This guest post was written by Sylvia Favela, creator of Body Weight Pilates.
What’s this all about?!
When you first hear of Pilates, the image that pops into most people’s minds is of women lying around on the floor stretching and breathing. Well, I’ll be the first to ruin your preconceived ideas about Pilates and fill you in on what it actually is, and how it can significantly improve your movement on a daily basis.
Pilates is a tough workout and THE very best for attaining a strong, tight core.
It’s a bit of a love-hate relationship. You hate it because you feel every body in your muscle activate and fire up. The muscle fibers fatigue and you want to stop halfway through. But at the same time, you love the results, how much stronger you become, and how you feel after a workout.
Pilates is not just for women either, though it has been tailored for them. Take a minute to wonder, if a women can do a Pilates workout, then it should be a piece of cake for guys, right?
Well, not really!
Nowadays, more and more fitness training programs incorporate Pilates exercises as the go-to technique for developing a strong core. Many of today’s top athletes use this style of conditioning to increase their athletic performance.
A strong core is the foundation for a strong, well-balanced body. Pilates targets the intricate muscles that support and protect the lower back, spine, pelvis and hips. When the body is kept in proper alignment, the exercises challenge the it by forcing it to move in a controlled, fluid motion.
Pilates will not put strain on your joints, nor will it make your body stiff and tight.
Instead, with Bodyweight Pilates you can:
- Test your fitness level by executing the moves with correct form, reducing the duration of the workout while increasing muscular performance and results
- Fire up your muscle fibers quickly and fatigue them FAST with basic movements
- Target the deepest layers of the abdominal muscles, the transverse abdominals, all while strengthening the body as a whole
- Target the small, intricate muscles that surround and protect the lower back, spine, pelvis and hips (who wouldn’t want that, right?)
- Reduce the risk of injury and strain on joints and the body as a whole
- Enhance and increase your physical performance and endurance; with a strong foundation (your power house), your body can perform optimally
Below, you’ll find an illustration of the Pilates Trio, three different Pilates movements that have been put together to give you a full-body, Bodyweight Pilates experience.
1. Core Lift
3 Rounds – 15 reps – 30 seconds rest
- Lay on the floor with your knee bent, and feet flat on the floor
- Firmly interlace your hands behind your head
- Keep your head up, making sure to not tuck you chin into your chest or roll your shoulders forward
- Keep your spine pressed to the floor and your abdominals engaged by drawing your belly button inwards
- Exhale while lifting the head, neck, shoulders and chest towards the ceiling and your knees
- Keep your feet firmly pressed into the floor
- Keep your transverse abdominals (deep abdominal muscles) engaged to prevent the hip flexors from working
- Inhale while lowering the head, neck and shoulders back down to the floor
- Repeat the movement
Side note: Make sure to keep your pelvis still, and don’t allow it to move from side to side. Engage your abdominals throughout the movement. Do not tuck your head down, or put pressure on your head with your hands.
2. Single Leg Reach
3 Rounds – 15 reps – 30 seconds rest
- Lay on the floor with your knees bent and shins parallel to the floor
- Lift the chest up, keeping the shoulder blades off the floor, and place both hands on your right knee
- Exhale while extending your left leg, keeping your right knee bent
- Inhale as you bring the left leg back down
- Repeat the movement with the right leg
- As you switch sides, make sure to keep your inner thighs engaged and your legs close together as they move back and forth
- Do not tuck your chin into your chest; maintain the same distance between the two throughout
- As you switch sides, keep your pelvis still and avoid pulling on the hip flexors
- Pull your belly button towards the floor, and do not thrust the ribs outwards
- When switching legs, do not let the shin or toe drop downwards
- Do not let your knees travel past your waistline; this ensures the lower abdominals are engaged throughout the movement
Side note: You are developing your deep transverse abdominal muscles, obliques, hip flexor flexibility and strength. As you move your legs back and forth, keep your hips still and do not allow them to rock from side to side. Make sure to engage the pelvic floor muscles to minimize movement in the pelvis. This is not a traditional ‘bicycle’ movement; control your muscle as you switch the legs.
3. Pivot Prone
3 Rounds – 20 reps – 30 seconds rest
- Lay face down on the floor
- Extend your legs straight out behind you, and your arms out in front of you
- Keep your legs down, with your pelvis pressed into the floor as you engage your glutes, and inner and outer thighs
- Draw your belly button towards your spine, and do not let your ribs thrust outward; this will make it harder to breathe during the movement
- Inhale as you extend your back and lift the chest up so it is parallel to the floor
- Keeping your eyes and head facing the floor, bend your elbows and bring them back towards your lower body
- Exhale as you extend your arms straight out in front of you
- Do not tuck your chin into your chest; maintain the same distance between the two throughout the movement
- Maintain an extended spine throughout; imagine a straight line from the tip of your head down to your feet
- Keep your pelvis still, and do not let it move from side to side
Side Note: You are targeting the back extensors, lats, rhomboids and shoulder girdle. As you move your arms back and forth keep your upper trapezius suppressed and eyes down towards the floor. Control your movement and take your time as you move your arms back and forth.
The “Pilates Trio” from the Bodyweight Pilates System requires your body to work together for muscle definition, increased flexibility, range of motion and a strong core.
Bodyweight Pilates workouts are fun! NO wasted hours in your day doing countless reps and ZERO equipment required. You can easily complete the Pilates workouts at home or in the gym, and no one will know you’re doing Pilates (unless of course they are as up to date with the top core-strengthening techniques as you are!)
Sylvia Favela is the creator of Body Weight Pilates. Sylvia used to be unhappy with her body, and did cardio and lifted weights in an attempt to lose weight. But it wasn’t until she tried Pilates during rehab for a knee injury that her body really transformed. She now works to promote the benefits of Pilates.