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Ascending Rep Pilates Butt and Thigh Workout for Glute Activation - Mat Pilates Flow

50 Min • Lower Body
  • View on YouTube
    • Training Type Low Impact, Pilates, Toning
    • Equipment Exercise Band, Mat, No Equipment
    • Membership Free


    This workout has been one of my go-to favorite routines over the past couple of years, and it always makes me feel great. It’s a low impact workout that ironically packs a real punch when it comes to the glute and thigh muscles. 

    We’ll be doing ascending repetitions of Pilates-inspired exercises, but the fun and wildly adaptive part is that each move can easily cross over into the realm of strength training — especially if you add resistance bands, ankle weights, or dumbbells. This can be a beginner workout, but it can also be an advanced workout; the difficulty comes down to your own focus on muscle engagement, whether or not you add extra resistance, and which variation of each exercise you choose to do. 

    As much as we love HIIT and strength training, our bodies sometimes need a rest from heavily strenuous moves, a chance to heal from intense workouts. It’s not that jumping or impact is bad. In fact, strategic physical stress is part of what signals our bones to become stronger and more dense in order to be able to withstand the impact. It’s all in finding a balance, and challenging muscles in a well-rounded variety of ways, so that we don’t overtax our bodily systems or cause strain that we don’t allow ourselves to properly recover from. That’s where diversity in training types becomes a major benefit to a routine.

    Not only does this butt and thigh workout offer a different way to work the lower body, it also engages the muscles in ways that aren’t always easy to target or isolate with more traditional strength training. In fact, these are often the recommended exercises for glute activation; if you have trouble "feeling it" in the right places during squats, exercises like this may help you better recruit those muscles. You will likely notice this for yourself during exercises like the clamshell or hip abduction, side lying circles, or bridge + butterfly. These exercises are also great for building stability in the hip and knee joint. 

    Remember to stay tuned in and focus on really doing each movement with intent. This workout can feel like a total walk in the park if you just breeze through the motions. It could also be challenging for a very fit person, with the proper focus on muscle engagement, and slow, controlled, deliberate movements. Your focus makes all the difference in the world!

    The pace is relatively quick moving, so it might pay off to take a second to become familiar with the layout of the workout before jumping in. The idea is to flow from one round to the next, gradually warming up your muscles with the exact exercises you’ll eventually be doing in higher repetition. We start off with 5 reps each, then repeat another round with 8 repetitions, then we hit the same muscles again with 12 repetitions, before going directly into a cool down and stretch. By the time you reach the last round, your lower body muscles really should be talking to you.

    Workout Structure
    Pilates Flow with ascending reps; 5, 8 and then 12 reps through for each exercise
    No equipment (add resistance band, ankle weights, or dumbbells to increase difficulty)
    Warm Up and Cool Down included

    Printable Pilates Workout
    Laying on right side of body:
    - Side Leg Lift + Reach
    - Side Leg Lift Back
    - Clam Shell
    - Side Lying Circles (Forward / Back)

    Laying on Left side of body:
    - Side Leg Lift + Reach
    - Side Leg Lift Back
    - Clam Shell
    - Side Lying Circles (Forward / Back)

    On Back:
    - Bridge
    - Bridge + Butterfly
    - Reclined Leg Raise (Left)
    - Reclined Leg Raise (Right)

    On Stomach:
    - Prone Leg Raise (Right)
    - Prone Leg Raise (Left)
    - Kneeling Leg Raise (Right)
    - Kneeling Leg Raise (Left)

    Cool Down:
    Cat to Cow
    Side to Side
    Deep Glute L
    Deep Glute R
    Single Leg Hug
    Side Twist
    Runner Calf Stretch
    Child’s Pose
    Shell stretch

    This routine has been a lifesaver for me, and I love it! Let me know how you used it. Did you add extra resistance for more challenge? Did you like the flow style of this routine? What exercise did you find the most difficult? Were you sore the next day? As always, thank you for working out with me!