Tone up and trim down with these popular Pilates moves.
Named after its founder, Joseph Pilates, Pilates exercises are known to build core strength, improve posture, increase flexibility, promote endurance, and heal and prevent back pain. While the word Pilates may sound intimidating, don’t let it scare you off. The exercises can be adapted to any fitness level, from beginner to advanced. All you need is a mat and comfortable clothes to move around in. Some people like doing the movements in front of a mirror to ensure proper form.
Here are a few of the more popular Pilates moves to get you started. As you do each exercise, make sure you breathe continually, inhaling through your nose and forcibly exhaling through your mouth.
It’s called the Hundreds because you’re supposed to do 10 sets of five breaths in and 10 sets of five breaths out during the exercise. To do this effective core exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent. Lift both legs up until your shins are parallel to the floor (tabletop position). Raise both arms straight up with palms facing forward. Then lift your head and curl your shoulders off the floor as you lower your arms to the floor. Quickly raise and lower your arms while breathing in and out five times. Perform for 10 reps.
Again, lie on your back with your arms by your sides and your knees bent. Lift your legs to tabletop position. Exhale as you lower your left leg down to tap your toe on the floor. Inhale as you raise it back to 90 degrees with the floor. Now exhale and lower your right leg down to tap the floor. Inhale as you raise it back up. Do 10 taps on each leg.
Roll like a Ball
Work your abs while you massage your back with this exercise. Sit up straight, bend your knees, and point your toes. Hold onto the back of each thigh to keep your legs by your chest. Spread your legs enough to allow your head to be lowered in between your knees. Breath deeply while you find your balance, then rock back until your shoulders reach the floor and rock back up. Find your balance, then rock again. Do five reps.
A fourth Pilates exercise to add to your workout is the single-leg circle. Lie on your back with both legs extended straight. Slowly lift your right leg up toward the ceiling, point your toes, and make five clockwise circles with your leg. Then do five counter-clockwise circles. Lower your right leg and repeat on your left leg.
Now turn over and lie on your stomach. Your legs should be hip-width apart, your forehead touching the mat, and your arms in a “w” shape with your elbows bent and hands out next to your shoulders. Move your arms until they’re straight in front of you, lift your head and chest off the mat, and circle your arms back behind you by your sides as if you were swimming the breaststroke. Lower your body and bring your arms back to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Leg Pull Front
Get on your hands and knees, palms directly beneath your shoulders. Move into a plank position so your legs are extended behind you and your body is in a straight line. Lift your right leg a few inches off the floor and lower it back down. Now lift your left leg a few inches and lower it back down, all the while keeping your hips stable and your body straight. Lift each leg five times.
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