You are here

11 Pilates Moves for Leaner Legs

You probably already have a few favorite Pilates moves that you use for carving out your core (hello, Boat Pose!). But Pilates can also be an effective exercise for leaning out your legs, says Heather Anderson, founder of New York Pilates.

"These exercises use small isolated movements that efficiently shape your muscles," explains Anderson. "Classic exercises like bridging and side lying target the butt, hamstrings, and inner thighs, which make them ideal for developing leaner-looking leg muscles."

And the Pilates ring is not called a "magic circle" for nothing—the ring adds resistance that works your inner thighs when placed between your legs as well as outer thighs and saddle bag area when placed outside of your legs.

We tapped Heather to give us her favorite mat moves for an at-home practice. (And when you're done perfecing your lower bod, try this Strong and Sleek Upper Body Pilates Workout.)

Top, Onzie; Bottoms, Electric & Rose.

How it works: Perform each exercise in order. Work this sequence into your regular routine once a week, or do it twice a day six days a week for a major transformation.

Total Time: up to 45 minutes

You will need: Pilates ball, Pilates ring

1. Basic Bridge

A.

Start laying on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor, hip-width distance apart. Use abdominals to lift pelvis off the ground, forming a diagonal line from shoulders to knees. Hold until you feel the hamstrings and glutes start to warm up.

Sets:

1

Reps:

Hold for 1 minute

2. Bridge Squeezes with Ring

A.

Start laying on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor, hip-width distance apart. Place Pilates ring in between thighs, just above knees. Squeeze in on ring, so that knees and ankles are lined up. Lift pelvis up to bridge position.

B.

Squeeze in on the ring, then release the ring. That's one rep. Continue squeezing in and out to complete reps. Lower pelvis back down between sets.

Sets:

3

Reps:

10

3. Bridge Pulses with Ring

A.

Start laying on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor, hip-width distance apart. Place Pilates ring in between thighs, just above knees. Squeeze in on ring, so that knees and ankles are lined up. Lift pelvis up to bridge position then drop tailbone down, as if sitting in a chair.

B.

Lift right back up to the bridge, squeezing the ring the whole time. That's one rep. Keep the movement isolated by flexing and extending at your hips. Lower and lift for one set then lower pelvis back down to the floor.

Sets:

3

Reps:

10

4. Bridge with Outer Ring

A.

Start laying on back and thread both feet through the Pilates ring. Place the pads above the knees on the outside of thighs. Bend knees, bring feet flat on floor, wider than hip-width distance apart, until knees and ankles are in line. Lift pelvis up to bridge position and press out on the ring until you feel your "saddle bags" activate. Continue pressing and releasing for one set then lower pelvis back down.

Sets:

3

Reps:

10

5. Bridge Pulses with Outer Ring

A.

Start laying on back and thread both feet through the Pilates ring. Place the pads above the knees on the outside of thighs. Bend knees, bring feet flat on floor, wider than hip-width distance apart, until knees and ankles are in line. Lift pelvis up to bridge position and then drop tailbone down, as if sitting in a chair.

B.

Lift right back up to the bridge, pressing out on the ring the whole time. Keep the movement isolated by flexing and extending at your hips. Lower and lift for one set then lower pelvis back down to the floor.

Sets:

3

Reps:

10

6. Single Leg Bridge with Toe Taps

A.

Start laying on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor, hip-width distance apart. Lift pelvis up to bridge position then lift one leg into table top position.

B.

Keeping the top knee bent and maintaining the bridge position, lower and lift the leg to taop the toe down towards the floor, then lift it back to table top. Keep both hips level, hipbones pointing toward the sky.

Sets:

1

Reps:

20 times on each side

7. Single Leg Bridge with Leg Dips

A.

Start laying on back with knees bent and feet flat on floor, hip-width distance apart. Lift pelvis up to bridge position, then lift one leg out and straight up to the ceiling.

B.

Keeping the leg straight, lower it down to hip height, then lift it back up to the ceiling. Keep both hips level, hipbones pointing toward the sky.

Sets:

1

Reps:

20 times on each side

8. Side Lying Kicks

A.

Start laying on side, supporting head with bent arm, legs extended slightly forward and bent at a small diagonal. Lift and straighten top leg, bringing it in line with spine and lifted at hip height. Bring leg forward 45 degrees, flexing toes.

B.

Bring leg back in line with the spine, pointing toes.

Sets:

1

Reps:

20 times on each side

9. Side Lying Lifts

A.

Start laying on side, supporting head with bent arm, legs extended slightly forward and bent at a small diagonal. Lift and straighten top leg, bringing it in line with spine and lifted at hip height. Lift leg about two feet in the air.

B.

Lower leg back to hip height. That's one rep.

Sets:

1

Reps:

20 times on each side

10. Leg Circles

A.

Start laying on side, supporting head with bent arm, legs extended slightly forward and bent at a small diagonal. Lift and straighten top leg, bringing it in line with spine and lifted at hip height. Bring the leg forward 45 degrees. Lift it up towards the ceiling, then circle it back down to hip height and return to start. Circles should be dinner plate-sized in circumference. Be sure to keep both hips stacked on top of one another. Repeat in opposite direction.

Sets:

1

Reps:

10 in each direction. Switch sides.

11. Wall Squat Rolls

A.

Start standing up against a wall with a Pilates ball in the center of your back. Feet should be about a foot away from the wall.

B.

Slowly roll down on the ball to come into a squat position, making sure that knees do not go past ankles. Slowly roll back up. That's one rep.

Sets:

1

Reps:

20

Comments

Add a comment