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?

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 three exercises in this challenge (full instructions below):

Exercise #1 thigh squeezes: lay with your back on the floor and squeeze the ring with your thighs.

Exercise #2 bridge: in this exercise, you hold the ring between your thighs as you lift up and down into the bridge position.  This is a Pilates bridge, which means that you roll through your spine rather than just lifting up and down into a glute bridge.

Exercise #3 bridge hold: from day 20 onwards, the third exercise is 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 chart below.  You can also download a printable copy by entering your e-mail in the box at the end of the post.

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.  If this applies to you, then leave exercise 3 out.

Instructions for exercises

Thigh squeezes

Pilates circle exercise 1

  • Lay on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat.
  • Position the circle between your legs, just above your knees, with the grips in contact with your legs.
  • Now squeeze and release the circle with your inner thigh muscles.

Exercise #2

Pilates circle exercise 2

  • Lay on the floor and position the circle as for thigh squeezes
  • Grip the ring firmly with your thigh muscles as you curl your spine away from the floor.  Lift your lower back first and then try to lift your spine one vertebra at a time until your body is in a straight line with your legs and your weight is supported on your shoulders, as shown.
  • Now reverse the movement,.  Lower your upper back first and then follow through with the rest of your spine.
  • Days 20-30: when you have completed your last lift, hold it here for the number of seconds shown on the chart.

Pilates circle challenge chart

Pilates circle printable fitness challenge | A Pilates circle is a useful piece of equipment to have for a home workout routine, because it’s 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. This 30 day fitness challenge builds strength in the inner thigh muscles using two Pilates exercises |workout printable schedule from My Fitness Planner

Sign up for My Fitness Planner updates and get a free printable download of this workout e-mailed to you:

After you sign up, you’ll get 2 e-mails:
The first will ask you for a one-click confirmation of your subscription
Once you’ve confirmed, you’ll get a second e-mail with a link to your download

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