Moves for Core Strength
Pilates moves help strengthen the core - an important aspect of overall fitness.
These moves are best attempted alongside an experienced Pilates practitioner who can help ensure proper form and avoid injury.
The hundred is one of the most well-recognized Pilates moves and is well known for being a challenging core move. It requires specific breathing patterns in order to be most effective.
As with most Pilates moves, breathing in a specific way is prescribed to augment abdominal contraction.
From all fours on the ground, take turns lifting opposing arms and legs. Lift your left leg first and once your core is stable, lift your right arm and hold this position. Once you've returned to all fours, lift the right leg and then the left arm.
Roll Up Holding Ball
This exercise, great for the abs, is done by holding a large stability ball in both hands while lying flat on the ground. Extend your arms above your head, with the ball on the ground behind you. Slowly lift the ball over your head and roll up as far as you comfortably can. For oblique work, as this picture shows, bring the ball to either side of your knees instead of rolling straight up.
Ab Work on the Ball
Another way to work your abs with a stability ball is to do roll ups while sitting on the ball. This is done by sitting, in a reclined position, on the stability ball. Rolling up slightly produces an intense ab workout. This picture may look simple...give it a try!
Push Up on the Ball
The ball is not only good for the abs, but also for working out the arms and several other muscle groups. This exercise is good for doing chest and back strength work, and in addition, improves core strength because of the stability needed to stay on top of the ball.
Ab Workout Lying Down
This exercise is a great one for those who want to work out their abs but can't bear the thought of another crunch! In this exercise, it's lifting your legs, while holding a stability ball between your legs, that works your abs, instead of lifting your head and upper body.
Stretch & Strengthen
This swan pose is a great one for stretching and strengthening all at once. For the best results, try to lift from as low as possible in your back, curving your lower spine more than your upper spine--it's not a neck bend, but truly your back which should bend.
Yoga enthusiasts will recognize Swan as a variation of Upward Facing Dog.
Try the reverse plank with knees bent first, and then proceed to the more difficult version, with legs extended, as you gain the core strength necessary to stabilize yourself in the extended position.
The Boat Pose in Pilates is sometimes referred to as a "V-Up" outside of Pilates and requires significant core strength and stability to execute. Ab muscles, lower back muscles, and pelvic muscles are all recruited in this move.
This pilates sit-up is done more slowly, and with more ab strength than momentum, than a traditional sit-up. The key to getting this exercise to really count is to make your sitting up process as slow and controlled as possible.
Push Up to Plank
This pilates sample exercise is not only good for building chest and arm strength, but also for core stability and strength. It is done slower than regular push ups, and instead of going back and forth between the upper and lower positions of a push up, you push up to plank pose (arms extended) and stay in plank pose, concentrating on the core muscles around the abdomen.