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.
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:
- Lie on your back on the mat. Lay your arms palm-down by your sides.
- Bend your left knee and keep your foot flat on the ground.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Sweep your foot slowly to the right, bringing your foot outward and pointing your leg out to the right.
- Continue the circle and bring your leg up again to the starting position.
- Put this all together to make a smooth, controlled circle in a counterclockwise direction.
- Repeat 5 times.
- Repeat another 5 times, but this time reverse the direction and do the circles in a clockwise direction.
- 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
- For a real challenge, raise both legs.
- Lie flat as described above.
- Keeping your feet together, raise both legs until they are perpendicular to the floor (your body will make an “L” shape).
- Bring your legs over to the right, down, left and up, ending with your legs back in the starting position (straight up).
- You can start with small circles and work up to big ones.
- 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.