The heel beats or prone heel beats are Pilates moves that mainly target your hamstrings and glutes. They also help tone and slim down your legs and strengthen and sculpt your posterior chain muscles. Moreover, they also help lengthen your hamstrings and prevent injuries and strains in your back, hips and legs.
Heel beats are considered one of the most effective butt exercises in Pilates and are quite easy to perform on the mat. However, the only thing you need to remember when doing this exercise is to keep your abdomen pulled in and go for length along the back of your legs and spine to protect your lower back from excess tension. This exercise can be done at a Pilates studio or in the comfort of your own home.
How to do heel beats in Pilates? Correct form
When doing heel beats in Pilates, it’s important to perform every move correctly to target the right muscles.
Here are the step-by-step instructions for doing heel beats:
- Start by lying down on a mat on your stomach. Keep your forehead on your hands, and keep your legs together just straight behind you.
- Slowly lift your abdomen away from the mat, and stretch your spine.
- Take your legs to your hip, and keep your feet together.
- Lift both your legs off the mat. Keep your abs lifted and legs together as you pass energy down to the back of your legs through your heels.
- As both your legs stay lifted, beat your heels together and then apart quickly.
- Complete ten beats and repeat.
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Though this move is called heel beats, you need to focus more on working from the back of your upper thighs and not your heels. Also, remember to do a gentle back stretch after completing repetitions of heel beats.
A simple modification
If you suffer from hip or back pain, you may do this exercise without raising your legs from the mat. However, use the same form, scoop your abs, push your buttocks, and slide both the legs together and apart. Do the exercise slowly, and aim for fewer repetitions.
What muscles do heel beats in Pilates work?
This move mainly works on your hamstrings and gluteus maximus.
Correct breathing pattern and form:
When doing heel beats in Pilates, make sure to:
- Squeeze your glutes.
- Brace your abs, and pull them towards your spine to protect your lower back from pain.
- Keep both your legs straight. Lift your legs and thighs off the floor slowly
- Sharply point your toes.
- Keep your neck, spine and head neutral.
- Engage your hamstrings and glutes to keep each movement controlled.
- Breathe slowly, and do several repetitions.
Also ensure you do not elevate or tense your shoulders; keep them relaxed and in a stable position throughout the exercise. Keep your abs engaged at all times, and keep your spine lengthened and in a neutral position.
The benefits of heel beats in Pilates
The heel beats are an excellent exercise to strengthen your inner thigh, butt, hamstring and lower back.
This move primarily targets your gluteus maximus muscles, which is the main muscle that gives definition to your buttocks. Moreover, your hamstring muscles at the back of your thigh also get targeted by this exercise.
Toning and strengthening your adductor muscles can give your inner thigh a more sculpted look and enhance your confidence when wearing fitted trousers. Moreover, by engaging your abs throughout the exercise, your abdominal muscles also get the entire workout, making them strong and toned. This exercise also helps you build more coordination and balance.
Some safety and precautions to keep in mind:
If you have any type of back or hip injury, you should exercise caution or completely avoid heel beats, as they could the aggravate the injury.
Immediately stop the exercise if you feel pain or sharp strain in your hips or lower back. Moreover, if you are pregnant, avoid this exercise during your first trimester. It’s always best to talk to your doctor and seek guidance on whether this exercise is safe for you or not.