Many of us have trouble toning and sculpting the sides of the glutes and upper leg. We often hear this area referred to as the saddlebags. As we learned in our last post, the gluteus medius serves to abduct the leg (moving the leg away from the center line of the body). This is the muscle that we must target and strengthen to rid ourselves of the stubborn saddlebags and to create sturdy, strong hips. Here are some of my favorite Pilates side lying exercises for working this area.

Exercise – Side Kicks

First, we will work the leg in a parallel position.

• Lie on a mat on your right side.
• Line the right side of the body (from head to hip) with the back edge of the mat.
• Stack the legs and bring the legs forward on a diagonal so the toes point toward the front corner of the mat.
• Your bottom arm can be straight or bent.
• Place your head on your arm with the eyes forward and the neck in line with the spine.
• The top hand should be pressed into the mat with the shoulder moving away from the ear.
• Keep the torso still and raise the top leg so the ankle is in line with the hip.
• The leg and foot should be in a parallel position.
• The bottom leg can remain straight or you can have it bent for easier balance.
• Inhale and bring the leg forward with the foot flexed (the toes should bend back to you).
• Exhale and reach the leg behind you with a pointed foot.
• Make sure the torso remains still as you move the leg.
• Repeat 10 to 12 times on each side.

Exercise – Turned Out Kicks

Now work the leg in external rotation.

• Line your head, torso, and legs up in the same way as you did for side kicks.
• Externally rotate the top leg so that the heels come together, the inner thigh faces forward, and the toes point to the ceiling.
• Inhale and lift the leg toward the ceiling with a pointed toe.
• Exhale and lower the leg with a flexed foot.
• Be sure the sides of the waist stay equally long as the leg travels up and down.
• Be sure the spine and pelvis remain still as the leg travels up and down.
• Repeat 10 to 12 times on each side.

Exercise – Upward Pulses

Now we’ll work the leg in internal rotation.

• Line up your head, torso, and legs in the same way as you did for the last two exercises.
• Bring the top ankle up in line with the hip and internally rotate at the top of the leg so the toes point toward the floor and the heel to the ceiling.
• The range of motion with this exercise is small.
• Inhale and lift the leg up.
• Exhale and lower the leg.
• Repeat 12 to 15 times on each leg.

Exercise – Circles

• Again, line your head, torso, and legs up in the same formation.
• You can do this exercise with a long leg or a bent knee.
• Bring the ankle up in line with the hip.
• The leg and foot can be in parallel, external, or internal rotation.
• Create the circle from the top of the leg.
• Circle the leg forward 6 to 10 times.
• Circle the leg back 6 to 10 times.
• Change sides and repeat.
• The circle you are drawing with the foot should only be the size of a coffee cup saucer.
• Again, the spine and pelvis should remain still as you move the leg.

Have any thoughts? Let me know!

~by Jennifer Gianni

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