Are you a fitness freak who wants to strengthen and stabilise your core and work on your flexibility at the same time? Well, take out your yoga mat and get ready to do some Pilates.
Pilates has over 500 exercises that are greatly inspired by callisthenics, yoga, and ballet. The focus of Pilates is on your core. However, once you start doing a Pilates workout, you will see your arms and legs also gain strength.
The best thing about a Pilates workout is that it can be done with or without equipment. If you are just starting out, no worries. You can start by doing basic Pilates exercises at first and switch to a more advanced Pilates workout as you get better. There are so many Pilates exercises for beginners to choose from.
A Pilates workout is done indoors which is a great thing as the pandemic has forced everyone to stay inside. Being in lockdown does not mean you have to put a pause on your fitness. Start your fitness journey today with these ten Pilates exercises.
#1. Leg circles
Leg circles, also called single or one-legged circles, is a classical Pilates exercise. This exercise warms up the hip joint, challenges your pelvic stability, and strengthens the core, glutes, and hip muscles. As the name suggests, you have to move your leg in a circular motion while laying on your back. Let us see how it is done.
- Step 1: Lie on your back with your legs extended on the floor, arms stretched out by your side. Make sure to keep your palms flat on the floor.
- Step 2: Engage your core by pulling your abdominal muscles in. Extend one leg straight up with your toes pointing outwards.
- Step 3: Move your raised leg in clockwise circles. Perform ten repetitions.
- Step 4: After ten reps, change the direction of your leg from clockwise to anti-clockwise until you complete another ten reps.
- Step 5: Relax your raised leg on the floor and repeat with the other leg.
#2. Plank leg raises
The plank leg raise is a good low-intensity exercise for stomach toning and hamstrings. This Pilates exercise is a great way to activate your ab muscles and strengthen your core. Apart from your abs, plank leg raises will also work on other muscles, including your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and shoulders. Are you ready to learn how to do it?
- Step 1: Start by holding a plank position and aligning your elbows and legs in a straight line.
- Step 2: Once in position, lift your legs alternatively while squeezing the glutes. Do not forget to keep your abs engaged.
- Step 3: Make sure your body is well-aligned and there is no bending of the knees.
#3. Pelvic curl
The pelvic curl is a mat exercise that is used in Pilates workouts to warm up your spine and abdominal muscles. This exercise helps in improving spinal movement, activating, and strengthening the hamstrings and abs and lengthening the hip flexor muscles. Let us see how this is done.
- Lie on your back keeping both your arms at the sides.
- Both your knees should be bent and be a little apart from each other.
- Gently form a bridge by curling the tailbone upwards and then slowly releasing it all the way down to the floor.
- Your glutes should be engaged and the movements should be very slow and controlled for better results.
#4. Pilates push-ups
Pilates push-ups are a very effective way of losing belly fat and increasing mobility of the body. By performing this exercise in the right way, you can strengthen your arms and shoulders. You must engage your abs and core muscles in order to stabilise your torso. Follow these steps to perform this exercise.
- Step 1: Start by standing straight, then crawling into a push-up and coming back to the same position.
- Step 2: Keep your breath controlled with each repetition and feel the effect in your arms. This ensures that the whole body is involved during the exercise and you develop muscular strength and flexibility. This is why Pilates push-ups could be a better choice than regular push-ups.
- Step 3: Repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times.
#5. The Hundred
The Hundred is a common and challenging exercise in mat Pilates involving abdominal muscle tension and overall body strength. It is an exercise for beginners.
It is performed early in the workout to warm up the body and abdominals for the Pilates workout. This exercise increases the circulation of oxygen in the body, increases stamina, and improves your posture.
- Bend your knees above the hips at a 90-degree angle, with your lower leg parallel to the ground.
- Now bring them back up, keeping the head closer to the chest and start pumping your arms vigorously with palms facing down, away from the ground.
- Make sure that the neck does not feel strained and hold that position and pulse the arms for 10 breaths, i.e. hundred beats.
