How To Do Leg Circles Properly

Leg circles, also known as single or one-legged circles, are classical strength training exercises that target the glutes, core and hip muscles.

The exercises can be done right at home since they do not require any equipment.

The single-leg circle exercise is the third exercise performed in the basic 10 Pilates exercise routines.

Like most Pilates exercises, leg circles combine stretching and strengthening moves to major muscle groups on both sides of the body.

In addition, it promotes overall body balance and improved functioning in the hips.

HOW ARE THE LEG CIRCLES PERFORMED?

Here’s how to do it:

  • Step 1: Get a wide and open space. Place a mat, an exercise mat such as a yoga mat on the floor to act as a cushion, allowing you to exercise comfortably.
  • Step 2: Lie on the mat with your back, having your legs extended on the floor and arms by your sides. Hold your legs tightly together.
  • Step 3: Engage your core and pull its muscles in, anchoring the pelvic region and shoulders. Raise your right knee towards the chest and then extend it straight toward the ceiling.
  • Step 4: Move the raised leg up in large, controlled, clockwise circles. The motion should be similar to tracing circles in the air with your foot. Do this for 6 reps.
  • Step 5: Reverse the circle motions in an anticlockwise direction for the same number of reps. Lower the leg down to the floor and repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Do this for at least 2-3 sets. Make sure your core is engaged so that the back stays connected to the floor.
  • Visit the link to view a simple demo on the workout.

WHAT MUSCLE GROUPS DOES LEG CIRCLES WORK?

The exercise targets the following muscle groups:

ABDOMINAL MUSCLES

The abdominal muscles are made up of rectus abdominis muscles as its largest muscle in the mid-section of the abdomen.  Internal and external obliques also make up the abdominal muscles. Their main function includes rotating the spine, tilting the pelvis, and the curvature of the lower spine.

HIP FLEXORS

Hip flexors are a group of muscles that are involved in bringing the legs towards the body (flexing the hip). The main flexors are iliopsoas muscles. The muscles stabilize the trunk during physique-intensive activities.

HAMSTRING MUSCLES

Hamstring muscles are made up of 3 major types of muscles: biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus.

Strengthening hamstrings will improve the stability of the thighs, upper leg, and knees. This will improve your performance in daily activities such as sports.

BENEFITS OF LEG CIRCLES

The exercise has numerous benefits to the overall lower-body training. They include:

BUILDS STRONGER MUSCLES

Leg circles are essentially a strength training exercise. Muscles tire up overcoming the resistance generated while performing the exercise and hence strengthening the muscles.

The body’s core is important in performing physique-intensive day-to-day activities. The leg circles build strength in the hips, glutes, and abs, all of which help to build up a strong core.

IMPROVES MOBILITY AND FLEXIBILITY AND HENCE REDUCE BODY PAINS

Leg circles involve a lot of core muscles.

Repeated reps of the exercise build up muscle flexibility, endurance, and stability through the range of motion of the hip movement.

Strengthening the muscle helps to prevent or reduce body pains such as back pains.

IMPROVES COORDINATION AND BALANCE

The leg circles require a great deal of focus, coordination, and balance to get the exercise right. Over time the body develops great coordination and balance.

COST-FRIENDLY EXERCISE

The exercise does not require any equipment to perform. This makes it a great cost-friendly workout that can be done right at the comfort of your home.

The only must-have equipment is a soft surface such as a yoga mat that will act as a cushion to make the exercise more comfortable.

ALTERNATIVES TO LEG CIRCLES

There are great alternatives to the exercise, such as:

REVERSE CRUNCHES

Reverse crunches are a challenging core workout exercise that works the rectus abdominis- the abdomen muscle that makes up the “six-pack”.

They are great for beginners and advanced fitness enthusiasts. For a start, a few reps are recommended. However, as you get stronger, you can increase the reps.

They are a great alternative since they target multiple muscle groups such as the core abdominal muscles, transverse abdominis muscles, obliques, and upper abs.

STANDING KNEE RAISES

Standing knee raises, also known as standing knee crunches are a functional abdominal exercise that boosts strength throughout the core.

They work upper and lower abs, hips, back, and shoulder muscles. In addition, they help to raise the heart rate, and burn calories during the workout.

REGULAR CRUNCHES

Crunches are a classic core exercise that trains the abdominal muscles as part of the core. In addition, they work the obliques, as well as muscles on the pelvic, lower back, and hips.

Regular crunches are bigger-friendly, can be done without gym equipment, and effectively trains the abs.

LEG CIRCLES MISTAKES TO AVOID

To achieve the maximum effect from the workout then you have to avoid the following:

AVOID ARCHING YOUR BACK

Arching your back, allowing your lower back to come off the ground will shift focus from the abs to the hip flexors. This, therefore, reduces the impact on the abs as they aren’t lilting the load.

Moreover, arching increases strain on your lower back’s joints, bones, and ligaments. Over time this can cause back pain or injury.

AVOID PLACING YOUR HANDS UNDERNEATH YOUR HIPS

Avoid placing your hands underneath your hips as this makes the exercise easier.

It reduces the effectiveness of the exercise on your abdominal muscles and increases the risk for back pains especially when your lower back starts to arch up off the ground.

AVOID MOVING TO QUIKLY

Avoid swinging your legs quickly through the circles. The leg’s motion should be performed at a slower speed to ensure that you are working the target muscles.

Stronger muscles are built up when they tire up fighting the resistance and tension generated.

Moving your legs too quickly invokes momentum to complete the circles, shifting focus on the abs, which are the target muscles.

CONCLUSION

Leg circles are a simple home workout exercise that can be done right at the comfort of your home or at the gym either as a stretch or as the main workout.

They guarantee a healthy fit body if properly done over time.

Most importantly, consistency is key in achieving your gym goals. Be sure to keep a consistent track record on your workout routine to achieve the best effect on the target muscles.