Let Leg Slides Help You Find Your Abs

Leg slidesLeg slides are one of my favorite exercises. The challenge is to keep your spine in neutral while sliding your leg along the mat. It sounds easy, but it can be quite challenging. The pelvis may want to tilt or rock from side to side as the leg moves. However, it’s the job of the core muscles to keep everything in the torso neutral while the leg moves.

Because of this, leg slides are a core exercise. However, this exercise doesn’t just help you find and correctly work core muscles. For me, it helps me feel a hollowness in my abdominal cavity.

Part of the point of Pilates breathing is that you exhale so fully that you don’t have any extra air trapped in your ┬áribs or gut. Most people can tell when they have exhaled fully in their chest, however, it’s a bit of a trick to know if there’s air in your gut.

As your leg slides straight along the floor, feel how your organs hover near your spine. When you exhale and start to bring your leg back to starting position, feel how your organs somehow sink even closer to your spine. Notice how this makes your abdominal cavity feel.

Leg Slides

  1. Begin on your back with your knees bent, heels in line with your SITs bones.
  2. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
  3. Make sure your spine is in neutral. If your abdominals are weak, make a triangle with your hands by connecting your pointer fingers and thumbs. Place this under your sacrum (tailbone) to help keep your pelvis neutral throughout the exercise. Otherwise, let your arms rest by your side.
  4. Take a nice, deep inhale.
  5. Completely exhale. Feel the air leave your abdominal cavity and chest, but don’t let your spine move.
  6. We will use Pilates breathing.
  7. Inhale and slide your right leg away from you, keeping your heel in line with your SITs bone. You should use your whole inhale as your leg slides away. Flex your foot and feel like a rubber band is connected from your heel to your SITs bone. As your leg straightens, the tension in the rubber band increases.
  8. When your leg is perfectly straight, immediately exhale and start to bend your knee. Feel the tension in the imaginary rubber band decrease as you draw your heel toward your SITs bone.
  9. Each time your leg slides, feel your organs settle and your abdominal cavity hollow.
  10. Do 5-10 reps.
  11. Switch legs.

Leg Slides Modification

You can work the legs individually, completing all the reps on each side before switching, or you can do alternating or reciprocal leg movement. With alternating legs, you would, for example, slide the right leg, bring it back in, then slide the left leg, and bring it back in.

Reciprocal leg movement means that you slide your right leg and, as you right leg slides back up, your left leg slides out. Then, as your left leg slides up, your right leg slides out. This way, your legs are constantly in motion. I find this to be the most challenging version of this exercise.

Leg Slides Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

Well? What did you think? Could you really feel your abdominal cavity hollow out? Let us know in the comments.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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