How to Do Leg Pull Front in Pilates

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Targets: Calves, abs, shoulders

Equipment needed: Mat

Level: Beginner

Like plank/front support, leg pull front is a core strength builder that engages every part of the body. Leg pull front takes plank/front support a step further. By lifting one leg off the floor, you introduce instability that challenges the abdominals and shoulders to keep the trunk and pelvis stable as you move. This is the opposite of the leg pull back.


While the leg pull front exercise engages many muscles, you will first feel it in the calves. But this exercise also strengthens the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, groin, abdominals, shoulders, and arms. In addition, it helps improve stability in the shoulders and trunk.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin leg pull front in the plank position: Start on your knees. Place your hands on the floor in front of you, fingers pointing straight ahead. Keep your arms straight and your elbows unlocked.

Engage your abdominals and lengthen your spine, extending through the top of the head as you lean forward to put your weight on your hands. Your shoulders should be directly over your wrists and settled in your back. That means there is a lot of space between your shoulders and your ears.

With your abdominals lifted, extend your legs back so that they are straight and together. Your toes are curled under so that some weight is on the balls of your feet. Your ears, shoulders, hips, and heels should be in one long line. Now you are ready to begin.

  1. Extend one leg from the hip so that your foot lifts off the mat a few inches. Your foot can point softly as it is released from the mat. As you extend your leg, your hip will lift slightly, but the challenge is to keep the rest of your body stable in plank position. This requires extra work from your abdominals, shoulders, and back.
  2. Return your foot to the mat and extend the other leg.
  3. Repeat the lift five to seven times on each side.

Common Mistakes

It is important to initiate this move with your powerhouse and through the hip, not just from the back of the leg. Try not to get tense; use only as much energy as you need to keep perfect form. Focusing on length will help a lot. Think of leg pull front as an oppositional stretch where energy is moving in opposite directions, through your heels and out the top of your head. Watch out for these problems with your alignment:

Sagging Lower Back

Keep your abs pulled up and your shoulders pulled back so that your lower back doesn't sag. Lifting your leg too high can also cause this sagging.

Not Using Your Legs

You will find that keeping your legs and butt engaged and pulling in toward the center will take some of the pressure off of the upper body, creating a more balanced exercise.

Modifications and Variations

To get the most out of this exercise, make it work for you by adapting it as needed.

Need a Modification?

If holding the plank position is too challenging, stay on your hands and knees and lift one leg up (level to the hip) at a time. Next, try lifting the knees just slightly off the ground as you extend alternating legs.

If you experience wrist pain, work on your elbows with palms flat on the ground. Or place your hands on a higher surface, like a step.

Up for a Challenge?

Place your hands on a foam roller when you are in your plank position. This makes it even more difficult to keep your shoulder and torso stable.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this exercise in the second and third trimester of pregnancy (since it could put pressure on your abdomen). If you have any injuries or pain in your wrists, shoulders, or low back, use caution. Either modify the exercise, or avoid it until you can discuss it with a physical therapist or doctor.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

By Marguerite Ogle MS, RYT
Marguerite Ogle is a freelance writer and experienced natural wellness and life coach, who has been teaching Pilates for more than 35 years.