Pilates For Novices

By: Steven Giles


You may be wondering just what the craze is about Pilates. This is one of the fastest trends in fitness today. So, you want to jump on the bandwagon and try out Pilates for yourself? First, you must begin with some basic warm-up exercises. They will prepare your body to safely execute more challenging exercises in the future. Here are some beginner exercises that will help you jump into the program:

Warm-up – Arm reach and pull

This Pilates exercise will help to establish shoulder stability. It will increase the awareness of scapular placement as well as movement.

.Warm-up - Arms Over

This is a fundamental exercise in Pilates. It not only helps to improve posture but it increases the range of motion in the shoulders and gives the trunk more stability.

Warm-up - Angel Arms

This is a terrific exercise to perfect your understanding of how your shoulders and arms affect the back as well as the ribcage. This exercise will help to develop core stabilization awareness, helps increase the range of motion for the arms and shoulders and improves posture.

Warm-up – Imprinting

This is probably the most basic exercise in Pilates. This exercise is centering and deeply relaxing. It is great for stress reduction and a good way to center yourself before you begin any exercise routine whether it is Pilates or not.

Chest Lift

This may look like the “crunch”, but there are some major difference between the chest lift and the way people do a “crunch”. Here’s how you do this:

• Lie on your back, knees bent keeping your feet flat on the floor. You want to make sure that your legs are parallel. Now you are in a neutral spine position and have a natural curve of your lower spine. This creates a slight lift off your mat.
• Bring your hands behind your head with your shoulders down and fingertips touching each other.
• Take a few deep breaths. Check your body to make sure it is in the proper alignment. Your neck should be relaxed and your ribs should be dropped.
• Bring your head up slightly toward your chest and then drop back down again.

The Hundred

This exercise is often used as a warm-up for the abs and lungs. You must coordinate your breathing with the movement and try to be strong and graceful as well. This is a challenging exercise. Here’s the way to do it:

• Lie on your back with knees bent. Your shins and ankles should be parallel in height with the knees. Your hands should be put behind your knees for now. Inhale.
• Exhale. Your head should be brought up and your chin down. Using your abdominal muscles, curl the upper portion of your spine off the floor. Your shoulders should be engaged in the back. You should now be gazing down into the scoop of your abs. Hold this position and inhale.
• Exhale. You now want to deepen the pull of your abs while extending your legs and arms and point toward the wall that is in front of you. Your legs should be as low as you can get them without shaking. You also do not want your lower spine to jump off the mat. Extend your arms straight out low, and with your fingertips reach for the far wall. Hold this position.
• Breathe in five times and out five times. These should be short breaths. As you do this, you should be moving your arms in an up and down manner – a small pumping of your arms. Your abs should be doing the work while your shoulders and neck remain relaxed.
• This should be done for a cycle of 10 breaths. Now go back to your original position.

One Leg Circle

This is one of the best exercises in Pilates for testing your core strength. Your abs must work hard in order to keep the shoulders and pelvis stable even though there is movement of your leg in your hip socket. Here is how to do this exercise:

• Prepare – Lie flat on your back with your arms by your sides. Try balancing the weight of your shoulders and hips on each side.
• Engage your abs – Pull your abs in and anchor your shoulders and pelvis. Extend one of your legs toward the ceiling. Do not lift your hips. If your hamstrings are tight, then the knee may be slightly bent.
• Leg Circles – Inhale. Cross the extended leg toward your opposite hip. Exhale. Drop your leg a few inches. Open your leg out and sweep it around in a small circle back toward the center. You should use control and your shoulders and pelvis should be kept level.
• Breath and Movement Pattern – With each leg, do five circles in each direction. With the first set of five, inhale as you cross your body and circle down. Exhale as you open your leg and circle up. With the second set of five, you want to exhale and open your leg and circle down. Then inhale to cross your body and circle up.

These are just a few of the Pilates exercises that beginners should get to be familiar with. Remember, practice makes perfect!

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There are a range of DVD's on sale at www.pilatesorstretchforbackpain.com which have been recommended by a leading British Osteopath/Physiotherapist. Please visit my blog at www.stretchorpilatesforbackpain.com The author, Steven Giles is a 55 year old former accountant who has been suffering from back pain for several years and has found that Pilates provides relief from this. He lives in Greater Manchester in the North-West of England.

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