Strengthening your core muscles with Pilates

People often complain that gaining a couple of extra pounds never seem to be too difficult, but having to shed them always seems like a herculean task. In your quest to shed weight, if you wish to embark on a journey towards not just physical strength and fitness, but also a complete spirit, mind and body coordination, try a session of Pilates.

Pilates is not just about losing weight, having flat abs, long and lean muscles, but more so about a uniform development of the body, a balanced mind that is capable of easily and satisfactorily carrying out tasks with spontaneity, pleasure and  zest.

The basic focus in Pilates is how to use both your mind and your body to attain optimum performance.  It deep stabilizes the muscles in the body, strengthening and conditioning them as you go through a sequence of set movements which use your body weight and gravity as a form of resistance.  Attaining a connection of the body with the mind is very crucial in Pilates as it teaches your mind how to maintain constant awareness of the ways in which your body moves.  The result is more control of body movements and superior technique.

If you are looking for ways to strengthen your core muscles and gain flexibility, Pilates can be very beneficial.  Here are some simple Pilates mat exercises that are great for your posture and can be done at home easily.

The Hundred-

It helps build core strength, coordination and stamina as it fully engages your abdominal muscles while you practice the dynamic breath pattern.

The Roll Up-

This exercise will greatly challenge your abdominal muscles as it is a brilliant articulation for your spine. Belief is that a single Roll Up if well executed equals six sit ups. It is a very good relaxing exercise, also great for your flexibility.

Single Leg Circles-

This exercise challenges the core stability because you must keep your hips glued to the mat as you circle the leg independently, staying within the frame of the body.

Rolling Like a Ball-

It is the 1st rolling exercise in Pilates and stimulates your spine, deeply working the abdominal, and tuning you with your breath and inner flow of movements. If you have a neck or back problem, do not do the rolling exercise.

The Single Leg Stretch-

This exercise in Pilates targets your lower abs and the same time works on your entire core. You require both stamina and strength to maintain the curve in your upper body and keep your torso stable as you switch your legs and your arm positions.

The Double Leg Stretch

Double leg stretch offers you greater endurance and abdominal strength. You work with the centre of your body as you stretch your arms and legs and use your power house to motivate the body coming back.

Single Straight Leg-

This is a great exercise to engage the powerhouse and gain flexibility in your hamstrings as you switch your legs in the air like scissors and tug them gently towards yourself twice each time. It teaches you to move from your centre and trains your abdominal muscles to initiate the movements, supporting and stabilizing the trunk.

Double Straight Leg-

It is a fantastic abs workout as it radiates literally from your core powerhouse and demands both endurance and strength from your abdominals.  You inhale keeping the abdominal pulled in with your back glued to the mat as you lengthen the legs straight up and slowly lower them. Exhale as you bring the legs up and find control by deepening the abs. Keep your elbows open and rib-cage in and use the powerhouse to give you strength and control.

Criss Cross-

This exercise focuses on your abdominals and lays special emphasis to obliques. Obliques help you in stabilising your posture to a great degree, so it is great for your spine, your back and also defining your waistline.

 Spine Stretch Forward-

It is a flexion exercise that is done with your abs lifted, but the emphasis is on stretching your spine. It also stretches your hamstrings and allows you a moment for centering yourself before you move to a more challenging exercise.

The Saw-

This exercise was designed to wring air out of the lungs as you twist from your waist and take your little finger towards the little toe, rounding the back. Breathe out as you reach out and breathe out again as you push further, working your waistline.  This makes for a very intricate hamstring and back stretch. If you have you a delicate shoulder, keep your shoulders down as that takes off some pressure.

Side Kick Series-

This series is great to tone up and firm the buttocks, inner thighs and outer thighs. Wonderful for strengthening and toning, these exercises emphasize length as you use your powerhouse and core muscles for stabilizing your trunk, allowing your lower body to move independently.

The Seal-

This last exercise teaches you that balance, control and powerhouse, they all work together. It is a great workout or the abdominal as this rolling exercise pushes you to first initiate and then control rolling over with your abdominal muscles, instead of launching yourself back and forth. Use your core and breathe to control rolling movements.

Keep up with these set of Pilates exercises and see how it benefits your body. It will help you build core strength and stability, tone your muscles, align your posture, improve your body awareness, reduce stress and also help you in losing weight.

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7 thoughts on “Strengthening your core muscles with Pilates

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