November 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This is an awesome exercise to work the hamstrings, buttocks, inner thighs, lower back, and lower abdomen, as well as upper body stabilizers. Think butt lift—not butt squeeze—and picture everything toned throughout the whole backside of the lower body! Thinking about these things while you are exercising is part of the traditional Pilates and yoga experience. Think about what you want, not what you don’t like.

To perform this move, you will need a large towel—like a beach or bath towel. That’s it!

Setup & Starting Position:

  1. Fold a large towel in half and then in half again.
  2. Lay on your belly with the towel under your pelvis, so that the towel is approximately between your belly button and the top of your thighs (Those with longer torsos or longer legs will need to adjust more to find the correct center of gravity needed for this movement).
  3. Place your hands palms down under your forehead.

20121106_bs_1955-Edit

Exercise:

  1. Engage your lower abdomen/core.
  2. Lift both legs a few inches off the floor without sagging the lower back (Remember: Your abs must be engaged, so the lower back doesn’t strain with excess pressure).20121106_bs_1958-Edit 20121106_bs_1969-Edit
  3. “Beat” your heels together while lifted in the air.
  4. Inhale for 5 beats and exhales for 5 beats (Remember: Going for “the burn” means a lack of oxygen, which will make your technique suffer; and when your technique suffers, your lower back and/or neck will strain forehead.)

20121106_bs_1966-Edit 20121106_bs_1979-Edit

Tip: If your lower back is hurting, that means the lower abdomen isn’t doing its job. To ease back strain, try only lifting one leg at a time and move slower to get control over the movement—then increase to faster beats and/or with both legs.

Cindy Cook is ACSM Certified and owner of Legacy Pilates, Yoga & More. For more information, visit mindbodyprograms.com.