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How to Do the Double Straight Leg Stretch in Pilates

Learn how to do the double straight leg stretch Pilates Mat ab exercise from Core Pilates NYC instructor Sarah Ruback in this Howcast workout video.


The fourth in a series of five, we're nearing the end. This is called Double Straight Leg Stretch. Or our slang term is Lower Lift because you'll lower the legs then lift them back up.

This exercise is sort of similar to marching in the warm-ups in that the legs will lower and lift. But now it's harder, more challenging because the legs will be straight rather than bent. That will target and fire up your lower abdominal's and be extremely challenging for that.

Okay, take your hands, one on top of the other. Right behind the back of your head and think of lengthening your head into your hands. Inhale to prepare then exhale. Curl up to your Pilates curl. Then extend both legs up towards the ceiling, again in Pilates stance.

From here, lower your legs to 45 degrees and lift them right back up. Inhale, lower down for three, two, one. Then exhale, lift. Lower down, two, three and lift. The rhythm is important. Slowly lower, hold and lift. One last time, Madeline. Inhale to lower, exhale to lift. Hold it. Bend your knees then lower down your head, neck and shoulders.

So if, again, you're tight in your legs or your lower back is tight, there is a modification for this. You can make a diamond shape with our hands and take it underneath the tailbone. This provides a little more support for the lower back. Lift up the head, neck and shoulders. And be sure to lift up the elbows then extend the legs towards the ceiling. Heels together, toes apart. Lower the legs down to 45 then exhale. Lift the legs up. And again. That's it.

Now, hold it here. If in your scissors your knees were bent they'll probably be bent here, perhaps? So you can soften the knees like a little diamond shape and lower both legs and lift.

So, remember, the leg work is secondary to the core work. This is about the lower abdominal's. So that's where you want to feel the focus.

One last time, Madeline. Exhale, lift, bend your knees back toward your chest. Hold on to the top of your shins then lower your head, neck and shoulders to the mat with control.

And that's our Double Straight Leg Stretch or Lower Lift.

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