How to Do the Tabletop Leg Position in Pilates

The Pilates tabletop legs position.
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Tabletop legs are the starting position for various Pilates exercises. This position can also be used as a modification for many Pilates exercises, by keeping the legs in tabletop position.

In the tabletop legs position, the knees are bent so that the thighs are perpendicular to the floor and the shins are parallel to the floor. The legs should squeeze gently together so that the inner thighs are engaged. It is called tabletop because your lower legs are forming the flat, level top of a table while your thighs are forming the straight, perpendicular legs of a table, connecting you to the ground.

The tabletop position is an exercise all of its own. It challenges the transverse abdominus muscle.

When you see tabletop in instructions for a Pilates exercise or your instructor tells you to go into tabletop, this is the position they are specifying.

Alternative Spelling and Synonyms 

  • Tabletop legs
  • Table-top legs
  • Tabletop position
  • Table-top position
  • Tabletop position

Examples and Uses 

  • Pilates Hundred: This classic exercise can be performed either with the legs at a 45-degree angle or the legs in tabletop position.
  • Criss Cross: This move starts in neutral spine position and moves to tabletop to perform the exercise.
  • Pilates Crunch
  • Toe Taps
  • Lower Back Stretch

Other Tabletop Positions and Exercises

Besides the use of the term for a Pilates position, there are other exercises and moves that use the word tabletop.

Tabletop Prop: Lying on your back and placing your feet on a chair, box, or exercise ball at a 90-degree angle. This is a modification that can be used with Pilates exercises.

Reverse Table Top/Table Top Yoga Pose: This is a yoga position where you are facing upward, lifted off the floor by your hands and feet. It is also known as the Crab pose and as Half Reverse Plank. In this case, your stomach and chest form the tabletop. And to confuse matters, the Table pose (Bharmanasana) is sometimes called Table Top, but it is the opposite, kneeling facing down, arms extended and thighs perpendicular to the floor, your back is now a table top.

Tabletop Exercise: Getting into and out of tabletop position is its own exercise. You start lying on your back; knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Now raise one leg to tabletop position, followed by the other leg. Hold the position for over 10 seconds, then lower your legs one at a time back to the floor. This can be repeated several times. For more challenge, you could lie with a foam roller the length of your spine. This would add instability to the tabletop exercise.

Tabletop Dip: This is a dip performed while gripping a table or bench behind you, bending your knees to 90 degrees to raise your feet from the floor and lowering yourself with your arms until your elbows are in the 90-degree position. It works multiple muscles in the arms, shoulders, hips, and thighs.

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