A classic move, the pretzel is a foundation exercise for toning the derriere. Barre and Pilates utilize the move to lift up the backside and also to shape the surrounding areas like the lower back. It's a highly effective tool when set up correctly, so let's go over the basics.
- Start with one leg in front and one leg back. Place your front shin in line with the mat, and check that your knee is directly in front of your hip, resulting in a 90-degree angle. Your back knee should be behind the edge of the mat at a 45-degree angle.
- Place your hands on the floor in front of you; one hand should lay flat in front of the ankle while the opposite hand frames the outside of the knee.
- Shift your weight to the center, and keep your shoulders and hips square. You want your chest to stay in the same line as your front thigh.
- Once you feel stable, lift your back leg up as high as you can while keeping your core and glutes engaged. Pulse your leg up as a whole, leading it with the knee for about 15-20 reps. Then lower your leg back to the starting position. For added challenge, keep your leg suspended and wrap your knee toward the opposite side for 15-20 more reps. Combining both movements will increase the burn! Hands are optional. Repeat on the other side.
Now that you have the move down, learn why the pretzel is key to feeling comfortable in your spandex after the break!Once you lift your back leg in this pretzel position, you are using every muscle, from the side of your lower back to that frustrating muffin top to your glutes and underneath those sit bones (where the edge of your seat hits the chair). By squaring off your body to the front leg, you are making those muscles wrap around your entire back and seat to assist in supporting each other. It is similar to what your body does in a plank position, contracting all of your muscles so that they act as one. The reason for this position's success is its ability to incorporate the surrounding muscle groups so that you lose inches off your whole pant size, not just the pockets.