People tend to associate Pilates workouts with a stronger core. While that’s 100-percent the core of the fitness modality, certain Pilates exercises can also strengthen your lower body, too (Pilates is full of surprising benefits, y’all).
To stand as proof, SolidCore trainer Triana Brown, our Trainer of the Month, is walking us through a Pilates lower body workout that fires up your quads, glutes, inner and outer thighs, and hamstrings, right along with your core muscles. To up the ante and add resistance to the already challenging leg and butt workout, Brown recommends that you grab some sliders (a towel works, too) as a quick way to get your muscles quaking. Sliders take your workout to the next level by introducing instability. You’re forced to control your muscles as you work so you don’t flop to the ground.
Hot tip: It’s going to feel intense, but take a deep breath and keep going. “Push through that burning sensation,” says Brown. “It’s a mental game, and you’ve got to talk yourself through it.” Fifteen minutes later, you’ll be stronger for it. Keep scrolling for the full workout.
Try this Pilates lower body workout for yourself
Do each exercise for two minutes each.
1. Plank to pike
First things first, you have to warm up before getting to the lower body, and planks help fire up your core, glutes, back muscles, and quads while lengthening your hamstrings.
How to do it: Grab your sliders and place them directly underneath your feet in a plank position, hands right underneath your shoulders. Contract your abdominals and lift your hips up towards the ceiling, then slowly lower down so that your hips are in line with your shoulders. Squeeze your abs the entire time and make sure there’s no tension in the lower back. For more of a challenge, pause in the plank position and come down to your elbows for a plank up-down. Or you can add a push-up. Modify by coming down to your knees on the sliders, and lift your hips two to three inches up and down.
2. Sumo squat
While these squats work all of your lower body muscles, you’ll feel your inner thighs doing a lot of the work.
How to do it: Start with your feet hip-width distance apart, heels in, toes pointed out. From here, shoot your butt straight down to the ground so that your knees are in line with your toes, keeping your weight on the outer rims of your feet. If your knees are shooting out way over your toes, you’ll need to go a bit wider. Come down low into the squat as your abs stay raised and your shoulders in line with your hips. Slowly drive into your heels, squeezing your outer glutes and inner thighs, then slowly resist back down. Try going down for four counts, then four counts back up. To add more of a challenge, you can hold onto weights, or at the top, you can pause and lift your heels up for a triple extension before lowering down. Stay tall.
3. One-legged squat—right
Like regular squats, this move targets your glutes. But, because your weight is in your right leg your right butt cheek will be doing most of the work.
How to do it: Grab onto your slider and plant your right foot firmly, and then lift the toes. Your opposite foot goes down. Shoot your butt down and back behind you, sit down into a squat, and keep your chest lifted and light weight on your supportive toe. Drive through your heel and squeeze your glutes as you extend your leg out just 90 percent of the way. You should hinge in the waist and try to keep your knees behind your toes. If you want more, you can hold it halfway down, or if you need a modification, hold onto a table for light support.
4. Crossover lunge—right
Since this move takes the lunge and crosses it behind you, your outer glute on your right leg will really feel the burn.
How to do it: From here, keeping your hips square, snake your back leg down and back toward your right hip. As you do this, shoot your butt down and back behind you to get your glute to a 90-degree angle, and drive through your heels, squeeze your glute, and come to a microbend at the top. You should feel a lot of tension in your right outer glute. For more, you can turn that toe out a little more, or hold halfway down and pulse.
5. One-legged squat—left
Switching sides, your left butt cheek is taking over with this move.
How to do it: Put your supportive leg onto the slider, active leg (your right) planted firmly. Shoot your butt down and back behind you, putting your glute in line with your knee. Then squeeze through your glute and drive through the heel to the microbend at the top. Hold onto something if you need a little support. Go slowly and keep your abs really tight.
6. Crossover lunge—left
Dig deep into your left outer glute with this move.
How to do it: Keep your active foot planted and your supportive leg stays on the slider. Shoot your butt down and back behind you, getting as low as you can to get a 90-degree angle. Drive through your heel, coming to the microbend at the top. Keep your hips hinged and come all the way down, nice and low. Focus on your posterior muscles: the outer glute, center glute, and hamstring, and keep your weight shifted back.
7. Sumo squat
Taking it back to where we started, this sumo squat be even more challenging on your legs and inner thighs this time around.
How to do it: Find your feet hip-width distance apart, heels in, toes pointed out. Drive your knees away from your hips, keeping them nice and in a line. You should have no added tension in your joints. Your chest stays lifted tall, and be sure to squeeze your outer glutes when you come to a microbend at the top. Move nice and slowly.
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