The Pilates method focuses on developing core strength, good posture and smooth, controlled movement. There are 34 mat work exercises in the original method – some mainly develop strength and some work more on smooth movement and muscle flexibility. This 30 day Pilates challenge includes 6 Pilates exercises – 3 for core strength and 3 to develop fluid movement and flexibility.
Before you do this workout
Please read these general exercise guidelines.
Please also make sure you read all the exercise instructions, as exercise technique is very important in Pilates. If exercises are done incorrectly, instead of strengthening your core, you’ll put strain on your low back.
You will need an exercise mat or some other form of cushioning for your spine.
The challenge is split into two sets of exercises – 3 for core strength and 3 for flexibility/smooth movement.
#1 Single leg stretch
- Lie on the floor with your arms by your side, your legs about hip distance apart and your knees bent.
- Bring both knees in towards your chest, then extend one leg as shown. Focus on holding your pelvis steady and not letting your back arch.
- Now bring the leg back and repeat on the other leg.
#2 Rolling like a ball
- Sit on the floor. Balancing on your hip bones, bring your knees towards your chest and put your hands on your lower legs. Point your toes.
- Keeping a curve in your spine and your chin tucked in, engage your core muscles and roll backwards.
- When your upper back is on the floor, contract your core and buttock muscles strongly to start to roll back to the starting position.
#3 Double leg stretch
- Lie on your back with your knees and hips bent at right angles and your hands behind your head, as shown.
- Curl your head and shoulders off the floor as you straighten your legs
- Return to the start position.
Flexibility/smooth movement exercises
#1 Shoulder bridge
- Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent and your feet about hip distance. Press your lower back into the floor, so that your tail bone lifts slightly.
- Follow this movement through so that your lower back starts to peel off the floor. You should be aiming to come into the bridge position with a smooth, controlled, curling movement. Concentrate on working through one vertebra at a time. You will probably find this difficult at first as parts of your spine will be less flexible.
- Stop when your whole spine is lifted and your weight is resting on your shoulders. Now reverse the movement, lowering back down one vertebra at a time. Again, it should be a smooth, controlled movement, working through each joint in the spine.
#2 Spine twist
- Sit with your back straight and straighten your legs out in front. (If you find it difficult to straighten your legs while keeping your back straight, then have them slightly bent.)
- Raise your arms up to shoulder height, so that they are parallel with the floor.
- Keeping your back straight and your arms lifted, engage your abdominal muscles and rotate your upper body to the right. Make sure the movement is coming from your upper back – there should be no movement below your waist.
- Come back to the centre and keep turning to repeat the movement to the left.
- Keep rotating until you’ve done all your reps.
#3 Spine stretch
- Sit with your back straight and your legs a bit wider than hip distance. As with the spine stretch, if you can’t fully straighten your legs, then bend your knees a little.
- Put your hands on the floor between your legs and flex your feet.
- Take a breath and exhale as you bend your head forward and then start to roll through your spine, sliding your hands forwards as you come down.
- When you feel the stretch in your back, start to roll back up.
Pilates challenge daily reps
This is how many reps you should do for each of the exercises. The numbers given for the spine twist are the total of twists in both directions – so for example 6 means 3 to the right and 3 to the left.
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