by Sylvia Favela
You don’t have to be flexible to start incorporating Pilates exercises into your fitness routine.
But you do have to develop flexibility and core strength side by side if you really want rock solid trunk strength. Here’s why…
When your muscles restrict your body from doing a particular move or an exercise because of a lack of flexibility, the ability to work your core deeply is compromised.
When your body is weak from a back injury or a weak midsection, it naturally compensates by overuse of the muscles. The balance of the body is then compromised, resulting in more injuries.
Taking time off to heal an injury is frustrating, and it sets your fitness goals back and can be discouraging.
But by adding in a daily regimen of Pilates, you can increase your flexibility and, more importantly, tighten your core at the same time!
Pilates bodyweight exercise uses the body’s own resistance and mechanics to strengthen the core from the inside out.
- Challenge your fitness level — doing a traditional sit up is a breeze when you take the next step and incorporate the Pilates bodyweight program.
- Expect to sweat in less than 3 minutes with the core moves.
- The only workout that targets the deep transverse abdominals, also known as the foundation of the body, to strengthen it as a whole.
- Work the intricate muscles that protect the low back, spine, pelvis and hips.
- Reduce the risk of injury with these bodyweight moves that encourage the body to work as a whole rather than targeting individual muscle movements.
- Increased endurance comes as a bonus — with a strong core the body performs at its optimal level.
Let me also point out what Pilates won’t do:
- Pack on large muscle mass
- Put unnecessary strain on your joints
- Reduce range of motion by limiting your movements
- Make your body stiff and immobile.
So how should you incorporate this great form of core training into your workouts?
You can add the core Pilates exercises to an already existing fitness routine, or practice them on an off day for recovery.
Let’s try an exercise!
I asked my friend Justin, an L2 Crossfit Coach and former Pro Baseball player, to help me demonstrate this core move. With continued practice you will see a noticeable difference in your flexibility and core strength.
Here are the key points you should keep in mind:
- Keep your belly button pulled in towards your spine at all times.
- Do not thrust your ribs forward.
- Control your breath so you are pulling your ribs in towards each and breathing to the side and back of the body.
- Extend one leg straight up to the sky and the other parallel to the floor. If holding the legs straight is a challenge, slightly bend both knees.
- Keep your pelvis and hips as still as possible during the movement.
- Continue to breathe through the exercise with control. Don’t throw your legs and body around. Control each movement.
- Do not tuck your chin down to your chest — keep your head in line with your spine the entire time.
Give it a try — the benefits and results will surprise you!
Have fun and enjoy a stronger core with Pilates!