Kneeling Side Kick Front/Back Pilates Exercise

Kneeling adds a new level of difficulty to a Pilates side kick front/back. This is a more challenging core exercise, giving the back and abdominals a workout.

The kneeling side kick front/back is an advanced-intermediate Pilates move. If you are not familiar with the side kick exercises, please practice the regular version of side kick front/back before adding the balance challenge that kneeling presents.

Equipment Needed for the Kneeling Side Kick

You need an exercise mat or padded bench to perform this on. No other equipment is required.

You can perform this exercise at home, at the gym or the Pilates studio.

Starting Position for the Kneeling Side Kick Front/Back

A Pilates instructor helps a student.
A Pilates instructor helps a student. Credit: Liam Norris/Getty Images

Begin kneeling. Pull your abdominals in and drop your tailbone toward the floor.

Extend your right leg directly out to the side, with your toe on the floor.

Drop your left hand to the floor, directly under your shoulder, leaving your arm straight. This will take your torso to the side.

Keep your shoulder open by dropping your shoulder blades down your back and rotating your arm so that your inner elbow crease rotates outward.

For now, place your right hand on your hip.

Extend Your Pose

Yoga pose outside Neydo Monastery near Kathmandu in Nepal. Credit: Alex Treadway / Getty Images

Place your right hand behind your head with your bent elbow pointing toward the ceiling.

Lengthen your right leg away from you as you lift it to hip height.

Your supporting thigh should be as close to vertical as you can get it.

At this level, it is important to make sure that you are truly fulfilling the moves that you engage in. Take a moment to make whatever adjustments you need to set your alignment. Go for a long, straight line from your right ear to your right toe so that your hips and shoulders are stacked vertically and your chest is open with a good counter stretch moving between your support hand and the elbow of the top arm.

Kick Front

Woman performing boat pose, side view. Credit: PhotoAlto/Alix Minde / Getty Images

Flex your foot and swing your top leg to the front. At the full length of your kick, do a small pulse kick, extending energy along the back of your leg and out your heel.

Do this move on a two part inhale. Inhale to swing the leg front, add more air to pulse kick.

Make your movement smooth and controlled. The goal is to be able to move the leg in the hip socket without moving the rest of the body.

Kick Back

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Keeping length in your leg and extension through your whole body, point your toe and sweep your top leg to the back. Pause, but do not do a pulse kick.

This is a smooth exhale. Only reach as far back as you can go without losing your alignment. You may find this to be a good hip opener.

Repeat the exercise 6 to 8 times on each side.

Alignment and Principles

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As you work on this exercise, focus on alignment through core stability, and call on your Pilates principles, such as breath, control and flow, to take your workout to the next level.

You will find a detailed before and after comparison of this exercise in the article, Kneeling Side Kick, Form and Oppositional Stretch

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Muscles Engaged in the Kneeling Side Kick Front/Back

Gym Classes Doing Stretching Exercises. Credit: Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

The primary targets of the knelling side kick front/back are the hip flexor muscles. It also engages the obliques and both the hamstrings and the quads of the front and the back of the thighs. The lower back muscles and groin muscles are also challenged.

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