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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!

See how to get a Pilates body

The Rollover

This exercise articulates the spine, works the back of the arms, stretches your entire back and the back of your legs, and targets your abdominals. Note: If you have a bad neck or back, skip this exercise.
1. Lie on your back and extend your arms down by your sides. Drop your belly button towards the mat. Bring your knees up over your hips. Straighten your legs.

2. Roll your legs over your body, using your arms as support, until your legs are parallel with the floor. Do not roll so far that you are straining your neck – balance your body on your shoulder blades and upper back.

3. Open your legs to hip width and exhale as you slowly roll your spine back down onto the mat, feeling each vertebrae touch the mat as you unroll. Keep your legs straight and slightly turned out. Roll down until your lower back and tailbone are flat on the floor.

4. Continue to lower your straightened legs towards the mat until the point just before your lower back arches. Squeeze your legs together and repeat three to six times. Rest with your body long and muscles relaxed.


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