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Workout Wednesday: Pilates for a Stronger Core

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Core

We’ve posted more than one core workout in the past few months, and there’s good reason for it. Your core contains some of the most important muscles in your body, and is responsible for holding you upright, helping you walk, and much more.

This week, we’re focusing on Pilates that make you twist and stretch your way to tighter, stronger core muscles.

A Brief History of Pilates

Pilates have been around since the early 20th century and were invented by Joseph Pilates, a German physical-culturist. According to his book Return to Life through Contrology, Pilates are “the art of controlled movements, which should look and feel like a workout (not therapy) when properly manifested. If practiced with consistency, Pilates improves flexibility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the whole human body” (Source).

Pilates were developed to be done with a variety of what Joseph Pilates called “apparatus.” This equipment was used to help stretch, strengthen and align the body, which improved core strength. Concentration is a big part of correct Pilates form: “Concentrate on the correct movements each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value,” Pilates states in his book.

This form of exercise has consistently been a popular one because it can easily be done almost anywhere. It may be a popular form of exercise among women, but believe me, it provides a great workout for everyone.

This Week’s Workout

Our workout this week comes courtesy of Cassey Ho, a fitness guru and certified Pilates and group fitness instructor, and MindBodyGreen.

6-Move-for-Core

The Moves

1. Trunk Twist

Put your hands out in front of your chest and connect your hands so your arms make a straight line from one elbow to the other. Bend your knees, cross your ankles and lift your feet off the mat, balancing on your tailbone. Twist to your left (keep your hands connected and arms straight) and lower your elbow to the floor. Twist back to the starting position and down to lower your right elbow to the floor. Repeat 20 times on each side. (This move works your obliques and quads.)

2. Shooting Star

Start with your legs in the same position as the last movement. Place your hands together, index fingers pointing up like a gun. Be sure to sit tall and balance on your tailbone. Tap the tip of your fingers to your left hip, exhale, then extend your arms up over your head as you stay balanced on your tailbone. Keep your legs extended as you reach over your head. Breathe in as you lower your arms down to touch your fingers to your right hip. Repeat 15 times total. (This move works your  quads, obliques, abs and shoulders.)

3. Side Plank Rotator

Push yourself up onto your left elbow with your hip pointing toward the ground. Keep your elbow underneath your shoulder and cross your opposite leg over the bottom at your ankles. Life your right arm to point toward the sky. As you exhale, bring your right hand down and curve it under your torso, twisting your body to point toward the ground. Inhale and lift your right arm back toward the sky. Repeat 10 times on each side. (This move works your core, obliques and shoulders.)

4. Side Plank Dip

Start on your left elbow, much like the last move. Push yourself up into a side plank stance with your legs crossed at the ankles again. Raise your right arm toward the sky again. Keep your hips and chest pushed forward and lower your hip to the mat, then push back up into the start position. Repeat 10 times on each side. (This move works your obliques.)

5. Windmill

Start this move lying flat your back with your arms straight out to your sides. Life both your legs straight up towards the sky, and keep your heels together and toes pointed upward. Lower your legs to your right side as far as you can without lifting your upper back off the floor. Bring your legs back up, then lower them to your left. Repeat 12 times total. (This move works your lower back and obliques.)

6. Hip Twists in Plank

Begin in a regular plank position, on your elbows with your hips up and legs straight back. Twist your hips to tap your left on onto the mat, then twist to do the same on your right side. Repeat 20 times on each side. (This move works your core, obliques and hips.)

Cool-Down & Recovery

Make your cool-down routine a simple one this week. Do 10 to 15 jumping jacks at a moderate pace and take a short walk. Cool down outside, if you can. Nature is good for the soul, after all.

It’s still pretty warm out there for most of us, so be sure to drink a good amount of water. If you need ideas for protein and recovery, check out the items listed below:

Have you used Pilates as part of your regular fitness routine? How are they working for you? Leave us a comment and let us know!

 

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