How to Do the Double Leg Kick in Pilates
The Double Leg Kick is an intermediate Pilates mat exercise that stretches and strengthens the back of the body. While it stretches the shoulders and chest, it also helps tone and shape the hamstrings and glutes. This exercise will improve the stability and flexibility in the spine, and it will also help improve your posture. Be sure to warm up thoroughly before practicing this move with exercises like the Swan and Single Leg Kick. Do not practice this exercise if you have a back or shoulder injury.
- Begin by lying face-down on your mat with your legs extended behind you. Press your legs together and rest the tops of your feet on the mat. Do not tuck your toes.
- Turn your head to the left and rest your right ear and cheek on the mat.
- Reach your arms behind your back and bend your elbows out to the side, keeping your palms facing up. Clasp your right fingers with your left hand. Place your hands as high on your back as possible while keeping the fronts of your shoulders on the mat. Relax your elbows down toward the mat.
- On an inhalation, lengthen your spine a bit more and point your toes to prepare for the exercise.
- On an exhalation, kick both heels in toward your buttocks in three short pulses. Keep your upper thighs and knees pressed together.
- Inhale and lower your legs to the mat, keeping them fully extended. As you lower your legs, simultaneously lift and turn your head to face forward. At the same time, extend your arms behind your body, interlace your fingers with your palms facing your head, and reach your knuckles toward your heels. Lift your chest a few inches off the mat, and lift your hands a few inches away from your buttocks.
- On an exhalation, repeat the three kicks as you simultaneously return your head and chest to the mat. Return your arms to their starting position.
- Repeat up to five times. To release, exhale and slowly lower your chest and forehead to the mat. Then press your hips back to sit on your heels, but keep your forehead resting on the mat.
Hot Tip: Butt Down
Keep your hips and buttocks drawn down as you kick your heels in. It can be tempting to lift your hips and rock your lower body to kick deeper, but remaining stable will teach you to isolate your hamstrings. Using only your hamstrings will tone the back of your legs more efficiently!
Modifications & Tips
The Double Leg Kick will stretch your upper body while it simultaneously tones the lower body. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this exercise:
- Kick your heels as close to your buttocks as possible.
- When you lift your chest, anchor down through your pelvis to keep your upper body up and your chest open.
- Keep the tops of your feet pressing down into the mat when you lift your upper body.
- Keep your upper thighs and knees pressing together firmly throughout the exercise.
- Engage your pelvic floor.
- Do not lock your knee or elbow joints.
- Do not collapse as your upper body returns to the mat.
- Keep your neck long and the crown of your head lifting toward the ceiling when you lift your upper body.
- Stop if you feel any pain in your back.
- Coordinate your breath with your movement.
- Take it slowly and only practice this exercise when you are sufficiently warmed up.
Double Kick to Stand Tall
The Double Leg Kick will challenge your ability to move with precision and control while you coordinate your breath with your movement. It will improve your posture and tone the entire backside of your body! Remember to let your movements be fluid and smooth, not jerky or haphazard. The more you practice precision, the easier it will be to perform this move with grace and ease.