Get Lean & Strong with Pilates

Pilates exercises develop lean, strong muscles and a strong core. A strong abdomen, hips and lower back area result in better posture and overall improvement in balance. The goal of a Pilates workout is to increase endurance, strength and flexibility. This method of exercise requires concentration, breathing control and stretching. Try a few easy mat exercises as an introduction to Pilates.
Photo Credit: J. Vílchez, Public Domain
Stretch your spine and strengthen your lower back by doing the Pilates spine stretch exercise. Sit on your bottom and press your hip bones against the floor. Stretch your legs straight out and point your toes toward the ceiling. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed while extending your spine, so that your head is lifting toward the ceiling. Breathe in deeply, stretch your arms out toward your toes and drop your chin toward your chest. Your body should form a “C” shape. Keep your arms at the same height as your shoulders. Exhale when you reach the full extension of the stretch. Breathe in and use your ab muscles to pull your body back to an upright position. 
Try the spine twist next since you are in the sitting position. Tighten your abdominal muscles and point your toes toward the ceiling. Stretch your arms out to your sides, keeping them even with your shoulders and with your palms down. Stretch your spine upward until you are sitting as tall as possible. Breathe in deeply and twist your body from your waist. Exhale halfway through the twist, and then continue to twist your upper body, then finish your exhale. Inhale on the return and then repeat by twisting in the other direction. Keep your buttocks firmly on the floor and your lower body as straight as possible. 

The side plank position is an excellent exercise to strengthen the abdominal muscles, arms and legs. From a sitting position, stretch your legs out to one side of your body so that your right hand is on the floor and your left arm is resting on your thigh. Put the top foot in front of the lower foot on the floor. Place the hand on the floor under your shoulder. Spread your fingers a bit for support and stability. Breathe in deeply, tighten your abdominal muscles and press your body upward with your right arm. Extend your left arm toward the ceiling. Support the weight of your body with your abdominal muscles and your shoulder. The front of your body should be perpendicular to the floor. Squeeze your legs together and keep your abs tight for stability. Hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds, breathe out and relax back to the floor. Repeat this exercise on the other side. 
For more information about Pilates exercises, see:

WebMD, Pilates and Yoga: Are They Good Exercise?, by Jodi Helmer, reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD. 2011

WebMD, The Benefits of Pilates, by Barbara Russi Sarnataro, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD. 2009

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About Robin R.
I’m an AFPA certified personal trainer & nutrition consultant, NASM certified corrective exercise specialist, NASM certified youth exercise specialist, online fitness coach and freelance writer specializing in health and fitness. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health. I specialize in weight loss, functional strength training, total body toning, aerobic conditioning, plyometric training, nutrition planning, and home-based boot camp style workouts for women. My goal is to make every personal training session fun and effective for my clients. My services include both in-home personal training and online fitness coaching.

2 Responses to Get Lean & Strong with Pilates

  1. Robin – Thanks for sharing, one of the most important things we all can do is to dedicate time daily to our fitness.

  2. Robin R. says:

    Thanks, Robert. I appreciate the comment.

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