Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes


The side-lying leg press is an intermediate level mat exercise that is performed with the use of the Pilates magic circle. When done correctly, this exercise targets your glutes, core and inner thighs. Basically, this workout is an ideal thigh exercise that helps strengthen and tone your inner thighs.

The side-lying leg press with magic circle in Pilates is done to improve stability, and the exercise is similar to standing leg press and side-lying Pilates mat exercises. If you’re a beginner, you may want to try these before including the magic circle in your exercise regimen.

How to practice the side-lying leg press with magic circle in Pilates correctly?

To perform this exercise, follow the instructions given below.

Step-by-step instructions:

  • Lay out a yoga mat on a flat surface.
  • Lie down on the mat on your side, and put the magic circle above your ankles. Make sure your hips and shoulders are in a line and straight.
  • Move both your legs in front of the line of your body, and ensure your legs remain straight throughout the exercise.
  • Slowly raise your body with the support of your forearm by bending your elbow and aligning it under your shoulder. Lift your ribs so that your spine is absolutely straight and in a long line.
  • As you do this, extend your upper arm at your shoulder height, and inhale.
  • As you exhale, pull your body up through midline and press the magic circle down in a slow and controlled manner. This move will stabilise your back and abs, and your thighs, especially the inner thighs and glutes, to control the magic circle.
  • Inhale, and release the circle slowly.
  • Repeat the exercise at least ten times on each side.

Here’s a video for reference:


Benefits of side-lying leg press with magic circle in Pilates

The side-lying exercise largely targets length and uses the powerhouse core muscles, which include your lower back muscles, abdominal muscles, glutes, pelvic floors and muscles around your hips. Powerhouse core muscles stabilise the trunk as your lower body performs independently.

This workout also helps strengthen your adductor muscles that are responsible for keeping your legs together. Flexible and strong adductor muscles are very important for all types of athletic performances and also help reduce the risk of knee pain and injuries.

Common mistakes to avoid when practicing this exercise

To get the most out of the side-lying leg press exercise, make sure to avoid these common mistakes:

  • When performing the move, do not bend your rib cage. Lift it away from the mat, and make sure it doesn’t sag down.
  • This exercise requires you to lengthen your body from the centre by stretching your body as far as you can. However, make sure not to overextend your body.
  • Don’t let your shoulders push up towards your ears. Keep your shoulder blades down in a relaxed position.

Variations to try

The side-lying leg press with magic circle in Pilates has different variations that you can try and make the exercise even more effective and comfortable. Here’re a few variations to try:

1) You can perform the move with your bottom arm extended on the mat and head down rather than using it to support your upper body.

2) You can also put your top hand on the yoga mat extended right in front of you for extra balance rather than extending it up.

3) You may also initiate a lift from your lower leg, as that will help keep the Pilates magic circle in place.

4) You can do this exercise by using different rotations in your top leg. By lifting your legs to varying degrees of rotation, your inner thighs will get even more worked up, which can improve your balance.

Important tips for this variation:

  • When lifting your legs, keep stretching through your midline, and lift both the legs together off the mat.
  • As you exhale, press both the sides of the ring towards each other, and keep your legs raised.
  • Inhale and release, but keep your legs raised up.
  • Lower the legs, and switch sides.
  • Complete at least eight to ten presses.


The side-lying leg press with magic circle in Pilates should not be performed by pregnant women, as doing so could result in pubic bone pain.

Moreover, if you have any injury or pain in your shoulders or neck, make sure to practice this exercise by keeping your bottom arm extended and head down. If you feel any pain or pressure during this exercise, stop doing it immediately.


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