Get Pilates Strong: The Single Leg Kick

Get Pilates Strong: Single Leg Kick Step 1

You know how there are some exercise moves you just don't "get". The Single Leg Kick is one of those moves for many Pilates devotees. Somehow the shapes and muscle tensions elude many exercisers.  What follows are some simple instructions with specific fine tuning elements to help you get the most out of every single kick.

Step 1

Begin face down on your mat propped up on your elbows. Bring your fists to meet in front of you knuckles pressed together. Open the elbows sideways and press your forearms strongly down into the mat. Press your legs together and extend them long underneath you. Gaze straight ahead. To prepare, draw the abdominals inward and upward, scooping the midsection up off of the mat underneath you.  Tighten the seat muscles to press the hipbones down into the mat. Maintaining this preparatory position should be hard work in and of itself.

Timing: Instead of rushing through the setup in this move, take your time to establish a strong setup. Hold your prep position for 5 full breaths and let your muscles gather tension and strength. As the time extends create more resistance throughout your body pressing away from the floor underneath you.

Focus: Meeting the resistance of the floor and pulling up against gravity is your key focus. The weight of your body will continually pull downward. Resist the sinking sensation and fight to lift up away from the floor.

Form: Keep pulling everything towards the midline. The knuckles meet at the midline. The abdominals pull inward and upward toward the midline and the legs draw into the centerline as well. Working this way during the preparation will continue through the full exercise.

Get Pilates Strong: Single Leg Kick Step 2

Step 2

Maintain your preparation position and with a minimum of extra movement, bend your right knee kicking your heel towards your seat with two brisk pulses. Do not allow your body to sink or bounce as you kick. Instead hold stronger and higher, using your glutes to stabilize your torso. Switch legs quickly and continue with a double pulse for each leg. Perform 8 to 10 sets.

Timing: This is a brisk snappy exercise. The legs pass each other quickly in the air with each repetition. Do not slow down as you get closer to the end of the set. Keep a consistent tempo.

Focus: Hold stock still as you kick. The kicking of the leg is meant to challenge your stability. Fight to hold strong in the seat and torso regardless of the fast kicking of the legs. Press up strongly out of the shoulders using the strength of your Lats to stiffen the torso and help you brace against any unwanted motion. 

Form: No rock and rolling here. With each kick you may be tempted to roll of to one side or the other releasing one side of the abdominals and gluteal muscles. Keep your attention to the midline of the body and avoid and twisting or rotation as you kick. 

Tips and Tricks

Still not getting it? Try this: Pull the low abdominals from your belly button down right up off the mat. Repeat the exercise without allowing that area to make any contact with the mat. 

Too hard? If you feel knee pain or tightness, try reducing your range of motion. Opt for a smaller kick at a slower pace. If that's still too much, try separating the knees a bit. 

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