Pilates is a fitness workout designed to strengthen and stretch the core muscles. Pilates is primarily a toning workout used to lose weight and balance and the body, and an effective pilates session will strengthen the arms, legs, abs, and back. It can also be used to gain muscle through its many different motions. Having a strong core is useful in any sport, so pilates can be used by athletes that want to improve their strength and balance and bring their game to another level.
Here are three pilates exercises to hit the back, abs and shoulders:
Opposite Arm and Leg Reach
For this back strengthening exercise, begin on your hands and knees with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees right below your hips. Inhale a deep breath, and when you exhale, extend one arm straight out while also extending the opposite leg. Inhale, and bring your arm and leg back to the starting position. Repeat this using the other arm and leg. Focus on keeping your back straight and body aligned.
The Hundred is one of the most popular pilates exercises for strengthening the abs. Lie flat on your back. Lift your legs in the air so that your knees and hips form 90 degree angles. Think of it as the position you would be in if you were sitting straight up in a chair. Inhale, and reach your arms straight up as if to reach for the ceiling. Exhale, and bring your arms back down to your sides. At the same time, lift your head and neck up off the ground. Your shoulders should be a little off the ground. Inhale, taking in 5 short breaths, and exhale, releasing 5 short breaths. While doing this, keep track of your breaths by moving your arms up and down for each breath. Every 5 breaths in and 5 breaths out equals one cycle (10 quick breaths total). Do this cycle 10 times. There are 10 breaths for 10 cycles, so you can see where this abs strengthening exercise got its name.
For this shoulder strengthening pilates exercise, begin in a pushup position. Bend one knee so that it forms a 90 degree angle. Do a pushup while keeping your arms close to your body. You only have to lower your body a few inches, not all the way to the ground. Do several reps before switching the leg you lift.
Pilates can be a powerful complement to any athlete’s fitness training as it strengthens core muscles used in every sport.