Fitness: Power To Your Core Part 3 | Great Health Guide
Fitness: Power To Your Core Part 3

Fitness: Power To Your Core Part 3

 “Power To Your Core Part 3” written by Vanessa Bartlett and published in Great Health Guide (May 2016). This is the final instalment of this great series about using pilates to strengthen your core muscles. Read other fitness articles on our website. Great Health Guide is  a hub of expert-inspired resources empowering busy women to embody health beyond image … purpose beyond measure.

Fitness: Power To Your Core Part 3 written by Vanessa Bartlett

Pilates can build strength, tone up muscles, improve core strength, connect the mind and body and help flexibility. This final article of three looks at strengthening and shaping your hips, butt and thighs with Pilates and getting them in shape is certainly one of the most common ‘body’ goals of all time! It does take work – a delicate balance between eating well and using a combination of training methods that will not only strengthen and shape your outer muscles, but also your inner, supportive muscles.

When we look at ‘toning’ this area all we want is to look good and feel comfortable in our own body, while understanding the concept of ‘stability’ as mentioned in my previous two articles. The great thing is that by targeting these three key areas for ‘shape,’ by default you will be giving yourself a whole heap of strength and stability gains too.

Think about how we use our hips, butt and thighs every day. We stand, sit, walk and exercise. It is how we actually ‘move’ our whole body. So much depends on the ability of the body to correctly move and stabilise the hips and torso.

If, for example, you have a weak pelvic girdle and weak, deep lower abdominals, this will cause your body to ‘sway’ every time you take a step. This mis-alignment moves through your whole body and causes muscular imbalances over the long term. Sometimes in the short-term, it causes back and neck pain, pelvic pain, even sore knees and lower body pain. It’s all connected!

Getting started by focusing on exercises that train and strengthen your hips, butt and thighs is a great way to build and maintain strength. By focusing on the order in which you breathe and connect your muscles for movement, you are building your body awareness which helps to know if you are truly targeting the right areas.


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My Three Top Pilates-based exercises:

Side lying 2 copy

1. Side-Lying Leg Lift:

This exercise will tone your thighs, while strengthening your glutes and hips.

a. Lay on your side, arm holding up your head, body in straight line

b. Lift your waist off the floor by moving top leg down from rib cage 

c. Take a deep breath in and out, engaging your core, belly to spine

d. Inhale – slowly lift up top leg as if you are moving through resistance

e. Exhale – slowly close leg back down

f. Keep bottom leg straight, feeling it strong and long

g. Repeat x 10 (each side)

h. You can do this same movement with both legs lifted together for more inner thigh work and greater challenge. Be sure to keep hips stacked though.

2. Kneeling Side Kick:

kneeling side kick 1 copy kneeling side kick 2 copy

This exercise will tone, strengthen and stretch upper leg, while building stability for the hips and toning the butt.

a. Kneel onto your right side placing hand below your shoulder and lift up your torso, engage core

b. Keep spine straight and lengthened, do not fall forward – your hand is in line with your hip

c. Bring left hand onto hip or behind head

d. Ensure your body and legs are in a straight line, then slowly lift right leg upwards while the left leg stays on the floor; slightly rotate the right heel downwards to the floor so your thigh slightly rotates outward from the hip; ensure hips remain stacked

e. Keeping torso completely steady, inhale and flex your right foot kicking twice forward; move leg slightly further forward in the second kick

f. Exhale, glide leg back behind your body without dipping or swaying your torso. Try to get the leg back as far as possible while maintaining a strong core

g. Repeat x 10 each leg

3. Pelvic Bridge: 

pelvic bridge copy

This exercise helps strengthen muscles that support and stabilize pelvis and hip. 

a. Lay on back, bend knees with feet below hips

b. Inhale, exhale, engage core and feel spine lengthen out, stretching hips away from head

c. Inhale, press heels into floor and lift spine off floor, feeling as if tailbone is reaching through your legs, pause for a couple of seconds, feel glutes and hamstrings working

d. Exhale, lower spine down carefully, one vertebra at a time from the top

e. Ensure chest is open, while neck and shoulders remain on floor 

f. Press heels firmly into floor for glute and hamstring work

g. You can gently raise up one knee at a time to 90 degrees for greater challenge

Start working on these exercises and week by week you will find that you start to feel ‘new’ muscles as you do the same movement. You are bringing in mindfulness and focus to your exercise and the beauty is that you will be shaping and strengthening your butt, hips and thighs at the same time. For more exercises and workouts check out my  YouTube channel.

Author of this article:
Vanessa Bartlett has 14 years’ experience in the fitness industry and is a qualified journalist. She has appeared as a presenter for TVSN, The Morning Show and co-hosted a community TV lifestyle show. In 2013 she was part of a group award for ‘Innovation in Healthcare’ for helping teach mental health sufferers Pilates and meditation to complement their treatment. After suffering adrenal fatigue, herself, she is on a mission to empower people to become educated in holistic health practices, powered by Pilates. See Vanessa’s website for further information.

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