Ten Important Pilates Exercises

Part of the Pilates For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australia/New Zealand Edition)

Determining the top ten Pilates exercises isn’t easy because different exercises are good for different people. Yet, some exercises stand out among the rest, including the following:

  • Coccyx Curl: This exercise is essential for warming up the spine before attempting the Hundred. Coccyx Curls will warm up the lower back, get you in touch with your deep abdominals and connect you with your butt and hamstrings.

  • Upper Abdominal Curl: This is a good second exercise to do right after Coccyx Curls. This exercise will warm up the upper back and neck and strengthen your upper abdominals (while developing stability in Neutral Spine in the lower back and pelvis).

    The Upper Abdominal Curl also teaches proper neck alignment. When you lift your head off the mat and think of squeezing an orange under your chin, you are using your deep neck muscles, which are important for neck health.

  • Hundred: If your body and spine are warm before hitting the mat, Hundred is a fine way to start your mat routine. The Hundred exercise is a good way to get you really warm and maybe a bit sweaty, and one of the best exercises to connect the breath to the abdominal muscles using percussive breathing. It’s great for strengthening the deep abdominals and neck muscles.

    Bridge: Everyone can do Bridge safely: the young, the old and the restless. This exercise makes the top ten because it teaches torso stability and strengthens the butt and back of the legs (the gluteus maximus and hamstrings). The single leg variation improves lower back and pelvic stability (by working the gluteus medius).

  • Roll Down and Roll up: This very basic exercise uses your whole abdominal wall and helps you in daily life. Roll Down/Roll Up will strengthen abdominals and hip flexors (the psoas muscles), plus stretch the spine.

  • Rolling Like a Ball: This exercise is both fun and good for you. It often makes you feel like a kid again, while at the same time it increases back flexibility, massages the back and teaches control from the deep abdominals.

  • Rising Swan: This is a lovely exercise. It makes the top ten because it strengthens back and neck muscles and reverses the effects of slumping, as well as stretching the chest, abdominal, butt and hamstring muscles (when done correctly).

  • Side Kicks: This is a favourite series as it can really work the butt. Side Kicks will strengthen butt muscles (gluteus maximus and medius) and build torso stability. Plus, they’re doable even if you’re pregnant.

  • Swimming: This is a full-body exercise that has many benefits. Swimming makes the top ten because it strengthens the back and neck muscles, trains proper neck alignment and reverses the effects of slumping.

  • Sexy Spine Stretch: This exercise is often seen as a self-adjustment for the spine. Often there will be a popping noise, which is the spine realigning. The Sexy Spine Stretch will work the spine, back, chest and pectoral muscles. These stretches also make your spine twist, thereby increasing flexibility.

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Pilates For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australia/New Zealand Edition)

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