Pilates Leg Exercises for Strength and Flexibility

If you are looking for leg exercises that not only strengthen your legs, but also to add flexibility at the same time try some Pilates exercises designed specifically to tone the legs.

Pilates has always been well known for its core strengthening ability, but not so much for leg strengthening exercises.

The great thing about Pilates is that it increases your leg flexibility and strength simultaneously without the feeling of being sore and beat up after a workout.

And...

Better yet!

Pilates works the core at the same time!

Check out some of these great Pilates leg exercises and get started today.


Pilates Leg Circles

pilates leg circles image

Purpose:

This leg exercise helps to strengthen and stretch the muscles of the upper thigh and hip joint while simultaneously working the deep muscles of the pelvic floor.

Position:

Lying on your back with one leg extended along the mat (foot flexed), and the other leg lifted at a 90-degree angle with the foot flexed.

Movement:

Circle the leg in the hip socket 6-8 times each direction. Inhale as you begin and exhale to pull the leg back to start.

Tips:

Keep your hands at your side and body anchored and still as you let the leg swing freely. You should feel the work in the upper thigh as well as the deep abdominal muscles.


Pilates Single Leg Stretch

pilates single leg stretch image

Purpose:

To strengthen the core and thighs while increasing your back and leg flexibility.

Position:

Lying on your back with head and shoulders lifted off the mat pull one knee into your chest and extend the other leg just off the floor.

Movement:

Keeping the head and shoulders lifted using the abdominal muscles pull one knee to the chest grabbing with both hands, extend the other leg.

Inhale and exhale as you switch legs alternating for about 8 – 12 repetitions.



Pilates Side Kicks
as a great Leg Exercise

Purpose:

This series of Pilates leg exercises helps to strengthen and stretch the legs in a lateral or side lying position.

They not only help to elongate and tone the muscles of the thighs and calves but they strengthen and stabilize the muscles of the pelvis for better walking and less hip joint pain.


standing side kick leg exercise imag

Position:

These exercises can be positioned lying on your side with your hips and shoulders stacked on top of each other, or standing as shown to the right.

  • UP/ DOWN KICKS

Movement:

Reach the top leg toward the ceiling with the toes pointed, then flex the foot and pull it down long past the bottom foot like you are squeezing a beach ball between your legs.

If standing, kick the leg out to the side staying tall and upright, balancing on the other leg.

Repeat for 6-10 repetitions on each leg inhaling as you reach up and exhaling as you pull the leg down.



  • FRONT/BACK KICKS

When lying rest your head on the bottom arm and the legs are piked forward about 10 degrees for better balance. Movement:


pilates side kicks image

Swing your top leg at hip level forward and back keeping the waist long and tight.

Inhale as you flex your foot swinging it forward and then exhale as you point the foot and swing it to the back. Repeat for 8-10 repetitions.


  • SMALL CIRCLES

Movement:

Reach your top leg at hip level just forward of the bottom foot keeping your toes turned up and foot flexed.

Make small circles keeping the leg long and the torso quiet. Repeat for 8-10 circles forward and back.



side leg work on reformer imag

Some of my favorite Pilates leg exercises are done on the Reformer and Wunda chair where you have the added resistance of the spring tension.

If you have the opportunity to use Pilates equipment try Front and Side Lunges on the Wunda chair for better strength and balance in your legs.

Footwork on the reformer is great for leg, ankle, and foot strength and flexibility.

See more about Pilates equipment leg work on my youtube videos from these pages.


Leave leg exercises and find more ways to exercise your hips and legs with Pilates.




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