Weekend Challenge: Single Leg Circle - Save Our Bones

Today’s Weekend Challenge is really exciting because it does more than just strengthen your core muscles necessary for good balance and posture.

The Single Leg Circle will also give you a more youthful and fit look because it helps remove those unsightly “love handles” that tend to grow over the winter. And as the weather starts to warm up in the Northern Hemisphere, this exercise will get you toned and ready for bathing suit season.

Why: You’ll notice I talk a lot about core muscles, and for a good reason. Located in your pelvis, torso, and abdomen, your core muscles keep your pelvis and spine aligned and stable. Even though they are located in the central areas of your body, they influence upper back and limb movement.

In fact…

Your Core Muscles Are Involved In Nearly Every Movement Your Body Makes

Strong, supple core muscles allow you to move with grace and poise, and they promote good balance and posture. Balance is key in avoiding falls resulting in fracture, while proper posture helps you avoid Dowager’s Hump, the rounded, hunched upper back often associated with osteoporosis and aging.

In addition, working your core keeps your spine aligned, which decreases back pain and allows your bones to get the most benefit from weight-bearing exercise.

Working Your Core Tones Your Waistline

With swimsuit season approaching, I’m sure you want to look and feel your best before heading out to the pool or beach. Toned core muscles improve your stability, slim your waistline and flatten your tummy. Single Leg Circles also firm up your legs.

How: Grab an exercise mat or blanket to get started.

Let’s begin with your right leg:

  1. Lie on your back on the mat. Lay your arms palm-down by your sides.
  2. Bend your left knee and keep your foot flat on the ground.
  3. Anchor your pelvis by pulling your lower abdominals in, and anchor your shoulders. Your hips and shoulders should not “rock” or move from this position.
  4. Raise your right leg toward the ceiling as far as you can – try to get your leg perpendicular to the floor. It’s okay to bend your right knee.
  5. Move your raised right leg toward your left hip, then slowly lower it almost to the floor. (If this is too difficult, keep your foot higher off the floor.)
  6. Sweep your foot slowly to the right, bringing your foot outward and pointing your leg out to the right.
  7. Continue the circle and bring your leg up again to the starting position.
  8. Put this all together to make a smooth, controlled circle in a counterclockwise direction.
  9. Repeat 5 times.
  10. Repeat another 5 times, but this time reverse the direction and do the circles in a clockwise direction.
  11. Switch legs and repeat 5 times in one direction, 5 times in the other or as many times as you comfortably can.


  • Do not tilt your pelvis or your shoulders – they should stay flat on the mat.
  • Go slowly.
  • If it is too difficult, make a smaller circle and work up to the full sweep described above.

If you find this too easy, you can try these more challenging variations.

Variation #1: Non-Working Leg Stays Extended

For this variation, you’ll keep the non-working leg (the one not making the circle) extended and flat on the floor. Then follow the instructions above. You’ll find this much more challenging.

Variation #2: Both Legs Up

  1. For a real challenge, raise both legs.
  2. Lie flat as described above.
  3. Keeping your feet together, raise both legs until they are perpendicular to the floor (your body will make an “L” shape).
  4. Bring your legs over to the right, down, left and up, ending with your legs back in the starting position (straight up).
  5. You can start with small circles and work up to big ones.
  6. Repeat as described for the Single Leg Circle.

Practicing the Leg Circles regularly is a great way to tone your body, strengthen your core muscles, and build your bones. I’d love to know how you’re doing with this new exercise so please leave your comment below.

Keep moving!

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. BG

    I find your new exercise ideas to be a fun motivation because they challenge me and inspire me to continue. I mostly like your exercises where you are lying on your back because I like to exercise in my loft bed– ha!– true. I always have fun moving my legs around while lying in bed but never thought of the exercise to move two legs together in a circle. Thanks for this fun reminder to exercise, I need that social network, much appreciated! I could share an exercise I made up while lying in bed, on my back with my knees bent and my feet flat on the bed: I pretend a string is connected to my belly button through my back, with a knot on the belly button side. Then I pretend I pull the string down so the back is pulled down flat and the stomach muscles are tight, then I crunch forward without lifting my back off the floor. Then I push my hands against my knees– hard– to really stretch and lengthen my spine and slightly roll my shoulders back. Then I go back to the first step. These is a simple, not strenuous exercise, fun for me; I do 100 reps and my stomach muscles are hard as a rock at age 65– this is the main stomach exercise I do. Have a great exercise day!

  2. Kathy

    I also want to thank you for writing it out. I am not in a position to have a video set-up so that I can exercise while watching it – thus, video is waste of time.
    One other thing worth mentioning is the importance of “working with the breath” as advocated in Yoga.

  3. Joan

    These are all great yoga exercises which I have been doing. My question is should you do any warmup exercises before starting

  4. Mary from Toronto, ON

    I would like to joing the applause with my THANKS, Vivian, for all the exercises you recommend. In working so hard to improve our physical wellbeing, you are simultaneously serving the Lord our God. When you do that intentionally, you give Him great glory!

