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The Benefits of the Pilates Side Leg Series

The Side Lying Leg Series is a staple of the Mat Pilates program. The exercises target the smaller muscles in the hips that stabilize and support the pelvis and hips. The core muscles play a key role in this series as well, specifically the transverse abdominis and oblique muscles. Here are a few reasons that the Side Leg Series should be part of your Mat Pilates workout routine.

  • The exercises help to develop full articulation at the hip joint.

  • They develop stability at the tires and the pelvis.

  • The exercises also work the side body including the internal and external obliques and the quadratus lumborum.

  • Strength of the external hip rotators is targeted (including the gluteus medius, Maximus, and minimus, and the piriformis.

  • The hip abductors and adductors as well as the hip flexors and extensors are also targeted

Here are a few variations of the Side Leg Series that you can try:

Side Leg Kicks: Lay on your side with the torso and head lined up against the back edge of the mat.Support the head with your hand and place the elbow on the mat in front of the chest. Keep the shoulder and the hip stacked on top of one another and the spine straight. Inhale, with the foot flexed, kick the top leg forward and pulse it two times. Keep hips and shoulders stacked and the leg straight. Exhale, and kick the top leg to the back with a pointed foot. Keep the torso stable.

Side Leg Circles: The setup is the same as the Side Leg Kicks exercise. Inhale, and circle the top leg forward and up to the high point (pictured above). Do not lift the top hip or and keep length through the waist. Keep the body still. On the exhale, circle the top leg from the midpoint back and around to the starting position.

Side Leg Lifts: Keeping the same setup as the previous two exercises, lift the top leg up and lower it down slowly, keeping control throughout the movement while keeping the hips and shoulders stacked. Inhale to prepare for the lift and exhale as the leg lifts up. Inhale at the top and exhale as the leg lowers down again.

The benefits of the Side Lying Leg Series include increasing hip stability, improving balance, and strengthening the muscles in the core and lower body including the glutes, hamstrings, and inner/outer thighs. Try the exercises in this video from the Kore Library:


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