#6. Pilates Toe Taps
The Toe Tap is a core muscle-oriented exercise in Pilates, including obliques and hamstrings engagement. This is one of the best exercises for your lower abs as it strengthens your lower abdomen. This is a great exercise for stabilising your pelvis and lower back.
- Start by lying on your back, keeping the arms flat on the sides, and bringing the bent knees up in a table-top position, having the thighs perpendicular to the ground.
- Now lower each leg alternatively and slowly in the same perpendicular position and touch the foot on the mat.
- When one leg is in motion, keep the other leg stiff in the same position. This will target the muscles in the lower body and will improve your balance.
#7. The frog on the reformer
The reformer is a part of Pilates equipment that has adjustable strings and a movable flat platform. This Pilates workout is effective for your abs, abductors, hamstrings, back, and pelvis.
- Step 1: You need to lie down with your spine straight on the carriage, your hands should be placed on the sides and the knees should be bent and be shoulder-width apart.
- Step 2: Two strings are attached with straps to the reformer to provide resistance every time the legs are moving back and forth. The legs are extended straight with the help of the strings.
- Step 3: Now, put the legs back in the starting position.
The resistance will provide flexibility and will keep the muscles engaged if done with precision.
#8. Pilates Pendulum
This mat exercise focuses mainly on training the obliques and adding power to your spine movements. The pendulum movement is one of the best exercises to build your core strength. However, to get the benefits of this exercise, you must get the technique right. Follow the steps below to get it right.
- Step 1: Begin with lying on your back and keeping your palms against the mat. Make sure that the toes are pointed outwards and the knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Step 2: Now inhale through the stomach, keeping the core stable and exhale into the obliques when rotating both the knees to the right slowly.
- Step 3: Bring both knees in the starting position and rotate your knees to the left. For more engagement, try to stick your lower back to the mat during each movement.
#9. Oblique roll back
As the name suggests, this exercise targets the obliques and stabilises the spine. At the same time, this exercise also increases the mobility of the back and strengthens the muscles located in front of the hips, commonly known as hip flexors.
- Step 1: Sit with both knees bent and hip-distance apart from each other and the hip joints intact on the mat.
- Step 2: Straighten both arms and inhale. Keep your arms level throughout the exercise.
- Step 3: Lean a little backward and start rotating each arm to each side alternatively as you exhale.
This exercise can also be performed with a resistance band, fitness circle or a ball placed between the thighs.
#10. Stomach massage – rounded
Of all exercises, the stomach massage is probably the first one that you will learn on the reformer. This exercise is helpful in stretching the front of your chest, also known as pectoral muscles. By performing this exercise, you can strengthen your calf muscles and mobilise your ankles.
- Sit down on the flat platform facing the foot bar.
- Form a ‘V’ shape with your feet and open the bent knees apart from each other and place them on the foot bar.
- Now curl your tailbone and scoop the abdominals inwards and outwards.
Your breaths should be synchronised with the movements. This will maintain spinal flexion and increase abdominal muscle strength.
These ten Pilates exercises will be beneficial to your core and other parts of your body. Once you start adding these exercises to your fitness regime, you will begin to notice some of the many health benefits of doing Pilates. Your flexibility will improve and your muscles will strengthen.
These Pilates exercises for beginners will enhance your physical coordination and balance. Your body awareness will increase making you more relaxed and calm. So what are you waiting for? Go get your exercise mat and get right to it.
Don’t know where to start? No worries. You can learn Pilates online through Radhika Karle‘s unluclass where she has shared her experience and explained Pilates in detail. In her online pilates class, she has covered topics such as – The history of Pilates, breathing techniques, thoracic breathing, functional and core exercises, posture, and nutrition.
You do not need to be a fitness freak to learn Pilates. Anyone can join and avail the benefits that Pilates has to offer. In this unluclass, Radhika will also talk about Pilates exercises for beginners. So hurry up and subscribe now.