Because your pelvis is fixed in this exercise, it targets your hip flexors. This is useful for training the first part of a straight leg inversion when you lift your legs from *under* your torso to hip height. (Once they are at hip height, posterior tilt of the pelvis via lower core engagement can help bring them even higher for a pike/compression inversion, which I think is a really really useful fundamental skill to train.) More on that later–I am working on an on-demand workshop on this topic so be sure to get on my newsletter (see sidebar).
In addition to targeting hip flexors, this exercise also targets the quads, which keep the knee straight. If the quads are weak or not engaging, the knee will bend as you lift your leg. It is much easier to lift a bent leg than a straight leg!
It targets the calves as well if you point your toes, which I recommend doing!
1. Sit at about 80% of your full straddle. Find slight external rotation at the hip (if you don’t already naturally have it in straddle–I do not) and evert your feet (turn them slightly outward).
2. Place your hands on either side of one thigh, or more difficult–knee. Lean forward slightly.
3. Engage your hip flexors to lift your leg. If you’re not sure you’re engaging them, place one hand at the uppermost section of your thigh, right below your pelvis. Keep your quads and calf engaged to maintain straight knee and pointed toe.
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- For the piked version, place hands by knees. Legs squeeze together and lift simultaneously (or one at a time if simul is too difficult). Hellooo compression!
- Hamstring flexibility can limit these. If your knees can’t straighten, it would be better to work on hamstring flexibility first.
- The leg that you like forward in your splits will probably have an easier time with these.
If you’re looking for full workouts you can do at home, Fit4Flight is a series of 5 aerial-specific floor workouts that don’t require any special equipment. Learn more about that here!