Although its name might suggest otherwise, the Single Leg Stretch is an abdominal exercise. It's one of several essential Pilates exercises for beginners that can easily be performed at home. The following step-by-step instructions guide you through it, and the accompanying video provides a visual aid.
Prep for Single Leg Stretch by lying on your back on your exercise mat. Raise your legs into tabletop position, squeezing your inner thighs together. Press your lower back into the mat and draw your abs in as you curl your body up. Keep your arms in close to your body, but reach them out long, so they extend past your glutes.
- Exhale and extend your left leg out long, pointing your toes.
- Switch your legs, bringing your left leg up toward your chest and extending your right leg out long, exhaling on the extension.
Continue to alternate legs, challenging yourself by aiming to lift your shoulder blades higher off the mat. The next version of the Single Leg Stretch adds in arm movement. Begin in the same position, with your upper body curled up, arms extended forward, and legs in tabletop position.
- Extend your left leg out, pointing your toe as you pull your right leg in, and grab your ankle.
- Hold for a moment and then switch, with the outside hand always going to the ankle to work on coordination. Keep your abs engaged and exhale deeply on each extension.
When you’re done with your repetitions, hold your legs in and rest your body down on the mat. To make the Single Leg Stretch most effective, keep trying to lift your body as high as you can off the mat and avoid arching your back when your abdominals get tired.