Pop star, NBC’s “The Voice” coach, dedicated vegan and animal activist are just a few of the titles Miley Cyrus has earned. She has been very vocal about her love of animals and her vegan lifestyle since 2014. There’s no doubt her healthier, vegan diet has helped her maintain her slender figure, but she also attributes her toned body to yoga and Pilates. Having worked one on one with Mari Windsor, owner of Winsor Pilates Studios in L.A., Miley Cyrus built a good foundation for strong glutes and legs. The entire Pilates leg series develops long and lean muscles like a dancer. Using only your own body weight, these moves are low impact and require lots of core control while using both small and large muscles in your legs. Follow along with Miley’s Pilates side leg kick series to get toned and lean legs like hers. The emphasis in Pilates is always quality over quantity so execute each move slowly with control. (I am in the third trimester of my pregnancy and all of these exercises are safe to do while pregnant.)
1. Leg Lifts– Lie down on your left side with your back lined up with the back edge of your mat. Your legs should be stacked in parallel at a 45-degree angle in the front corner of your mat. Prop your head up with your left arm and place your right hand on the ground in front of you for support. For more of a challenge, you can put your right hand behind your head and use your core to keep your torso stable while moving your legs. Stay in this position for the rest of the series until you switch sides. Turn your legs out from your hips, keeping your heels together and toes apart. You may flex your bottom foot and dig your toes into the mat for stability. Kick your right leg up as high as you can with your foot pointed. Flex your foot to slowly lower your leg down, squeezing your inner thighs. Create resistance on the way down as if someone is holding your leg up as you press it down. Do 10 reps.
2. Bicycle Kicks– With your legs in parallel and your top leg lifted to hip height, kick your top leg straight forward towards your nose. Bend your knee, bring your heel to your bottom without dropping the knee and then extend your leg back behind you. Do your best to resist arching your back when you bring your heel to your bottom and extend the leg. Repeat the sequence, kicking forward again for 8 reps before reversing the motion for 8 more.
3. Small Circles Leg Rotations– Hold your top leg in parallel at hip height. Do 10 small circles, never dipping your leg lower than your hip in one direction and then reverse for another 10 circles. Keep your toes pointed and lengthen the top leg as if you are trying to make it longer than your bottom leg with each deliberate circle.
4. Big Circle Leg Rotations– When you finish your small circles, keep your top leg in parallel at hip height. Kick your leg as far forward as you can. Turn your leg out from your hip as you bring your leg up to your side, aiming for behind your right shoulder. Try not to let the leg dip down as you transition from front to side. Turn your leg back to parallel as you circle the leg back down behind your body without arching your back. Bring your leg back to center to complete one circle. Do 8 big circles in each direction.
5. Hot Potatoes– Turn your legs out with your heels together and toes apart. Point your right foot and kick your leg straight up behind your right shoulder. Bring your leg forward aiming for the front corner of your mat and tap your foot on the ground three times. Kick your leg back up and then lower it down behind you aiming for the back corner of your mat and tap your foot three more times on the ground. Repeat this sequence with two taps front and back and then one tap front and back. The speed is quick and you will get a dynamic stretch in your hamstrings and inner thighs along with working your outer glute and hip muscle.
6. Elevated Clams– Stack your legs with your knees bent. Your heels should be in line with your glutes. Lift your feet off the ground to hip height. Squeeze your top glute to lift the right knee up to the sky, keeping a hip-over-hip alignment. Slowly lower the top knee back down and repeat. Do 20 reps.
Once you have finished the entire leg series on one side, turn around on your mat and repeat it on the other leg. This Pilates leg series proves that you don’t need to compromise your joints with high impact moves or heavy weights to achieve long lean and defined legs.
Have you ever tried a Pilates Mat class?
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Photo: Miley Cyrus via Instagram; Video: Crystal Chin