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Pilates For Intermediates: How To Tone And Lengthen Your Legs

Pilates For Intermediates: How To Tone And Lengthen Your Legs

If you've already been practising Pilates for a while, understand the principles of the method and feel confident and strong enough to take the next step, then our intermediate series of Pilates videos are for you.

Step 1: You will need

  • 1 exercise mat
  • some comfortable clothing

Step 2: Exercise One: Shoulder Bridge

Step 3: To prepare

Lie down on your mat with your knees bent, feet hip distance apart and back in neutral. Have your arms down by your sides and neck long.

Step 4: Breathing

You will inhale deeply through the nose to prepare, aiming the breath towards the back of the rib cage and exhale deeply through the mouth.

When you exhale, think of flattening the abdominal region. Imagine gently pulling your belly button towards your spine.

This exercise will be performed over 10 breaths.

Step 5: The exercise

Inhale to prepare, exhale, push your feet down into the floor, squeeze the backs of your legs and raise your back up in one piece to a straight diagonal line. Inhale, lift and point one foot directly to the ceiling, rotating it out slightly, exhale and keeping the leg straight, flex the foot and lower it towards the floor until in line with the other leg.

Inhale, raise the leg again pointing the foot, exhale, repeat and bring it down, flexing the foot. Inhale raise it once again to point, then as you exhale bend the knee and place the foot back down on the mat.

Inhale stay, lengthening the knees away from you, and finally as you exhale, return to the starting position.

Repeat the same thing with the other leg - and in total do 6 repetitions - 3 on each leg, trying to pick up the pace.

The key to this exercise is to stay aligned throughout - don't let your supporting leg give at the hip, keep those backside and leg muscles working!

When you finish, hug your knees into your chest.

Step 6: Exercise Two: Side Leg Circles

Step 7: To prepare

Roll onto one side, lining yourself up with the edge of your mat.

Prop yourself up on your bottom elbow, directly under your shoulder and rest the other arm along the top leg.

Make sure your rib cage and backside aren't sticking out.

Step 8: Breathing

You will inhale to prepare and then exhale in short breaths over the count of ten and repeat this again.

Step 9: The exercise

Inhale as you point, lift and lengthen your top foot away from the other, then exhaling over the count of ten make small circles with your foot in one direction. Inhale to pause, and as you start to exhale reverse the circle to the other way.

To finish, inhale lengthening the foot away from you, exhale and bring the leg back down.

Repeat the same sequence three times paying attention to keeping your abdominals strong at all times to stop any wobbling and to protect your lower back.

Step 10: Exercise Three: Side Leg Lift and Join

Step 11: To prepare

Stretch your underneath arm out and rest your head down on it. If your leg is aching, just bend it forwards slightly to relax the hip.

Step 12: Breathing

This exercise will be performed over 4 breaths.

Step 13: The exercise

Inhale, lift and lengthen your top leg to parallel, then as you exhale, using you inner thigh muscles, raise the bottom leg up to join it.

Inhale, stay, lengthening your feet further away from you, exhale and bring both legs back down to the mat.

Repeat this five times concentrating on maintaining your abs firm and shoulders down.

When you finish, change sides and repeat exercises two and three with the other leg.

Step 14: Exercise Four: Leg Pull Front

Step 15: To prepare

Set yourself up in full push up position - your body needs to be in one straight line, shoulder blades stabilized, spine and pelvis in neutral and legs and feet together.

Step 16: Breathing

The same principles apply as before. This exercise will be performed over 4 breaths.