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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

Shoulder Bridge

This exercise primarily works core and lower body.

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and sole of your feet on the mat. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up towards the ceiling until you cannot lift anymore, your body supported on your shoulder blades and the soles of your feet.

2. Place your hands underneath your hips, fingers facing outward, with your elbows directly underneath your hands. Sink your belly button towards your spine and stretch your right leg out straight in front of you, foot pointed, and kick it up to the ceiling, inhaling as you lift. Flex the foot and exhale as you lower your leg, stretching it away from your hip, until your thighs are in line.

3. Repeat the kicks three to six times and return your right foot to the mat. Lower yourself to start position. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 with your left leg.


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