8 Pilates Mat Exercises to Tone the Abs, Thighs and Hips

Reviewed by: | Author: Manoja Kalakanti

Although strict diets and regular workouts might keep the weight under check but all of us crave that perfect body with chiseled abs and toned legs that we fail to achieve no matter how hard we toil in the gym. Well, regular exercise may help reduce weight and keep it under control but the fact is it requires special workouts to target and tone the problem areas like tummy, thighs and hips. But the secret to great abs and tones legs does not lie in expensive equipment and machines; it can be achieved even in your home with the help of Pilates.


Yes, my friend you have heard me right. Pilates is an advanced physical fitness system developed by renowned physical-culturist Joseph Pilates during the early 20th century and has since gained extreme popularity in several western countries like United States, United Kingdom, etc. Developing core strength is the basic aim of Pilates. It helps in raising flexibility and muscle strength and improves overall balance of the body.

Simple Pilates Based Exercises to Trim the Belly and tone Hip and Leg Muscles:

What’s great about Pilates is that it is highly adaptable and easy going. It can be modified according to the capability of the individual practicing it and the difficulty level can be regulated from beginner to advanced as the body gradually gets used to it.

Double Leg Lower Lift:

Lie face up on the mat and put your palms under your head with elbows wide open. Spread the legs and raise them upwards keeping them joined at the heels and inhale. Exhale as you pull your torso up from the floor and crunch your tummy, feel the tension in your back muscles and the abdomen at this point. Hold this position for a few seconds and then slowly lower your torso in the mat. Repeat this exercise 10 times at a stretch.

double leg lower lift

Criss Cross:

Lie straight on the mat. Place the palms below the head with shoulders wide apart. Bent the knees and pull it up to the sheens. Now pull up your head and shoulders up from the mat till the base of shoulder blades as you exhale. Now inhale and exhale as you spread your left leg out and twist your torso toward right as if to touch the right knee with your left elbow. Now inhale as you straighten your body and switch legs, exhale as you spread out the right leg and twist your torso towards left as if to touch the left knee with the right elbow. Repeat the set 10 times and gradually increase it.

criss cross

Leg Kick:

Lying on your left side, raise your torso till the waist and support it with your left arm and elbow and point your head towards the ceiling. Let your right arm rest on the floor in front of your body. Now, raise your right leg till hip length with the toe pointing forward, exhale and kick your right leg in the front as far as you can comfortably, count till two and bring it back to its original position. Repeat this 10 times on one side and then change sides and repeat it another 10 times with the other foot.

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leg kick

Leg Circle:

Lie flat on the mat with your palms by your side facing the floor. Raise your left leg straight up with the feet pointing towards the ceiling. Now make small circles in a clockwise direction with the left foot rotating the leg from the hips. Inhale as you start making the circle and exhale while finishing. Try to keep your posture as steady as possible while doing this by tightening your abs. Make 5 circles in the clockwise direction followed by 5 circles in the anti-clock wise direction. Repeat the same with the right leg.

leg circle

Toe Dip:

Lie face up with the knees bent at 900, lower legs and feet parallel to the floor. Rest your hands beside the body with palms facing down. Inhale and lower your left leg towards the floor without actually touching it, hold for 5 seconds. Exhale and slowly bring your leg back to the previous position. Repeat with the right leg. Repeat the entire set 10 times.

toe dip

Dolphin Arm Plank:

Lie face down on the mat and get on your elbows, lift your body up with the support of elbows and feet and take the position of a straight plank with your abdominal muscles pulled in. Note that the middle portion of the body should not sag, and the hips should not rise too high, the body should be in a straight line. Hold this posture for 5 breaths and get back to the former position. Repeat this exercise 4-5 times. In addition, it also helps in toning the arms, reducing arm fat and increasing strength.

dolphin arm plank

Side Bend:

Sit on the mat with your left hip resting on the floor and your left bent from the knees and resting in front. Place your left hand on the floor aligned with the shoulder. Rest your right foot flat on the floor in front of the left foot such that the right knee points upward. Rest your right arm straight on the right knee. Now tighten your abdominal muscles and lift up your body from the floor with the support of your left hand. Now, straighten your right arm and right leg such that it forms a straight line right from the tip of the right hand fingers to the toes. Hold the posture for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Repeat the entire set 3-4 times.

side bend

Back Arm Rowing:

Sit on the floor with your torso upright, knees bent and feet resting hip-width apart flat on the floor. Spread the arms in front with palms facing upward. Tighten the abdominal muscles and slowly lower the torso at an angle of 450 while closing your palms into fists and pulling your arms towards your body. Remain in the position for 10 seconds. Return to the previous position. Repeat the exercise 8-10 times.

back arm rowing

These simple and easy to do Pilates exercises can bring all the difference that you wanted to see in your body all this time. Include Pilates in your daily workout routine not only because it is a great toning method but because it helps to build up core strength and helps in relaxing and reducing stress.

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