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Two Pilates-Inspired Leg Workouts To Get Those Glutes Burning

Lia Bartha
mbg Contributor
Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen
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April 17, 2020

When you picture a challenging "leg day workout," you might imagine heavy weights and lots of squats. But you can strengthen the muscles in your legs and glutes with minimal equipment or even no equipment at all.

Below, you'll find two Pilates-inspired sequences from B The Method, a fitness method I founded—one routine requires only your bodyweight, while the other uses a Pilates ball. I recommend these sequences to clients (including mbg co-founder and co-CEO Colleen Wachob) to target the lower body in an effective and strategic way. Plus, they're perfect to try at home and take only a short amount of time. Try one or both for a fantastic leg workout.

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Pilates leg series: bodyweight.

Summary

Time: 10 minutes
Equipment: Bodyweight
Directions: Move from one exercise to the next, without rest. Once you've completed all four moves, switch sides and repeat the entire series.
1.

Side-Lying Arm & Leg Extension

Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen

How to: Start on your side, with your bottom forearm pressed into your mat, torso lifted off the ground, and bottom leg on the floor, knee bent slightly. Hover your top arm and leg in the air. Extend your top arm and stretch it overhead while extending your top leg out straight, like they're pulling away from each other. Then, bend your top knee and bring it toward your chest while bringing your arm over your top leg. That's one rep. Complete 5 reps. Switch sides on the second round.

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2.

Side-Lying Arm & Leg Twist

Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen

How to: Start on your side, with your bottom forearm pressed into your mat, torso lifted off the ground, and bottom leg on the floor, knee bent slightly. Hover your top arm and leg in the air. Twist your torso toward the ground as you extend your top arm out in front of your body and extend your top leg out straight, like they're pulling away from each other. Then, bend your top knee and bring it toward your chest while bringing your arm over your top leg. That's one rep. Complete 5 reps. Switch sides on the second round.

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3.

Side-Lying Twist With Chest Opener

Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen

How to: Start on your side, with your bottom forearm pressed into your mat, torso lifted off the ground, and bottom leg on the floor, knee bent slightly. Hover your top arm and leg in the air. Twist your torso toward the ground as you extend your top arm out in front of your body and extend your top leg out straight, like they're pulling diagonally away from each other. Keeping your top leg straight, bring it in front of your body, while opening your torso toward the ceiling and stretching your top arm in the opposite direction as your leg. That's one rep. Complete 5 reps. Switch sides on the second round.

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4.

Quadruped Leg Extension

Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen

How to: Start on your hands and knees. Place one forearm on the ground and extend your opposite arm out in front of your body, with palms facing down. While keeping your core engaged and back straight, lift your leg (on the same side as your extended arm) into the air until it's in line with your spine. Lower your leg with control until your toes nearly touch the ground. That's one rep. Complete 5 reps. Switch sides on the second round.

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Pilates leg series: with ball.

Summary

Time: 10 minutes
Equipment: Pilates ball
Directions: Move from one exercise to the next, without rest. Once you've completed all four moves, switch sides and repeat the entire series.
1.

Side-Lying Crunch With Extension

Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen

How to: Lie down on your side, with your bottom arm extended away from your body, a Pilates ball placed under the side of your torso. Place your bottom leg on the floor, knee bent slightly, with your top leg extended out straight. Engage your glutes to lift your top leg about a foot off the floor. At the same time, engage your obliques to bring your arm overhead, then toward your top leg until your hand meets your thigh. That's one rep. Complete 5 reps. Switch sides on the second round.

2.

Side-Lying Rainbow Kicks

Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen

How to: Lie on your side, with a Pilates ball placed under the side of your torso. Your arms should be bent, with both hands placed behind your head. Place your bottom leg on the floor, knee bent slightly, with your top leg extended out straight. Tap your foot on the floor a few inches in front of your body. Lift your foot into the air, creating an arch shape, and tap your foot behind your body. That's one rep. Complete 5 reps. Switch sides on the second round.

3.

Side-Lying Leg Extension

Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen

How to: Start on your side, with your bottom forearm pressed into your mat and a Pilates ball placed under your torso. Twist your torso slightly toward the floor, and place your opposite hand on the ground, with your elbow bent slightly. Place your bottom leg on the floor, knee bent slightly. From here, extend your top leg out in front of your body, then bend your knee, and extend it back behind your body (almost like you're riding a bicycle). That's one rep. Complete 5 reps. Switch sides on the second round.

4.

Side-Lying Leg Lift

Image by Hannah Schwob / mindbodygreen

How to: Lie on your side, with your bottom arm extended away from your body and top hand resting gently on the ground, both palms down. Extend both legs out straight, and place a Pilates ball under the side of your bottom leg. Flex your foot, and lift your top leg into the air, then lower back down with control. That's one rep. Complete 5 reps. Switch sides on the second round.

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Lia Bartha
Lia Bartha
mbg Contributor

Lia Bartha is a certified classically trained Pilates Instructor of over 10 years, based in New York City. Born in Hawaii with scoliosis, she was introduced to Pilates while working a corporate that took a major toll on her back. It didn't take long for her entire perspective on fitness to change forever, thanks to private Pilates instruction. And two kids later, she also started to understand the need for functional strength and a strong pelvic floor.

Bartha realized exercising needed to be more than just how it made you look on the outside. It needed to be meditative and releasing, while also lengthening and toning the body. She created and developed B The Method to help people look a little deeper inside themselves, mentally and physically, and tap into a deeper layer of the body to strengthen and lengthen, starting from the inside.