5 Beginner Pilates Exercises You Can Do at Home

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Time is money. And not having to pay for classes or commute to a studio, saves you a lot of both. Even so, a lot of people avoid exercising at home because they don’t have the equipment or because they simply don’t have any idea where to start.

Enter Pilates. All you need is a mat or a square of carpet, and you can do a variety of moves to strengthen and tone your entire body, improve balance, flexibility, and mobility. Ready to give it a try? Find a space where you have room to move — because you’ll be doing a lot of that — and try this beginner-friendly Pilates workout.

1. The Hundred

This staple of Pilates warms up the body and strengthens the abdominals. “This is a great exercise to begin working on intercostal breathing — inhaling into your ribcage and keeping your navel pulled in.

  1. Lie down on your back and extend your legs at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Use your abdominal muscles to lift your head and upper back off the ground.
  3. Extend your arms alongside your body.
  4. Begin to pump your arms up and down while inhaling and exhaling in unison.
  5. Inhale five quick counts, and then exhale five quick counts — that’s one cycle. Do 10 cycles

2. The Swan

Build strength in the spine, backs of the legs, and buttocks with the swan.

  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs separated hip distance apart and slightly rotated outward.
  2. Place your palms on the floor next to your face so your thumbs line up with your nose.
  3. Press into your palms and slowly lift your upper body off the floor, using primarily the strength of your lower and mid-back muscles.
  4. Press the tops of your feet into the mat. (“Keep your glutes engaged by actively pushing down on the hip you are reaching away from,” Martin says.)
  5. Lower back down with control.
  6. Do six reps.

3. Single-Leg Kick

Strengthen your glutes and hamstrings and stretch your hip flexors and quadriceps with the single-leg kick.

  1. Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your forearms, with your shoulders aligned over your elbows and your forearms parallel.
  2. Exhale, contract your abdominals and the backs of your legs, keeping the legs straight and the toes pointed.
  3. Bend the left knee, inhale and raise the lower leg off the mat, pulling it in toward your buttock with two quick pulses. (“But don’t over-reach the leg; that will strain the lower back,” Martin says.)
  4. Extend the leg again.
  5. Do six reps on each leg.

4. Roll Up

The roll-up helps you learn to articulate the spine and builds abdominal strength.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended and your arms overhead, palms up.
  2. Point your feet and press your lower back into the ground.
  3. Exhale to begin, then inhale and raise your arms up so your fingers point at the ceiling.
  4. Contract your abdominal muscles and begin to curl your spine off the mat vertebra by vertebra.
  5. Rise slowly and keep a curve in your spine as you come through a sitting position and reach toward your toes.
  6. Inhale and slowly reverse the move so your spine meets the ground vertebra by vertebra.
  7. Do three to 10 reps.

5. Swimming

No pool? No problem. The Pilates swimming exercise strengthen the glutes, hamstrings and back muscles, as well as lengthening the fronts of the hips.

  1. Lie on your stomach and extend your arms overhead.
  2. Inhale, contract the abdominals and lift your arms, chest and legs off the floor.
  3. Keep your legs straight.
  4. Exhale and hold.
  5. Begin active breathing as you move opposite arms up and down and scissor your legs at the same time as if swimming.
  6. Use the same breathing pattern as you did in the Hundred exercise — five quick inhales and five quick exhales. Do 20 to 50 reps.

Source: https://www.livestrong.com/article/13716161-beginner-pilates-exercises-at-home/

Author: Devika

Devika, M.Sc, NET Qualified is passionate about helping people discover the power of nourishing real food. She specializes in weight management, therapeutic nutrition, food allergies and intolerances, inflammatory diseases, gut health, and functional nutrition. Her approach blends a conventional health care and nutrition background with natural and science-based therapies.