Pilates For A Stronger And Leaner Core

Pilates and yoga often cross over in the fitness world, both have their place and both deliver differing benefits.

Through adding in one Pilates routine a week into your training, your core will feel stronger, more active whilst training in other areas and you will begin to develop a better understanding of how you core works and the importance of maintaining it!

The basics you need to know for a stronger core and leaner body are below:

  1. Plank rock: Begin in high or low plank (high on your hands, low on your forearms), if you are not ready for a full plank yet you can perform this on your knees too. Start pushing back and forwards on the feet and arms or hands to create a rocking motion, you should feel your core pulling and pushing away from you, stretching and strengthening the rectus abdominis.

  2. Hundreds: Lying flat on your back with your knees up in a table top position, bring your arms above your head then as you exhale contract your abdominals and push your arms down beside your legs towards the floor with little pulses. These can be done in sets of 10 pulses 10 times to reach a hundred or split up into as many sections as needed.

  3. Pendulum: Lying on your back, bring your arms out to a T shape with the palms facing the floor. Leg your legs come up into table top, close together, with toes pointed towards the floor. Slowly, with control, lower your both legs towards the left, then the right. Keeping your lower back on the floor and core as your main source of control. Only go as far down as you can without falling or collapsing.

  4. Leg circles: Lying on your back, place one foot flat on the floor with a bent knee at 45 degrees. The other leg is straight and perpendicular to the floor. With a pointed toe, open your leg out to the side then create a clockwise circle as you come back slowing to your starting position. Remember to keep your elevated foot away from the floor at all times and your back flattened into the floor. Press your palms down by your sides for support. Breathe in as your begin your circle, and exhale as you come back to the start. Repeat on both sides and then reverse your circle to anti-clockwise.

  5. Boat pose/ open leg balance: Sitting on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted on the floor in front of you, place your hands on the floor behind you, open the chest and roll the shoulders back. Once your feel stable, test the waters by first lifting one leg off the floor and finding your balance on your sit bones. Lift the other foot and either stay here with the knees bent and lean back slightly to activate the lower abdominals or straighten the legs towards the sky and raise the arms as your counter balance pillars. 

Try these 5 exercises at home or in the gym, all you need is a mat and some will power. Ensure your back is flat on the floor before beginning any exercise and that your core is active and engaged. To check, breathe in as you belly fills and exhale all of the air out, tightening your belly muscles in-towards your belly button and then a little further towards the spine. Your lower abdominals should be active and strong with a tuck of the pelvis down towards the floor, flattening out the tailbone, pushing it into the floor.

Your core deserves to be strong and powerful and healthy, free from pain and strain.