Do you wish to improve your overall fitness? The best thing that you can do is do exercises and strengthen your core. The core includes your abs, lower back muscles, and obliques. These muscles work as a stabiliser for your body and help your body to balance and stabilise.
There are many ways to strengthen your core, but the best idea is to add a Pilates workout to your routine. It is a method of exercise that includes muscle strengthening and endurance movements. It mainly focuses on proper alignment of the body posture, strengthening of the core, and muscle balance.
The best part about Pilates is that you do not need any special equipment to do it. You can do it without any prerequisites. It would be best if you do Pilates under the supervision of an instructor, as doing it in the wrong way may cause injury instead of the benefits.
You may be doing some workouts to strengthen your core, but you can do better if you follow those that you have never tried. Here are the 12 Pilates exercises that you can add to your routine to strengthen your core.
#1. Leg lift exercises
This exercise will help you strengthen your transverse abdominal, which includes your deepest abdominal muscles. This strength training targets the iliopsoas, the interior hip flexors. Leg lifts also help to strengthen the rectus abdominis muscle and the internal and external oblique muscles.
Here are the steps of how to do a leg lift.
- Lie down facing the ceiling. Your knees should be bent, and the feet should be parallel to each other and should be approximately hip-width apart.
- Then slowly inhale, and then exhale to draw your abdominals and your pelvic region to floor up, and then without moving your hips or back, lift the leg up in the tabletop position. [table top is the position when your hip and knees are bent at 90 degrees with the feet in the air ].
- Then inhale holding the position, and exhale to lift the second leg in the same position following the same method.
- Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Breathe out and return your feet slowly to the floor.
- Repeat this whole exercise five times.
#2. One leg circle
The single-leg or one leg circle is a classic Pilates exercise that will strengthen your hip flexor and hip adductor muscles. Along with the core, a single-leg circle makes the quadriceps and hamstrings strong. It also facilitates a strong hip joint.
It is an excellent opportunity to work the abdominals while keeping the Pilates principles of centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow in mind. Like most Pilates moves, this exercise blends stretching and strengthening of major muscle groups on both sides of the body and improves balance and improved overall function in your hips.
Here is how you can do a single-leg circle.
- Start on your back and keep your legs straight.
- Now exhale and lift one of your legs. Take care that your knee should not be bent much.
- Then inhale to move your leg in the air without moving your hip.
- Exhale and move your leg in a circular motion.
- Repeat the exercise five times, each side.
#3. Breathing exercises
Breathing exercises are under rated. There is also a particular technique for breathing that should be used when exercising. It focuses on your respiratory muscles and on the abdominals that help you to stabilize your pelvis.
Here is how you should do it.
- Lay down positioning your back on the mat with your feet flat and knees bent.
- Place your hands on your rib cage and inhale using your nose; you will feel that your hands are moving away from each other. Then exhale, and you will feel that now your hands are moving towards each other.
Crisscross focuses on the abdominals with a definite emphasis on the obliques. It will help you shape your bodyline. It is better to include exercises that target the obliques in any ab exercises. In fact it is one of the best at home ab workouts.
The obliques are two sets of abdominal muscles, the internal, and the external obliques.
Here is how you can do the crisscross.
- Lie straight facing the ceiling and resting your hands behind your head.
- Draw your knees close to your chest and exhale to bring your head towards the opposite knee. Try to keep your arms wide.
- Inhale and then return to the same position and then repeat it with the opposite side.
- Repeat this set 10 times.
This exercise focuses on strengthening your abdomen and your back. Maintaining this position reinforces your core and gives your entire body a workout. It tones the arms and legs, and particularly the shoulder, abdominal muscle, and back. This is one of the best exercises for you to learn if you want to work on your core.
Here is how you can do a plank.
- Start on your belly.
- Bring your arms under your shoulder and then move upward in the air slightly, putting all your weight on your arms and your feet. Try to maintain a straight posture.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat this three times.
#6. Bird dog
This exercise focuses on your abdominals and your hip muscles. It works the erector spinae, rectus abdominis, and glutes. This helps to correct the movement, control, and stability of the whole body.
It is a perfect exercise for people with lower back issues, including hypermobility, and it can help develop good balance and posture.
Here is how to perform a bird dog.
- Start with your knees under your hips and hands under the shoulder and look down at the floor.
- Lift one hand and the opposite knee above the floor and balance on the other hand and leg, then point out your arms straight in front and your leg behind.
- Be in this position for at least five seconds and then return to the starting position and switch to the other side.
- Repeat this set 10 times.
#7. Side leg lift
This exercise will provide strength to your back and your inner thighs. You can perform it lying down or standing by using your body weight. This makes it easy to do in a few reps anywhere.
Here is how you can do it.
- Start with lying on your left side. Your legs should be extended out straight and should be aligned with your hips.
- Your head should be resting on your lower arm and the top arm on your hip.
- Exhale and raise your leg, hold this position for some time and repeat this five times on each side.
#8. Single leg stretch
This exercise reinforces your abdominals and the back. It strengthens the core and improves the stretch of the back of the leg and hip flexor using a fluid, controlled motion. Remember to keep your back pressed into the floor to get maximum benefits from this move.
Here are the steps to do it.
- Start on your back facing the roof and bring your knees towards your chest. Place your hands on your shins.
- Inhale and move your head in the air and try to bring it closer to your knees.
- Stretch one leg straight and hold for 3 to 5 seconds, exhale and then change the leg slowly.
- Repeat this set 5 times.
#9. Double leg stretch
This exercise will provide strength to your abdomen and help to stabilise your upper body.
Here is how you can do a double leg stretch.
- Start by lying down on your back.
- Take a breath and pull your knees towards your chest and move your head towards your knees.
- Rest your hands on your shins and extend your legs in front and your arms to the back.
- Hold for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Exhale and squeeze your arms and legs and come to the starting position.
- Repeat this five times
#10. Shoulder bridge
This exercise focuses on your back and the pelvic floor. Here are the steps to do a shoulder bridge.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet open and arms resting on the floor.
- Exhale and lift your hips up, form a bridge position, hold for some time, and then inhale and return to the floor.
- Repeat this five times.
#11. Slow motion mountain climber
This exercise will help in full-body strengthening. Here is how you can do a slow motion mountain climber.
- Start on your knees with your arms under the shoulder, move up in the air and form a high plank.
- Pull one of the knees closer to your chest and slowly switch to another knee.
- Repeat the set 10 times.
#12. Pilates 100
Here is how you can do the classic Pilates 100 exercise.
- Start with back on the floor and arms resting on the floor.
- Pull your knees closer to your chest, move up your head and raise your arm slightly.
- Extend your legs straight, inhale using your nose and exhale using your mouth five times each and pump your arm up and down simultaneously.
- Repeat this set 10 times.
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