  5. Karen

    Is there a way that the excerises and their instructions could be made to be printed without the email comments? I would like to have copies, so I could remember how to do them when not close to the computer.

    • Ann

      Just highlight what you want to print and in the print dialog box check “selection.” Or, you can highlight what you want to print, or even the whole page, then copy it to an email or word document and then eliminate what you don’t want to print.

  6. Ayesha Hansa

    Dear All, about 2 months ago I complained about not receiving the Save our Bones program which was ordered at the end of October 2013. I was an extremely unhappy customer.

    Today I’d like to report that I’m extremely excited & grateful to Elizabeth for ensuring that I receive the program together with the extras like OsteoCleanse and the Densercise. Better late than never.

    NB: I live is South Africa!!

  7. Marlene Brotherhood

    I can’t follow the instructions; specifically, at point 3 it says to lower your foot near to the floor…but the pictures show nothing like that. Can you clarify?

    • Kathrin

      The secind foot shall float over the floor but musn’t touch it.

  8. Janet

    Love to see your exercises but I have had both hip replacements and a neck fusion and find it difficult. I am trying to adapt safely to manage the movements. There appears to be nothing out there for people like me so I value your exercises as they are the nearest thing I can find that suit me..Even the Doctor can offer no advice and physios are not geared up to it either. As with most things everything in moderation and with caution. Please keep up the good work. Thank you

  9. elaine goodman

    dear vivian , your depth and knowledge of your studies is so exciting .you have influenced me so many times in so many ways . thank you ,sincerely elaine.

  10. JoAnne Sidell

    Thank you for writing it out and not using a video;
    I don’t have time to watch videos

    • Patricia

      I agree with you! I don’t like videos either!!!

  11. Mollie

    Will it be OK for me to do this leg circling exercise? I have bilateral total hip replacements. I never know just how far I can safely exercise. Many thanks.

  12. Charles Adamson

    Your diagram shows the same direction in picture 3 and 5.

  13. Anna.t

    Another good suggestion! Thank you Vivienne.

  14. Christine (U.K.)

    Have been looking for someone to show me these exercises for months. Thank you Vivian for being the one we can rely on to show us these exercises. 🙂

  15. shula


  16. shula

    Looks good, hopefully also feels good.

  17. Tasha Cunliffe

    PILATES in action. Pilates works!!!
    You can check out Pilates for Buff Bones for more movements to encourage bone strength!!!
    Thanks, Vivian for all your latest updates on osteoporosis.

  18. Jo Collins

    I have already been doing this exercise using the small circles every other day for two weeks. The off day I am always in lower back pain. I am wondering if I am doing more damage or if this is really helping me. I have scoliosis, does this play into it somehow?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Jo, my philosophy on exercising is always: if it hurts, stop! You might stop doing the leg circles for a few weeks and see if the lower back pain clears up. 🙂

  19. Ms. L. Carmel

    Hi! Vivian,

    Thank You Very Much For Sharing The Single Leg Circle Exercise With Us. It Looks Like It Help You In Many Ways.

    Take Care, And Stay Well.


  20. Mary Cobabe

    I have a Fully torn hamstring.I am 82 years young. The doctor- a specialist— that i was sent to see told me “There is nothing I can do for you. It might take 7 years for it to heal.” Now my heart Doctor said –when I told him it was hard to exercise with the pain of this hamstring– “You are just using that as an excuse,football players get treatment & go right back and play football in 2 weeks.” Well I am not a football player & this happened to me when I was sound asleep at 3:30 AM. There was a loud crack and so much pain I could not stand up.I use a walker so as not to fall. Do you think these exercises would help me or would they stretch too much. Just bending over very far causes lots of pain.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Mary, I am so sorry to hear about your painful muscle injury, and I wish you a speedy recovery! Since I am not a doctor, I can’t advise you as to whether or not this exercise would be beneficial or harmful to you. Perhaps you could talk to a naturally-minded doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist who can review your medical history and devise an exercise plan that works for you. 🙂

    • Joanna Linder

      I am “over the moon” that I came across this site. I am very interested in what was replied…or will be replied to Mary Cobabe as I have a similar problem, and would not want to stretch too much and do any harm. Very informative. Thanks!

  21. Eileen

    Thank you for this, Vivian!! My nutrition counsellor described the same exercise in the hopes that it would help my sciatica; now I have it all in writing, step-by step, and will know that I am doing it correctly. That’s just what I needed!!!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I am so glad, Eileen! It really helps to see it written out. 🙂 I hope you derived great benefit from this exercise!

  22. Penny Mortimer

    We do a similar exercise while doing Aqua aerobics, only standing on one leg , keeping back straight, bending the other leg and circulating outwards and also changing rotation. I will try your way.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      It’s good to try variations of exercises! I would like to hear how it works for you “on land,” Penny. 🙂

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