Pilates Side-Lying Leg Lifts

Pilates Side-Lying Leg Lifts mobilize and stabilize the hips while strengthening the glute med (side bum) and improving core stability. Practice side-lying leg lifts after a thorough warm-up using the exercises below. Scroll to the bottom for the full video! Private reformer Pilates training is perfect whether you are a Crossfit enthusiast wanting to do more workouts, recovering from an injury or simply want to try something new is our focus.

Warm-up for Side-Lying Leg Lifts
  • Supine Hip Circles
  • Supine Hip Sways
  • Bridge Lifts
How to do Pilates Side-Lying Leg Lifts
  • Lie on your right side, with the right arm extended long so the head can rest on the bicep
  • Stack the legs, hips, and shoulders directly on top of one another
  • Draw your top hipbone down towards the feet, to lengthen out the top side of the body
  • Bring your pelvis into neutral alignment, drawing the abs in
  • Place the top hand on the floor in front of you for support, or on the top hip to challenge your balance
  • Inhale to prepare, as you exhale, lift the top leg straight up towards the ceiling, keeping the hip, knee, and toes pointing forward (square or parallel alignment)
  • inhale to lower the leg back down (keep the leg hovering off the bottom leg for added challenge)
  • exhale to lift the leg straight back up, keeping the hips stacked, pelvis neutral
  • Repeat 8-16x and repeat on the left
  • Keep the abs engaged, ribs knitting in the entire time to help with stability
  • Try to keep your gaze straight forward so the back of the neck stays long
  • Focus on keeping the top hip stacked as the leg lifts up
  • Keep the hand of the top arm firm on the floor for added stability
  • You can always bend the bottom knee in to 90 degrees if stacking the legs is too unstable
  • Keep the top shoulder soft away from the ear
  • Try flexing and pointing the foot to see if you feel it more in one position versus the other
  • Letting the belly relax
  • Looking down towards the legs
  • Letting your top hip roll backward as the leg lifts up
  • Externally rotating at the hip as the leg lifts up
  • Letting the top shoulder round forward or creep up toward the ear
  • Sticking the bum out behind you
  • Flaring the ribcage out

Bend the bottom knee if to 90 degrees and keep the top hand on the floor for more support. Decrease the range of motion in order to maintain a neutral pelvis. Take the movement as slow as you need to in order to stay balanced and in neutral alignment. Try adding a blanket or thin pillow under the head to support the head and keep the neck long.


Try internally rotating the leg for a few repetitions and then externally rotate the leg for a few repetitions. Try reaching the top arm up towards the ceiling for an added balance challenge. Let the foot hang limply to add more weight to the working leg. Add 8-10 pulses at the top of your range of motion after your last full range repetition.

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