Strengthening your core is one of the best things you can do for your overall fitness and to adhere to the same, there are tons of Pilates exercises that you can add to your workout routine to achieve the right fitness. Pilates which has a huge market in the western world is also marking its presence in the Indian subcontinent area which resulted from an influx of Pilates studios opening majorly in the metros and tier-1 Indian cities.

What is Pilates

Introduced in the early 20th century, Pilates has now emerged as a well-known fitness workout across the world. Joseph Pilates, who founded this fitness regime designed this fitness system with the intent of strengthening the mind and body. Owing to its innumerable benefits, people from across the world have started loving Pilates as a low-impact exercise that aims to restore the human body’s natural alignment, flexibility, and muscle strengthening.

Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that targets strengthening muscles while improving your postural alignment and flexibility. The moves underneath the fitness regime tend to target your core strength besides targeting your other parts of the body. Pilates can be done with or without fitness equipment but the major thing to focus on is to make it precise and correct movement with balanced breathing in and out.

Benefits of Pilates Exercises

  • Increases Core Strength – Pilates is famously known for its emphasis on the core the centre of the body from which all movement stems. The core is all of the surrounding muscles of the trunk that when strengthened and pliable, support and stabilize the body.
  • Improves Posture – Improved posture is the difference between weak, imbalanced muscles, headaches, shoulder or back pain, and sitting or standing tall with ease. Pilates focuses on the full body’s alignment, the ideal range of motion at the joints, and a balance of all opposing muscles. It improves posture by bringing awareness to your alignment and strengthening neglected postural muscles.
  • Prevents Injuries – Pilates balances the muscles of the body so that they are neither loose and weak nor tight and rigid. Muscles that are too loose and weak or too tight and rigid can make the body more susceptible to injury. Pilates focuses on developing dynamic strength, which means you are better able to support and stabilize your joints while moving. Research has suggested that Pilates is an effective method for reducing injury risk in sports.
  • Improves Respiratory Capacity – By focusing on the breath, Pilates improves cardiorespiratory capacity. This stimulates feel-good hormones, oxygen flow, and blood circulation. Pilates achieves all of this and, due to its low-impact nature, it rarely leaves you feeling fatigued. Instead, it gives you a boost of energy.
  • Enhances Flexibility and Mobility – Flexibility is the amount of passive stretch in a muscle. Mobility is the range of motion at a joint. Good mobility requires flexibility but also strength. Mobility is something you should strive for, while flexibility in and of itself isn’t functional. You need a balance of strength and flexibility to optimize mobility. A Pilates practice keeps moving with smooth transitions between precise and slow, controlled movements. Instead of stretching after a strengthening exercise, most Pilates exercises are a combination of the two, which improves strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Forms of Pilates Workouts

  • Classic Pilates – The traditional Pilates exercises as devised by Joseph Pilates, performed in the same sequence each time.
  • Mat Pilates – 34 mat-based exercises by Joseph Pilates, plus other mat exercises.
  • Contemporary Pilates – A mix of traditional and new Pilates exercises, performed in varying sequences using a range of small pieces of equipment.
  • Reformer Pilates – A dynamic form of Pilates using a ‘Reformer’ to add resistance and challenge stability.
  • Clinical Pilates – Injury and rehabilitation-specific exercises, prescribed by physiotherapists.

Top 10 Pilates Workouts to Pump Up Your Fitness

1.) Crisscross

Crisscross is one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. Lie on the floor with legs raised, knees bent 90 degrees and shins parallel to the floor. Hold a yoga block at your chest with both hands, elbows flared, to start. Inhale, then exhale and extend your right leg while you lift your right shoulder and rotate toward your left knee. Inhale to return to starting position, then repeat on the right side for 1 rep.

2.) Hundred

Hundred is one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. Lie on the floor with legs raised, knees bent 90 degrees, shins parallel to the floor, a resistance band behind arches of feet and holding other ends, arms along the torso. Exhale, lift shoulders off the floor, press rib cage into the mat, and extend legs to start. Inhale for 5 pulses, while performing small beats with arms, initiating from shoulders. Continue with an exhale for 5 pulses. Repeat for 10 reps or 100 pulses.

3.) The Roll-Up

Roll-up is one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. The roll-up stretches your back and legs while challenging your abdominal muscles. Start the roll-up on your back with your legs and arms extended away from your body. Exhale as you bring your arms toward the ceiling and begin to curl your head, shoulders and back off the mat, one vertebra at a time. Keep your eyes focused on your navel and do not let your heels pop off the floor. As you exhale, slowly lower each part of your back to the mat to return to your beginning position.

4.) Single Leg Circles

Single Leg Circles are one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. Single leg circles stretch your hips and hamstrings while strengthening your quadriceps and core. Begin on your back with your legs extended long on the mat. Lift one leg straight up to the ceiling, keeping your arms long by your sides and your navel drawn as close to your spine as possible. Draw small circles with your leg keeping your toes pointed and your torso still. Bring your leg down and repeat with your other leg.

5.) Rolling Like a Ball

Rolling Like a Ball is one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. This exercise challenges your balance while exercising your abdominal muscles and massaging your spine. Start in a seated position with your knees bent toward your chest and your feet hovering off the floor. Roll back onto your spine with control as you inhale. Exhale while rolling back to a seated position.

6.) Single Leg Stretch

Single Leg Stretch is one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. This exercise helps to strengthen your core and improve your endurance. Begin this exercise on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your head curled off the floor. Straighten one leg away from your body as you hold the shin of your opposite leg and breathe in. Switch your legs as you inhale again. Repeat this switching motion, this time exhaling on each switch. Make this exercise more challenging by lowering your extended leg a few inches.

7.) Spine Stretch Forward

Spine Stretch Forward is one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. This exercise relieves tightness in the shoulders, back and hamstrings. Sit with your back tall and your legs open slightly wider than your shoulders. Exhale and reach your arms in front of your body as you curl your back forward one vertebra at a time. Draw your belly button toward your spine as you stretch. Inhale as you reach the deepest point of your stretch and exhale as you return to your starting position.

8.) Single Leg Kick

Single Leg Kick is one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. This exercise stretches your hips and quadriceps while strengthening your hamstrings, lower back and upper body. Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your elbows. Draw your navel toward your spine so your hip bones and belly come off the floor. Bend one leg toward your bottom with two quick pulses, then return your leg to the floor. Repeat with your other leg.

9.) Side Kicks

Side Kicks are one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. This exercise sculpts your legs and obliques. Lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of one another, using your hand to support your head. Kick your top leg forward with a pointed foot, then slowly return to your beginning position. Focus on engaging your abdominal muscles and keeping your torso still as you kick your leg forward. Repeat on the other side.

10.) Side Kick Circles

Side Kick Circles are one of the best Pilates exercises that you can perform. Sidekick circles offer an even greater core challenge while shaping and strengthening the gluteus maximus. Lie on your side with your head propped up on your hands. Lift your top leg so that it’s in line with your hip. Draw small circles with your leg, focusing on keeping your upper body stable. Repeat on the other side.

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.

Author

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