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The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

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The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

The Pilates technique is well known for one of its unique approaches to exercise-

Building strength without bulk

The Pilates Side Leg Series is a sequence that focuses on building strength in the legs and more specifically in the inner and outer thighs and the buttocks. As an added bonus, your core strength will also improve.

Eating a healthy diet also plays an important role in having long, lean legs. To learn more about how to eat healthy so that you can get the most benefit from the Pilates Side Leg Series exercises, then sign up to receive my

Technique Tips for Getting the Most Out of the Pilates Side Leg Series

As with all Pilates exercises, the set up is of upmost importance.

Start by laying on your side on a mat.

Line your back up with the back edge of the mat and bring your legs forward to the front edge of the mat to about a 30 degree angle.

Proper Head and Neck Positions

There are 3 positions that you can place your head and neck in. Choose the one that feels most comfortable for you.

Position One- Bend your bottom elbow and cradle your neck into your hand.

Position Two- Extend your bottom arm out along the mat and rest your head on your arm.

Position Three- Bend your bottom elbow in and rest your head on your bent arm.

The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

If you need additional support for your neck, consider using a small pillow such as the Peak Pilates Head Support Pillow or a folded towel.

Always look straight ahead so that your neck is in line with your spine. Avoid looking at your feet, crunching your neck forward or jutting your chin up towards the ceiling.

Proper Upper Body Position

Place your top hand in front of your belly button, keeping your shoulders stacked. Avoid leaning forward pushing your top shoulder forward, or leaning back. Maintain the Pilates “scoop” in and up through your abdominals.

For more information, about the Pilates “scoop”, check out my article,

How to Get the Most Out of your Ab Workouts

This does not necessarily mean that you are creating a visible space in between your waistline and mat as every body type is different. But you can envision that there is a small space between your waistline and mat, pretending that that space is a mouse hole and you are creating that mouse in the house visual.

Try not to let the bottom of your waistline that is in contact with the mat rest lazily on the mat. Think about lifting through your waistline.

Proper Lower Body Position

Keep your hips stacked and avoid rolling your pelvis forwards or backwards.

Your legs are stacked evenly with your heels lining up together.

Flex your bottom foot, keeping your bottom foot parallel. Try not to let your bottom leg rest lazily on the mat. Stretch long through your bottom leg, keeping your bottom leg active.

Turn your top leg out slightly.

Equipment Needed

The only equipment that you need for The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs is a mat.

There are several options that I recommend, depending upon your floor surface, your budget and your comfort.

Option #1

YogaAccessories 1/4″ Thick Yoga Mat

This is a great option if you have a carpet or thick rug in your home.

Plus, you can use it at home, in the gym or at a studio. It’s always nice to have your own mat, rather than use the “community” mats that are offered for all to use. (Not everyone wipes their mats down after using them.)

I personally have this mat. I purchased it over 7 years ago, and it is still in great shape. I’ve used it for Pilates, Yoga, Hot Yoga and other fitness workouts. So it’s a very durable mat.

The length is a little over 6 feet long, and if you are taller, or just simply prefer to have a longer and wider mat, YogaAccessories also makes an

Extra Wide 1/4″ Deluxe Yoga Mat

Option #2

Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat

If your flooring at home is a harder surface such as a wood floor or laminate, you may prefer to have a thicker mat.

Especially when performing the Pilates Side Leg Series, a thicker mat can feel more comfortable on your hips.

I have used many Gaiam products in the past and have found that they provide good quality products at a value price that can fit within any budget.

This particular mat is 6 feet long and 2/5 inch thick.

It also comes with a carrier strap for easy travel.

Option #3

SPRI Pro Exercise Mat

This third option is a little pricier, but you truly get what you pay for.

I have used this type of mat in a gym setting, where these mats were used multiple times a day on a daily basis by a number of people.

They have a super strong durability, are non slip and are over a half inch thick.

So they are also extra comfortable!

They have two sizes in length- a 55″ and a 71″.

I highly recommend the 71″, which will give you plenty of room to stretch your body out without your head or your feet and legs hanging off of the mat.

The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Leg

***DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that although I am a certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor, not all exercises may be suitable for you. I strongly recommend checking with your medical professional for any exercise restrictions that you may have if you have any physical injuries or chronic pain. This post and website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you are interested in having a program that is tailored specifically to your fitness goals, then check out my Online Coaching services.***

Follow the set up instructions as outlined above before beginning the Pilates Side Leg Series. These exercises are performed one right after another in a smooth, flowing sequence.

