No equipment necessary.
Pilates is a great way to strengthen lower body muscles without adding stiffness, says instructor Ashley Patten. The reason? It focuses on eccentric exercises that stretch and lengthen muscles during each move. Here, instructors share their fave Pilates leg exercises.
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Lia Bartha likes this move to work the quads and hip flexors.
- Lie on side, rest head on bottom arm, bottom leg slightly bent.
- Extend top leg parallel to floor.
- Swoop top leg forward, circle it back.
Do 10-15 circles in each direction. Switch legs.
Jacquie Smith does this move to the hit inner thighs.
- Stand feet hip-width apart.
- Take a big step out to the right.
- When foot lands, hinge at hips, push butt back.
- Lower into lunge, keep weight in heel.
- Push back to start.
Do two rounds of 10 per leg.
Gia Calhoun likes these for the hamstrings and glutes.
- With knees bent, lift hips.
- Extend right leg high, point toes.
- Lower leg, flex foot, bring leg back up.
- Place right foot down.
- Repeat on left leg, keeping hips lifted.
- 10-15 per leg.
Kelley Nemiro-Feritta says this leg exercise hits your quads, calves, and inner thighs.
- Stand, feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, toes out.
- Squat, bend at knees, push hips back, core tight.
- Keep tension in glutes as you stand.
Do 3 sets, 12 reps.
Kate Cherichello says this move strengthens glutes, hips, and outer thighs.
- Get into plank position.
- Engage glutes, lift one leg a few inches off ground.
- Tap foot to ground.
- Switch legs.
Repeat 8x. Add ankle weight for an added challenge.
Amanda Kraft says this works hamstrings and quads.
- On side, prop up on elbow.
- Bend knees 90 degrees.
- Lift top leg, press it back and straight.
- Knees back together.
- Pulse top leg 10x at last rep.
Do 10x per side.
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Lesley Logan calls this a full-body move.
- Lie on back, pull knees into chest, heels touching.
- Reach arms straight back by ears as legs stretch to high diagonal.
- Circle arms back in, pull knees to start position.
Repeat 5-10 reps.