Pilates Side Kick Front/Back

Pilates Side Kick Front and Back

Side kick front back prep. photo: Lara Kolesar, courtesy of Peak Pilates(c)

This Pilates mat exercise, also called the Side Kick Front/Back, tones the thighs, hips and abs. Use it to work the back muscles, the abdominals, the hamstrings, and the hip flexors.

It is also a balance challenge, calling forth the ability to use core muscles to stabilize the pelvis and allow the legs to move independently.

What you need: Pilates mat.

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

Preparation for Side Kick Front/Back

  • Lie on your side and line up your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Your shoulders should be stacked one on top of the other, as should your hips.
  • Lightly support your head with your hand, making sure to lift your ribs away from the mat so that your back and neck stay in alignment.
  • Modify this position by reaching your bottom arm straight out along the mat above your head and resting your head on it.
  • The front hand rests firmly, palm down, on the mat in front of your chest. Use this hand for balance, but don't depend on it - depend on your abs.
  • Now move your legs slightly in front of your hips. This will help stabilize your trunk and protect your lower back.
  • Rotate your legs outward slightly from the hips, in Pilates stance.

Now you are ready to perform Side Kick Front/Back

Kick to the Front

pilates mat exercise
Side kick front. photo: Lare Kolesar, courtesy of Peak Pilates(c)

  • Lift your top leg a few inches. Flex your foot and send energy out through the heel.
  • With your foot flexed, swing the top leg to the front. At the full length of your kick, do a small pulse kick.

There will be a slight adjustment of the pelvis as you move your leg forward, but there should be no real rocking of the pelvis or the shoulders. The intent is to develop core strength so that you can freely move the leg in the hip socket, independent of the rest of the body.

Kick to the Back

pilates mat exercises
Side kick back. photo: Lare Kolesar, courtesy of Peak Pilates(c)

  • Keeping length in your leg and through your whole body, point your toe and sweep your top leg to the back. Pause, but do not do a pulse kick.
  • Only reach as far back as you can go without crunching the low back or moving the pelvis. Again, a big part of the challenge of the exercise is to use the core muscles to keep the entire trunk of the body stable. No rocking of the pelvis or the shoulders!
  • Flex your foot and kick to the front.
  • Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times.

To Develop the Side Kick Front/Back Exercise:

  • Pick up the pace: As you get comfortable with the leg pattern, step up the pace and try to get a nice flowing rhythm going with the swing of the leg -- flex kick, little kick, swing back.
  • Breathing: I have seen this exercise taught with natural breath (deep, of course). That is where you should start. When you are ready, try inhale to the front and exhale to the back. A little more challenging is to exhale to the front and inhale to the back.
  • Increase the Challenge: Bring the front hand to the back of your head with the chest very wide, elbow pointing to the ceiling. Only do this if you have mastered moving the leg without losing the stability and alignment of the pelvis and shoulders.

The next step is to try kneeling side kick or to carry on with the side kick series.

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