental choreographic basis (gymnastic and acrobatic elements are not turned out), however artistic gymnastics is not turned out. So straight splits of rhythmic gymnasts differ from the straight splits made by artistic gymnasts. Artistic gymnastics straddle split involves the knees directed forward and toe tips should reach to the floor. Meanwhile rhythmic gymnastics and choreographic straddle splits involves the knees directed upwards. The turnout “mechanism” is quite simple: in the position of turned out legs, the trochanter is not outside thigh, but behind it, thus the bone obstacle is avoided for legs moving with high amplitude.

Turnout mainly depends on how deep the cotyloid cavity is. Children with good turnout have not so deep and elastic chords fixing thigh. Even if the cotyloid cavities are directed sidewards and they are deep, legs can have good turnout. The same can’t be said about the cotyloid cavities directed forward, which create anatomic obstacles for turnout training. Anatomic structure of feet and knees is also important (knee and ankle joints).

So, how to train turnout? Notice, that it should be trained only for children with the corresponding aptitude. It’s quite clear that it shouldn’t be trained for children with inborn hip dislocation. But, don’t worry if the child doesn’t have such aptitude. Famous star of Russian ballet didn’t have it also.

Some simple exercises on the floor for better turnout:

Exercise 1

Basic position: Sit on the floor, bend your knees and pull them to the chest, grab the toes with your hands. Bend down slowly straightening your knees and keeping the feet in turned out position (1st position). Back to the basic position.

Exercise 2


Basic position: sit on the floor, bend your knees and open them to the sides. Put the feet together and pull them to the pelvis as close as you can.

The same exercise in martial arts: the partner, who’s behind you, steps on the hips. You may lie down on the floor on your back, trying to put your loin on the floor.

Exercise 3 “Frog on the belly”

Lie on the belly, opening your thighs and bending your knees, so that your feet can touch each other by the soles. Pull the feet to the thigh as close as you can, bend you back backwards. The partner can help you to hold your feet and thighs adding the pressure to the rump.

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