Pilates: How To Tone Your Legs
Using the magic of Pilates, get the long, lean legs you've always wanted. Follow this great Pilates workout and get your own toned legs.
Step 1: You will need
- 1 small rubber workout band - optional
- some comfortable clothing
- 1 exercise mat or thick towel
- a clear wall space
Step 2: Exercise 1: The Bridge
Step 3: To prepare
Lie down on your mat or towel with your knees bent at a 45º angle and your feet a little less than hip-distance apart. Have your arms on the floor by your sides.
Pay special attention to your lower back. Don't have it flat on the floor, or over-arched. Try and find a neutral position, with a small curve in the lower back, and the pelvis stable.
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 in 4 breaths.
Step 5: The exercise
Inhale to prepare, then as you exhale, push your heels into the floor, pick your back off in one piece and squeezing your bottom and backs of legs, raise your thighs to one level.
Inhale to stay, imagining you are squeezing an orange between your knees and as you exhale, slowly lower yourself back down to the floor to the starting position.
Repeat this four times. You will feel your backside - gluteus muscles - hamstrings and inner thigh muscles working.
Step 6: Exercise 2: Side Upper Leg Lifts
Step 7: To prepare
Change your position to lie on your side, lining yourself up with the edge of your towel or mat. Have your legs and feet together in parallel, feet relaxed.
Rest your head on your underneath arm and use the other arm as a light support in front of you.
Check your posture to make sure your backside or rib cage isn't sticking out.
Step 8: Breathing
Follow the same breathing as before, concentrating most on contracting your abdominals as you exhale to prevent yourself from wobbling.
Step 9: The exercise
Inhale to prepare, then, as you exhale, lift the top leg up, keeping it parallel, until you reach hip distance apart.
Inhale and stay, lengthening your foot away from your centre, exhale and return to the start.
Repeat this same action 5 times, concentrating on your posture throughout.
You will feel the outside of your leg and hip - the abductor muscles - working.
To make this exercise more challenging, place the small rubber workout band around your ankles which will add more resistance.
Step 10: Exercise 3: Side Bottom Leg Lifts
Step 11: To prepare
Lower your top leg, placing your foot flat down in front of your knee and turn this foot to face the other one.
Step 12: Breathing
The breathing pattern is exactly the same as in the previous exercise. Concentrate most on contracting your abdominals as you exhale to prevent yourself from wobbling.
Step 13: The exercise
Inhale and stay, then as you exhale, lift and extend the underneath leg off the floor until you feel your inner thigh muscles working.
Inhale and stay reaching your toes further away from your body, then exhale and gently lower the leg back down to the floor.
Repeat this five times concentrating on your posture throughout.
You will feel your inner thigh muscles - the adductors - working.
When you have completed this exercise, gently turn onto your other side and repeat exercises 2 and 3 with the other leg.
Step 14: Exercise 4: Rise and Lower
Step 15: To prepare
Stand up and go to the wall. Position yourself about 1 foot away. Have your legs and feet together and lightly rest your hands on the wall for support, keeping your shoulders down.
Throughout the exercise pay attention to your alignment making sure you're not sticking your bottom or stomach out.