How to Do Standing Leg Press With Ring in Pilates

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Targets: Inner thighs (adductors)

Equipment Needed: Pilates ring (magic circle)

Level: Beginner

The standing leg press with the Pilates ring is an inner thigh exercise and much more. When you perform this standing Pilates exercise with good posture it will work your whole leg. In addition, you will challenge the pelvic floor, the core stability muscles, abdominals, and back muscles. This exercise can be done by beginners. You will need a Pilates ring (traditionally called a magic circle). There are different options and it's good to know before you buy.


This exercise especially works the adductor muscles which draw your legs together. The inner thigh muscles don't get much of a challenge during normal daily activity, so doing dedicated exercises for them can ensure that they are in balance with the rest of the lower body and core. Strength and flexibility of these muscles can help your performance in sports such as tennis that require side-to-side movements. Strong and flexible adductors can also help reduce the risk of knee pain and back pain. You will also challenge your core stability and balance, which will help you throughout your daily life.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Set the Pilates ring aside and just stand for a moment with good posture. Your feet and legs are parallel and legs hip distance apart. Your legs are straight but the knees are not locked. Balance your weight over your feet. Make sure that your sit bones are pointing straight down so that if you picture your pelvis as a bowl of water, it won't spill front or back. Pull up and in with your abdominal muscles, lengthen your spine, and send the top of your head toward the sky. Relax your shoulders and your neck.

  1. Place the padded sides of the Pilates ring just above your ankle bones. Adjust your leg position to the width of the ring. Resume standing with excellent posture. Notice the engagement of the abs and inner leg that you can activate just from this position.
  2. Pull up through your middle and engage your inner thighs, drawing them in toward the midline of your body as you shift your weight onto one foot. Find your balance. As you practice you will gain strength and balance, but you can stretch your arms out to the sides (shoulders down) or lightly touch a wall or a piece of furniture to aid your balance.
  3. Squeeze the ring in and release slowly three times. Ensure that you are using control.
  4. With control, return to standing on both feet. Establish your posture, then shift to the other foot. Repeat the press three times on that leg.
  5. Do two more sets.

Common Mistakes

To get the most from this exercise, avoid these errors.

Leaning Forward

Stand up straight. If you lean forward it throws the energy into the front of the leg and you miss the engagement of the glutes (think butt toning) and core-stabilizing abdominal and back muscles.

Not Engaging Abs

As with most Pilates exercises, you engage your abs to lengthen your spine. This will stabilize you during the exercise and train the core.

Modifications and Variations

You can do this exercise in different ways to match your abilities and skill level.

Need a Modification?

Pay your attention to your sit bones. Think of pulling them together. That will help you balanced, engage the pelvic floor, and work your glutes in a butt-shaping way.

Side-lying leg press with magic circle is similar to the standing exercise but poses less of a standing balance challenge. Seated legs with the magic circle is another great inner thigh exercise, targeting what is a problem area for many.

Up for a Challenge?

You can do an inner thigh squat and squeeze, starting in squat position with your hips a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Place the ring between your thighs, above your knees. Rise up to standing while squeezing the ring as you come up. Lower back to a squat and repeat.

Safety and Precautions

This exercise should be avoided during pregnancy as it could lead to pubic bone pain as hormones relax the pubic symphysis. If you have difficulty standing, try the side-lying version. If you feel any pain during this exercise, release it and end the exercise.

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.