Leg circles are simple exercises that you need in your routine

Leg circles, also known as single or one-leg circles, are a great Pilates mat exercise to strengthen the core, glutes and hip muscles and improve pelvic stability. Best of all, it requires absolutely zero equipment. Ready to learn how to do it?

What is leg circle?

Leg circles are performed lying on your back and, as their name suggests, move one leg in a circular motion.

“Leg circles look easy, but they’re incredibly difficult to do correctly,” says Baltimore-based strength coach Erica Suter, CSCS, who incorporates Pilates-style exercises into her cross training, mobility, and core training. Read below to learn how to perform them correctly so you can get the full benefit of this move.

What muscles does the leg circle work?

“Leg circles crush the glutes, especially the hip abductors,” Suter says. Hip abductors sit on the outside of the hips, helping you move your legs away from the midline of your body and stabilizing your pelvis in everything you do on or off the mat. This move will also work your hip flexors—the opposites of your glute muscles—and your abs.

Leg circles also work as an isometric core exercise, requiring you to use your core muscles to support the weight of your raised leg and keep your spine and pelvis in proper alignment.

Leg circles: step-by-step instructions

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out in front of you and your arms extended by your sides, palms flat on the floor. Engage your core to press your lower back into the floor. You will maintain this back positioning throughout the exercise.
  • Straighten one leg with your toes pointing toward the ceiling.
  • From here, move your raised leg in large, controlled, clockwise circles, as if you were tracing circles in the air with your feet. Reverse the circles by moving counterclockwise for the same number of repetitions. Keep your core engaged so your back is connected to the floor.
  • Lower your leg to the floor and repeat with the opposite leg.

As you start doing this, you will find that the smaller you make the circle, the easier it will be to move. Start small, and then work your way up to bigger circles as you lock down your form and gain more strength.

Leg circle exercise variations

Listed from From the most beginner-friendly to the most challenging, these leg circle variations will help you progress your workout and meet your needs.

Side leg circle

  • Try this variation for a glute-focused exercise. Lie on your side, with one leg stacked on top of the other. Extend your lower arm straight and rest your head on it, while you place your other arm on the floor in front of your body for support.
  • Lift the upper leg up and perform leg circles. Your core will work less here than in a traditional leg circle, but your outer hips and glutes will have to work harder to fight gravity.

Bend-knee leg circle

  • To ease the movement and reduce the amount of stress placed on the core, complete the leg circle exercise (lying on your back) with the non-working leg bent and its foot flat on the floor.
  • This will make it easier to stabilize your pelvic and spinal alignment.

Raised leg circles

  • To make the movement harder, try moving both legs at once. Also called a double leg circle, this variation involves doing a leg circle exercise with both feet off the floor at the same time.
  • This will significantly increase the challenge of your core muscles.

Single-Leg Half Bridge Circle

  • Lying flat on your back with one foot on the floor, push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to rise into a single-leg glute bridge.
  • Maintaining this position, extend your raised leg straight up and point your toes toward the ceiling.
  • Keeping your hips level and stable, circle your raised leg counterclockwise and then reverse the direction for an equal number of repetitions. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Plank leg circle

  • Flip over and try the leg circle exercise from a plank position.
  • Get into a front plank, lift one leg off the floor and move it in small circles, trying to keep your hips still and level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.