Pilates Heel Beats Butt Exercise

A butt lifting, back and hamstring strengthening, Pilates exercise

Heel Beats
Ben Goldstein

Heel beats strengthen the back from the upper back down through the lower back and the hamstrings. It is also one of the best butt exercises you can do on the mat. In fact, it's on our list of the five best Pilates butt exercises.

Pilates heel beats are fairly easy. The main thing you have to remember is to keep your abdominal muscles pulled in and to go for length along your back and down the back of your legs so that you protect your lower back.

Exercise Difficulty: This is a beginner-level exercise, suitable for all levels.

Equipment Needed 

This is a no-equipment exercise, you need only an exercise mat to support and cushion your hips as you perform the exercise. You can do this exercise at home or at a Pilates studio or the gym.


  • Lie on your stomach with your forehead on your hands as seen in the photo.
  • Have your legs together, straight behind you.
  • Lift your abdominal muscles away from the mat. Feel your spine lengthen.
  • Turn your legs out very slightly at the hip. Heels together.
  • Keep your abs lifted and legs together as you send lengthening energy down the backs of your legs and through your heels. Let that energy lift your legs off the mat.
  • Your legs stay lifted as you quickly beat your heels together and apart.
  • Though the exercise is called heel beats, the emphasis is on working from the inner and back of the upper thigh.
  • Let your shoulders stay relaxed. This exercise has little to do with them!
  • Do 10 beats. Rest and repeat.

This is a good time to push back into a gentle back stretch like child's pose.

Muscles Worked

This is a great exercise for your butt, inner thigh, lower back, and hamstrings. The primary target is the gluteus maximus muscle. This is the muscle that gives the most definition to your butt, and it is a prime target for getting into a firm shape. The hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh also get involved in this move. You are also using the inner thigh adductor muscles, which don't get much of a workout in daily activity. Firming and toning the inner thigh can give you more confidence when wearing shorts or fitted trousers. By keeping your abdominals engaged throughout the movement you are challenging them. The beats also help you develop coordination.

More Mat Exercises for the Butt and Inner Thigh

  • Pelvic Curl: This exercise is a good easy warm-up. It is also known as a half bridge.
  • Pilates Bicycle: This is an exercise of Intermediate difficulty for the legs and butt - no bicycle required!
  • Pilates Swimming: This dry land mat swim is fun and dynamic, you don't have to get wet!
  • Double Leg Kick: This is an Intermediate difficulty extension exercise.
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