Front and Back Kicks
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Swing your leg forward as if you are kicking your nose, and then swing your leg back, keeping your shoulders and your hips stacked.

Perform 8 repetitions.

As an added challenge, swing your leg forward with a double pulse. Then swing your leg back with a double kick back.

Up and Down Kicks
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Float your top leg up as if it weighs nothing.

Lower your leg, pressing it down as if you were pressing down 100lbs.

Stretch your leg long out of your hips, bringing your top heel to your bottom heel.

Perform 5 repetitions.

Passe
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Draw your toe up your leg, lift your knee towards the ceiling and extend. Lower your leg, thinking about pressing down through your inner thigh.

Perform 3 repetitions, and then reverse the direction.

Float your leg up as if it weighs nothing.

Bend your knee and draw your toe down your leg.

Perform 3 repetitions.

Little Circles
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Take your top leg and make 5 little circles in each direction, keeping the circles small and tight.

Click your heels together each time you come around.

Transition to Inner Thigh Lift and Inner Thigh Circles

Bend your top knee and place it into one of two positions.

Position One: Bend your top knee allowing it to rest lightly on the mat in front of your body.

Position Two: Bend your top knee and stand on your front foot, lifting your top knee up to the ceiling as much as you can. Thread your top arm through your leg, and hold the outside of your ankle.

Your bottom foot is not in a soft, “Pilates Point” so that you are reaching through the arch of your foot, letting your toes be soft.

The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs
Inner Thigh Lift
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Lift your bottom leg up, thinking about reaching your leg out long and then up.

Resist as you lower your leg back to the mat.

Keep your knee as straight as you can so that you are really lifting your leg up from your inner thigh.

Perform 8 repetitions.

Inner Thigh Circles
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Circle your bottom leg up and around, reaching your leg from the front edge of your mat to the back edge of your mat.

Keep your knee as straight as you can so that you are circling from your inner thigh rather than from your knee or your ankle.

Perform 5 circles in each direction.

Transition: Bring your legs back together, flex your bottom foot again and turn your top leg out slightly.

Hot Potato
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Take your top foot and tap your whole foot (not just your toes) on the floor in front on your bottom leg.

Perform 5 small taps to the front and kick your leg up. Then, perform 5 small taps to the back and kick your leg up.

Then, perform 4 of each, then 3, then 2 and finally 4 singles.

Bring your legs back together and go into

Scissors
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Float both legs off the mat. Bring your bottom leg forward and your top leg back. Then switch. Continue to switch back and forth for 8 repetitions, keeping your torso in place so that just your legs are moving. Avoid putting a lot of weight into your front hand.

Bring your legs back together and go into

Bicycle
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Kick your top leg to the front as if you are kicking your nose.

Bend your knee.

Let your knees pass, keeping your heel to your seat as long as you can.

Then extend your leg back.

Swing your leg forward again and repeat for a total of 3 repetitions.

Then, bring your legs together and reverse the direction.

Swing your leg back.

Bend your knee bringing your heel to your seat.

Lift your knee up to the front and extend your leg long.

Swing back again and repeat for a total of 3 repetitions.

Bring your legs together at the end and roll onto your tummy to transition to the other side.

Transition in between sides

Lay on your belly.

Place your hands on top of each other and rest your forehead on your hands.

Bring your heels together with your toes turned out slightly.

Single Leg Raise
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Keeping your leg straight, extend your right leg up, keeping both hip bones pressing into the mat. Lower your leg back to the mat.

Repeat on the other side.

Perform 8 repetitions total or 4 repetitions on each side.

Double Leg Raise
The Top 10 Most Amazing Pilates Exercises for Long, Lean Legs

Lift both legs up and off the mat and then lower. Keep your heels together, stretching your legs long.

Perform 8 repetitions.

On the last repetition, hold your legs up and beat your heels together briskly, opening and closing your legs to the width of the mat.

Perform 10 heel beats.

Then lower your legs to the mat and roll over to the other side.

Repeat the entire sequence on the other side.

Final Thoughts

The Pilates Side Leg Series is a wonderful way to strengthen and tone your legs for that long, lean look. At the same time, you are also strengthening your core, as it is important to engage your abdominals, buttocks, and inner and outer thighs to keep your body stabilized throughout the sequence.

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