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How To Do Side Leg Lifts


Updated June 26, 2014

Woman working her legs with a pilates roller. Click below for more in this series plus my other working out and staying fit images:
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Side leg lifts work the abs, especially the hard to get at obliques, as well as the inner thighs. Lifting the legs together keeps the inner thighs and buttocks engaged as the the abdominals pull in and up, developing core strength and balance.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 5 min.

Here's How:

  1. Prepare: Lie on your side with all body parts lined up so that your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and ears are in one line.

    Now move your legs slightly in front so that you are in a banana shape. This helps with balance and protects the lower back.

    You can prop your head up on your hand, or stretch the bottom arm out long and lay your head down. If you prop your head up, you must support your alignment by lifting your rib cage away from the mat.

    Make sure that your abdominals are pulled in. This is your key to using the abs for strength and stability.

  2. Inhale:
    The breath moves down the full length of your spine, making your entire body very long from tip to toe.

  3. Exhale:
    Use your abdominals and the engagement of your legs to bring both legs up a few inches off your mat.

    Focus on keeping your inner legs together, all the way from your sit bones to your heels.

  4. Inhale:
    Get longer still as you slowly lower your legs back down on the mat. Use control.

  5. Repetitions:
    Do this exercise 5-8 times. Turn over on your other side and repeat.


  1. Modify this exercise by leaving your head down on an outstretched arm.

  2. The front arm is just for balance. Use your core.

  3. Increase the challenge by pausing at the top of your lift for several breaths.

  4. This exercise is part of the Side Kick Series. You may want to try other exercises in the same group such as:
    Side Kick Front/Back
    Side Kick Up Down

What You Need

  • A Pilates Exercise Mat

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