Wildly popular in the early 2000s, Pilates is enjoying a bit of a renaissance. Combining bodyweight training and yoga-inspired moves, Pilates can help improve stability, while toning your body all over,. Plus, Pilates is a great way to get fit anywhere — at home, in the gym or even at the park.
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These six exercises make for an excellent upper-body and shoulder workout, helping you gain strength to complete everyday tasks (carrying groceries, lifting things). As a bonus, they can also help alleviate shoulder and back pain, too.
1. Plank Arm Row
- Start on a mat in push-up position.
- Keeping your hips level, lift your left hand off the floor and bend your left elbow behind you so your hand is next to your shoulder.
- Return to the starting position, then repeat, this time rotating your hips until they are perpendicular with the ground.
- Return to the start position, then repeat 20 times for one set, alternating sides. Aim for three sets.
2. Dip Kick
- Sit on the floor with your knees bend and your hands and feet flat on the ground.
- Lean your torso back 45 degrees.
- Bring your left knee to your chest, putting your left foot on top of your right knee, then lift your hips off the ground.
- Return to the starting position, then repeat on the opposite side.
- Do 20 reps for a full set. Aim for three sets.
3. Pilates Press
- These are similar to normal push-ups, but with only one foot on the ground.
- Start in a push-up position, then lift your right leg off the ground.
- Hold it in the air while you do partial push-ups, only going down a few inches and keeping your elbows pointed directly behind you.
- Do 10 reps, then switch legs and do 10 more for one set. Aim for three sets.
4. Ab Shapers
- Start in a plank position, with your forearms flat on the ground and your elbows under your shoulders.
- Rock your body forward, bending your elbows until your face nearly touches the floor.
- Press backwards to the starting position.
- Repeat 20 times for one set. Aim for three sets.
5. Scapula Isolation
- Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart.
- Reach your hands toward the ceiling, palms in.
- Keep your head down as you inhale and reach your shoulders off the mat, stretching up, then exhale as you pull your shoulders back down.
- This is a great exercise to help with shoulder pain. Aim for three sets of 20 reps.
6. Head Nod
- Start in the same position as the scapula isolation, but with your hands at your sides.
- Tuck your chin toward your chest, then slowly lift your head off the mat, following through the motion of the chin tuck.
- Lower your head back to the start position, and repeat 10 times.
- Do this exercise slowly and carefully to relieve pain from neck injuries.
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