Pilates is a physical fitness regime created in the 20th century by Joseph Pilates. People who value the importance of regular exercise know that Pilates, like Yoga, can provide phenomenal fitness results when practiced regularly. If you are looking to build a strong core for a strong back, then Pilates is for you.
Pilates uses the power of breathing and intentional, flowing movement to target specific muscle groups for maximum efficiency. Core exercises power abdominal muscles close to your spine, supporting your back, pelvic and spinal alignment. Try these Pilate exercises four times a week to strengthen your core, creating better posture, centeredness and a beautiful back. Grab a mat and let’s go!
Upper Back Extension
Focus on maintaining core balance and firmness during this exercise. The exercise will strengthen the zones in your back that support posture, balance and abdominal muscle groups.
- Lay face down on your mat with feet and legs extended.
- Rest the tip of your nose lightly on the mat.
- Position hands to either side of shoulders, resting elbows on the mat.
- Take slow, intentional breaths to relax and clear your mind so that you are completely focused on the exercise and body movements. This exercise is performed in four breaths.
- Take a deep breath. Exhale as you raise your shoulders off the mat while keeping your neck relaxed and in line.
- Inhale and hold. Continue to keep ab muscles firm and taut. Feel the gentle extension in your shoulders and upper back.
- Slowly return to the mat and exhale.
- Repeat four repetitions.
The Forward Stretch will strengthen your lower back while supporting abdominal muscle groups. Keep your neck relaxed throughout. Focus on tucking abdominals to your spine for maximum results. This will create a strong core for a strong back. The exercise is complete in four intentional breaths.
- Sit in a comfortable position on your mat with legs extended in front of you. Take a deep breath as you gently raise both arms with palms facing inward, until arms are parallel to the mat.
- Exhale while pulling in abdominals and curving your back away from your arms. Take a deep breath and stay.
- Exhale and gently return to start position, bringing shoulders down.
- Repeat five repetitions, keeping arms the same height throughout.
Arms and Legs Reach
This movement is performed in two breaths. Again, clear your mind and become in tune with your body and muscle groups. Position yourself on the floor, on all fours. As you breathe in and out during this movement, focus on core and back muscle groups.
- On all fours, place hands directly under shoulders with elbows slightly bent. Knees are parallel to hips. Take a deep breath through your nose.
- Exhale as you lift and extend opposite limbs; reach with your left hand and right knee off the floor.
- Return to start position. Breath. Repeat other side; reach with your right hand and left knee off the floor.
- Complete three reps on each side for a total of six reps.
The Cat Stretch is a position on all fours on the floor. This is a fun, gentle exercise that requires intentional breathing and proper technique. The body needs to be in a neutral position, with your body lines flowing naturally and relaxed. This exercise is performed in four breaths.
- On all fours, place hands directly under shoulders with elbows slightly bent. Knees are parallel to hips. Take a deep breath through your nose, focusing on rib cage and back muscles
- Exhale as you bring your belly button to your spine, curling your back like a ‘cat’ towards the sky.
- Inhale and hold. While keeping abdominals taut, exhale and return to start position.
- Complete four reps, intentionally focusing on core and back muscle groups.
One of the great attributes of Pilates is the process of building and strengthening muscles for a fabulous body. Not only will you feel better, but you can lose extra weight and tone. Over 20 million people throughout the world participated in a Pilates workout on a weekly basis. With over 13,000 instructors in the United States alone, finding a certified Pilates instructor and a Pilates class has never been easier. As with any exercise program, consult with your healthcare professional before you begin. Avoid activities that strain or cause discomfort. For best results and for accurate position and technique, consult with a certified instructor.