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HardCORE Monday: Leg Drop

February 9, 2010

Why just tighten one major muscle group when you can work several with one simple exercise? The leg drop will teach you how to do just that – work the core with this leg-lengthening, ab-stabilizing move. You can modify it if need be so don’t get intimidated! Here we go:

  • Start by lying down on a mat, blanket, or towel and rest the small of your back on the floor. Maintain this “tucked” position of the lower back (also called “imprinting” in pilates) to protect the lower back and to further engage the transverse abdominals. Hands should be placed gently behind the head with fingers loose, NOT interlaced. We always want to protect the neck and interlaced fingers result in extra pulling, aka creating more tension. The head should rest comfortably in your hands and the gaze is straight ahead, between the knees.
  • Take your legs up to 90 degrees. Turn out the feet slightly and point your toes. Engage the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves as  you lower one leg down at a time, allowing it to hover over the ground rather than touching the floor.
  • As you alternate legs, maintain that “tuck” in the lower back to help you really engage those abdominals. If you are confused about what this means think of it like this: if you are tucked it is impossible for you to slide an arm under the small of the back. If there is space under your back for your arm to slide, you aren’t tucked. If your lower back peels up from the floor as you are dropping your leg down, you have lowered your leg too far!

To modify this move all you have to do is bend your knees at a 90 degree angle (otherwise known as table-top position) rather than straightening them at 90 degrees. Maintain the bend in the knee as you drop the leg down and the toes hover the ground. This way you are shortening the leverage so it’s less intense. And don’t forget to keep the small of the back flat on the ground.

To add more intensity to this exercise, try lowering both legs down at the same time. Doing this with your legs slightly turned out and toes pointed will enable you to also engage the inner thighs. To further the intensity of your inner thighs, create more resistance by placing either a ball, block, or pilates ring in between your legs.

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