4 Pilates Exercises That Focus on Your Thighs

Looking for ways to strengthen your thighs? Pilates is a fantastic workout that lengthens and tones the entire body. It’s low-impact, alignment focused methods offer effective and safe movements that feel both accessible and challenging. While you may have heard about Pilates’ reputation for great core work, it also strengthens and sculpts the legs!

Strengthening the lower body is so important because it supports us in all that we do on a daily basis. While the idea of lean, strong thighs sounds great, leg day can seem a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Try out these four all-levels friendly moves to fire up your thighs!

  1. 90 Degree Leg Lift

90 degree leg lifts are a great way to wake up your hamstrings and strengthen the back of the thighs. This beginner friendly move is efficient and fun! You’ll even improve balance and activate the core with this thigh and booty burner!

  • Start in a tabletop position with your hands stacked beneath your shoulders and your knees stacked under your hips. Draw your naval towards your spine and slide the shoulder blades down the back.
  • Flex one foot and begin to lift the leg behind you without letting the back arch and keep the tailbone lengthened. Repeat 15-20 times, lightly tapping the knee to the ground and lifting the leg back up. Then, switch sides!
  • Remember to keep your foot flexed and active as you press your heel towards the sky and hold the 90 degree shape strong.

  1. Bridge

Equipment free and easy to perform anywhere, bridge is the perfect thigh exercise to adapt to your own level of challenge. It’s a lower body staple that’s sure to fire up the thighs! As you get stronger you can even try single leg variations to mix up your routine.

  • Begin lying on the floor with the knees bent, arms down by your sides, and feet grounded just hip-width distance apart.
  • Press your heels into the floor as you lift your hips towards the sky, then return your hips gently back down to the ground. Repeat 15-20 times.
  • Try to keep the knees still and stacked over the ankles as you go and focus on driving the heels into the floor.

  1. Lunge

You’ll wake up your whole lower body with this move! Lunges are a popular, challenging thigh exercise that you might see in a Pilates Reformer or mat class. You can try this powerful movement with or without any equipment using the tips below!

  • Start with your feet parallel and hip-width distance. Step one foot back keeping the back heel lifted and bend into both knees until they are around a 90 degree bend in each leg.
  • Push down through the front heel to return to your starting standing position. Repeat to the other side. Perform around 15-20 on each side.
  • Remember to keep the shoulders over the hips during your lunge and take your time for the first few as you find your balance and a comfortable distance between the front foot and back foot.

  1. Plank with Leg Extension

Planks engage the entire body but this variation shifts extra attention to the legs. By lifting one leg you’ll not only challenge the hamstring but also add intensity for the grounded leg!

  • Start in a forearm plank with the naval towards the spine and the tailbone slightly tucked.
  • Float one leg off the floor keeping it as straight as possible. Hold for 5-10 seconds and switch sides, repeating as many times as you’d like! You can also add an upward pulse of the leg to dial up the intensity.
  • Try to avoid dropping the hips or arching the back by keeping the naval drawn upward, pressing the forearms into the floor, and engaging the standing thigh.

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