Pilates classes may seem intimidating, even to regular exercisers. Pilates requires more control in breathing, flexibility and a strong core. Pilates is a perfect transition for those who want to try yoga but aren’t comfortable with the meditation, grounding or centering aspects that yoginis desire.
You may be familiar with simpler variations of these exercises, but with these progressions you can kick your workout up a notch. Most of these movements are based on the Plank. If you cannot do a full plank for 30 to 45 seconds, perfecting your plank should be your first priority.
Try these 5 new moves over the course of the next two weeks, or try them all at once for a great core workout.
Upward Facing Plank
A traditional plank is formed in ‘push-up’ position. For this move, simply turn your plank upwards. Keep your hands under your shoulders and remember to maintain a straight line connecting your shoulder joint, hip joint and knee. Keep your spine straight, including your neck. Breathe deeply and steadily to achieve higher control in this move.
One Legged Plank
Encourage more oblique and transverse abdominis development by challenging one side of your body at a time. Lift one foot off the ground. Keep the lifted leg as straight as possible. If you cannot yet do a full plank, this move can also be done on your elbows (shown below). Bonus: The higher you raise your leg (while still keeping you back flat and spine straight) the more your glutes will work.
Balancing Glute Bridge
Not Ready? Try with a BOSU Ball first. Place the flat side on the ground and put your feet on the balance side. This way, you get some of the challenging effects of balance training, but without the chance of the ball rolling out from under you!
Ready for More? Try one legged glute bridges on a medicine ball!
The side plank, like the one legged bridge, is another way to target one side of the body and build core strength. Keeping your spine straight and your entire body aligned is just as important with the side plank. This move can also be done on your elbows. To mix this plank variation up, try putting your feet on a bosu ball or lifting up your top leg.
The leg pull itself can be an add-on to the upward facing plank, however you can take the leg pull further and strengthen your hip flexors by performing the pull with a straight leg. If this is too much at first, and you feel your lower back loosing form, start by bending your leg and bringing your knee to your chest, then straightening your leg out in front of you again. Hint: The leg pull can also be done in a side plank, either with a bent or straight leg.
There are countless variations and modifications that can be made to those 5 core exercises. Whether you use them as a yoga pose, in your pilates routine, or in replace of crunches or other ab work in your strength training program, you core will become tighter and stronger. You may even find your stronger core adds functionality to other exercises, like the deadlift, squat or shoulder press.
Email me to schedule a session to determine your core stability and strength and to find an appropriate modification for your goals and abilities.