Pilates circle challenge – how to improve your thigh strength

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The Pilates circle is a useful piece of equipment to have for home workouts, because it is cheap, easily stored and versatile. You can use it to work your arms, core and legs. It’s particularly useful for inner thigh exercises, as it’s hard to add resistance to inner thigh work outside of the gym.

What is a Pilates circle?


Also known as a magic circle, or Pilates ring, the Pilates circle is a very simple design. It’s just a ring of covered flexible metal, with hand grips either side. The purpose Pilates designed it for was to help improve the “connection” between the core and other parts of the body. However, it can also be used to increase the challenge of some Pilates exercises, or as a prop for other (non-Pilates) exercises.

Although you don’t see them often in high street fitness stores, Pilates circless are widely available online. They all follow the same basic design, so it’s just a matter of choosing a brand/colour/price that you’re happy with.

Working the inner thighs

The inner thighs are an area that can be flabby and lack tone. The main action of the inner thigh muscles is to bring the leg towards and across the mid-line of the body. In the gym there are machines specifically for this, or cable machines work well too for inner thighs. At home, however, it can be hard to challenge the muscles enough to really make a difference. The Pilates circle is a good solution to this. When it’s between your legs, it creates resistance against the action of your inner thigh muscles. This makes them work hard as you squeeze the ring.

Pilates circle challenge for inner thighs

There are two exercises in this challenge. In the first, you lay with your back on the floor and squeeze the ring with your thighs. In the second, you hold the ring between your thighs as you lift up and down into the bridge position. From day 20 onwards, there are static holds in the bridge position. As with all fitness challenges, the idea is to progress by a manageable amount each day. You start off with just 10 thigh squeezes and by the end of the challenge you will have worked up to 40 of each exercise, with a 20 second hold in the bridge position. All the reps and hold counts are on the printable download – see the links at the bottom.

Before you start this challenge, please see these general exercise guidelines. Please also note that holding a muscle contraction for several seconds or more isn’t advisable for those with high blood pressure.

4 week butt training program in the Fitness Planner Shop

  • Workout printable

Instructions for exercises

Exercise 1

Exercise 2

More thigh workouts

Improve your thighsThigh exercises challenge

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