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Pilates exercises for full-body fitness: Illustrated Pilates techniques

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

See how to get a Pilates body

Pilates is a full-body conditioning exercise that strengthens, lengthens and tones your muscles. Pilates effectively improves posture, core-strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and the mind-body connection. In addition, it is a form of functional fitness that will make all of your daily activities easier -- whether you have a desk-job or are a training athlete. These five Pilates exercises will give you an introduction to the Pilates mat work -- together, they work every muscle in your body!
Pilates exercises

When your busy schedule deters you from getting to the gym or Pilates studio, don't just throw in the towel on your fitness. Even if you are always on the go, you can easily fit in these five Pilates exercises.

If you have not previously practiced Pilates or have some doubts as to its ability to get you fit, read Get a Pilates body for information on the benefits of Pilates as well as the recommendations to make it a part of your fitness regime. And before you begin any new exercise routine, talk to a qualified Pilates instructor – or physical therapist, if you are coming back from an injury – to make sure you do a level of Pilates that is right for you.

The Hundred

The Hundred is a warm-up exercise that increases your breathing and circulation. This exercise targets your core and arms.

1. Lie on your back with your head resting on the mat. Pull your knees into your chest and inhale deeply. As you exhale, sink your belly button towards the mat, maintaining this position throughout the exercise.

2. Tuck your chin into your chest as you reach forward past your legs. Lift your head and keep reaching forward until you feel your shoulder blades press into the mat. Straighten your legs to the ceiling, squeezing your legs together.

3. Pump your arms straight up and down as if you were slapping water. Keep your arms straight and do not touch the mat. Pump your arms for 100 counts. When you are done, return your head to the mat and bring your knees into your chest and rest.

 

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