Having worked with professional and school age athletes for many years, I’ve seen all kinds of tight, achy bodies that not only need more flexibility, but greater core strength. And while every athlete is different, there is once common denominator: The athlete that moves the best, and performs the best, WINS! So regardless whether you’re training for your next Ironman or Tennis match, Pilates is essential to your training. Pilates is not only a mind-body workout, it helps you become more in tune with your body’s specific needs and lays a perfect foundation for whatever sport you’re about to tackle.
Because Pilates improves sports performance, you’ll find that the exercises condition the whole body—even your ankles and feet, which contribute to healthy, balanced muscles. Doing the same workout every day will cause weak muscles to become weaker, and strong muscles to become stronger. Pilates will help you avoid this muscle imbalance and take care of your body as a whole!
Whether you’re new to Pilates or a seasoned veteran incorporate these 5 moves into your training program for a stronger core and more flexible body.
- Lie supine (on your back) with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip width apart. Place arms on the floor palms down and reaching towards your heels. Relax your upper body. Slightly tuck your chin so that you only have enough space under your chin for your fist. Your eyes should be looking forward over your knees vs to the ceiling.
- As you inhale prepare for the movement by tipping your pubic bone slightly upwards so that your tail bone essentially points towards the wall in front of you. You should feel a “scoop” between your navel and pubic bone.
- As you exhale, maintain this “pelvic scoop” and peel your spine off the floor one vertebrae at a time, from your lower to middle to upper back. You should feel as if you’re peeling one vertebrae at a time off the mat until you reach the bottom tip of your shoulder blades.
- Pause at the top of your “bridge” as you inhale. Exhale as you lower your spine one segment at a time until your tailbone reaches back down to the mat. Repeat 10 times.
The Hundreds: Used as a warm-up exercise to connect your brain to your body, 100’s will work your breath control, coordination, increase your endurance and build your stamina. It’s perfect for strengthening your core and as a warm up for all workout programs.
- Lie supine with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor about 4” apart from one another. Make sure your feet and knees line up to be the same distance apart.
- Your chin is slightly tipped downward and your eyes are over your knees. You should have enough space under your chin equal to a tennis ball vs a golf or soft ball. Your arms should be palms down, flat at your sides- creating a wide shoulder and neck line. Tip your pubic bone slightly upwards to create a scoop between your navel and pubic bone.
- Inhale to prepare and as you exhale, curl your head, neck, torso off the floor till the tip of your shoulder blades. Your hands will float off the floor about 3-4” and remain long down by your sides.
- Maintain this scoop throughout the entire exercise. While keeping your body completely still and your eyes towards your thighs or knees, begin pumping your arms up and down vigorously in a small pumping action, to match the pulse of your breath. Inhale through your nose with small sniffs of air for 10 counts. Exhale through your mouth for 10 counts. 10 inhales and 10 exhales performed for 10 sets is 100 breaths.. ergo why this exercise is named The Hundreds.(To advance this exercise legs may be brought in to table top. From table top you may advance to 90 degrees and from 90 to 45 degrees off the floor.)
- Lie supine with your head/neck/shoulders curled off the floor just to the tip of your shoulder blades.
- Make sure to maintain enough space under your chin for your fist, so that your head is in the right place. Your eyes should be looking towards your thigh or knee.
- Bring both legs to table top and from table go straight towards the sky, while keeping your tailbone imprinted to the floor.
- With both legs at 90 degrees, reach up and clasp your hands some place between the back of our knee and ankle. Allow your left leg to lower down about 45 degrees from the floor, while keeping your shoulders relaxed and eyes toward your thigh.
- As you exhale change legs. Repeat for 5 times on each leg
- Lie prone (on your belly) with your arms in front of you and legs fully extended. Your palms are down on the floor, and tops of your feet pressing into the floor with toes pointed. Make sure that while your arms are stretched out straight that your shoulders are relaxed away from your ears.
- Tip your pubic bone towards the floor, and pull your navel up off the floor towards your spine.
- Inhale to prepare and as you exhale peel your chest and thighs off the floor, while maintaining a neutral neck and spine. (In a “neutral spine” your head and neck should create a straight line, so that your chin does not tip towards your chest nor to the sky. The crown of your head is reaching to the wall in front of you.)
- As you inhale, raise your right arm and left leg off the floor and as you exhale change sides.
- Continue this pattern for 10 cycles breathing so that with each movement there is one breath.
- Sit with your knees drawn close to your chest, legs together so your body is in a tight ball with your feet resting on your mat. Place your forehead close to your knees, eyes cast downward toward your thighs or belly.
- Clasp your hands close to your ankles with your elbows close to your body.
- Rock back slightly to your sit bones so that you’re balanced with your feet suspended above your mat.
- Inhale as you roll back – making sure to keep your chin tucked and body in a tight ball.
- Exhale as you roll forward to your starting position. Repeat 10 times
By: Amy Lademann
Amy is the co-founder of BEYOND MOTION and the creator of barre motion™. She is a renowned fitness expert, nutrition coach, motivational speaker, and writer. When she isn’t at the studio, you’ll find her spending time with her husband Rick, their bulldog Mu’ko – Grace, and connecting with friends. Want more Pilates tips for your specific sport? Contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-254-9300.