Leg Pull Front - Pilates Exercise

A Pilates Mat Exercise

Like plank/front support, leg pull front is a core strength builder that engages every part of the body. Leg pull front takes plank/front support a step further. By lifting one leg off the floor, you introduce instability that challenges the abdominals and shoulders to keep the trunk and pelvis stable as you move.

Leg pull front is considered to be a beginner level Pilates exercise. You don't need any equipment to do it, simply an exercise mat. You can do it at home or at the gym or Pilates studio.

Leg Pull Front Exercise - Begin in Plank/Front Support

The starting position, a plank pose.
The starting position, a plank pose.. Westend61/Getty Images
  • You will begin leg pull front in the plank/front support position.
  • Start on your knees. Place your hands on the floor in front of you, fingers pointing straight ahead. Keep your arms straight and your elbows unlocked.
  • Engage your abdominals and lengthen your spine, extending through the top of the head as you lean forward to put your weight on your hands.
  • Your shoulders should be directly over your wrists and settled in your back. That means there is a lot of space between your shoulders and your ears.
  • With your abdominals lifted, extend your legs back so that they are straight and together. Your toes are curled under so that some weight is on the balls of your feet.
  • Your ears, shoulders, hips and heels should be in one long line.

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Lift One Leg Away From the Mat

  • Extend one leg from the hip so that your foot lifts off the mat a few inches. Your foot can point softly as it is released from the mat.
  • As you extend your leg from the hip, your hip will lift slightly, but the challenge is to keep the rest of your body stable in plank position. This requires extra work from your abdominals, shoulders and back.
  • It is important that you initiate this move with your powerhouse and through the hip, not just from the back of the leg. Try not to get tense; use only as much energy as you need to keep perfect form. Focusing on length will help a lot.
  • Return your foot to the mat and extend the other leg.
  • Repeat the lift five to seven times on each side

Tips for Performing the Leg Pull Front Pilates Exercise

  • Think of leg pull front as an oppositional stretch where energy is moving in opposite directions, through your heels and out the top of your head.
  • Breathe deeply down the whole length of your spine, and fully into your lower ribs and back.
  • You will find that keeping your legs and butt engaged and pulling in toward the center will take some of the pressure off of the upper body, creating a more balanced exercise.
  • While the leg pull front exercise engages many muscles, you will first feel it in the calves, as that is the primary target. Secondary muscles engaged are the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, groin, abdominals and shoulders.

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