What can you do when your normal fitness routine is starting to become old? Why not try something new. This can come in the form of a different exercise added to your existing routine. Or you could really shake it up and try a whole new type of workout like Pilates.
A pilates workout is probably one of the most versatile forms of exercise. The biggest plus being that you can do it at home or with friends at the local gym. When looking at different exercises, there are dozens of ways you can modify them and make them your own. That’s part of the reason that pilates workouts are becoming increasingly popular.
What is Pilates?
But what is pilates and can it really do you good to add it to your workout regimen? Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise. Unlike weightlifting or even cardio, it tends to aim more towards muscle strengthening while also improving flexibility and your posture. In most cases, you can expect to be engaged in pilates for between 30 minutes to an hour.
An added benefit is that you really don’t need any equipment. Most of the pilates workout can be done with or without it. Looking for where the challenge is? It comes in the form of slow deliberate movements and learning to control your breathing. Think about it. Have you ever done a wall sit or squats and just held the position for some time? Yes, then you know the burn that accompanies those small movements.
What to Expect from Pilates
Now, something you’ll want to keep in mind is that pilates often focuses expressly on your core muscles. However, other muscle groups often get a good workout as well. You’re more than likely going to feel it in your core, hips, and thighs the most as these parts make up the “trunk” of your body. One thing to remember is that if you decide to do a pilates workout in the form of a class, the instructor will more than likely add in different exercises for arms, glutes, and even your lower parts of your legs like calves and ankles. All in all, your entire body will no doubt get a good butt kicking workout.
Benefits of a Pilates Workout
Okay, so what can you really truly expect from adding pilates to your workout routine? The whole gist of why pilates is so great is that it strengthens multiple areas of physical health. This means strengthening your core as well as improve balance and giving you a better foundation. Those that partake in a pilates workout often see improvements in their posture, flexibility, and even mobility in general.
Still a bit skeptical? Then take a look at the science. In an eight week study, those that worked with a pilates workout three times a week for an hour at a time improved functional movement screening score. This means better balance, mobility, and stability for those individuals. Even those that did yoga didn’t experience such a great improvement.
Still need more to go off of. Another study for twelve weeks had participants reporting improved endurance and upper body muscular strength as well and hamstring flexibility.
Pilates for Beginners
Here are some things you’ll need to know before getting into the thick of pilates. For starters, there are typically two types of pilates; one is mat pilates and the other is reformer pilates. In most cases, classes at your local gym would be the former instead of the latter. So, what’s the difference.
It comes down to the “equipment”. In mat pilates, you would use a somewhat thick mat. This is not a yoga mat per say as they tend to be on the thinner side. Instead, they’re usually around a half inch to an inch thick mat that will cushion various pressure points as you go through the movements.
For reformer pilates, there is a machine that has a sliding platform with a foot bar as well as various springs and pulleys for resistance.
Regardless of which pilates you decide on, the goal is still the same. You want to focus on quality and not quantity. This means that instead of working to crank out the most reps at the highest resistance you want to control your movements. Making them more deliberate.
In most situations these different pieces of equipment won’t show their faces in a beginner’s class. However, it’s still beneficial to know what they are. The first is a wunda. This is a piece of equipment that almost looks like an oversized step stool. It’s used as a balancing piece and has many different exercises you can do on it. There are also other pieces used in pilates that include things like the spine corrector, highchair, and magic circle ring.
Moving with Pilates
While there are many different variations of exercises, as a beginner you’ll at least want to understand the basics. This means knowing the names and the movements associated with them.
The first and most common in beginner classes or routines is “the hundred”. This is a breath work exercise in a pilates workout that focuses on core strength and stability. You’ll lay down on your back with your legs out flat feet touching. Then to start you’ll want to inhale and on the exhale you’ll curl your neck and shoulders up while reaching your arms to roughly hip height. Once you do that, you’ll lift your legs up keeping knees straight. Once you feel it in your abdominal region you’ll know you’ve got the right spot. Once all of that is settled, you’ll start to pump your arms while breathing. You’ll breath in for 5 counts and out for 5 counts, ten times total which gives you your 100.
Another common beginner pilates workout move is leg circles. This movement is similar to arm circles, but we’ll still explain how to best do them. Just like “the hundred” you’ll want to lay face up on your mat with your arms by your sides, palms facing down. Then bend one knee with that foot flat on the floor. Extend the opposite leg so that it is perpendicular to the floor. You’ll then slowly take that leg in circles as big as you can handle while maintaining control. This essentially means keeping your back flush to the floor. Reverse the circle for a few repetitions and then switch to your other leg.
Series of 5
The third and final common pilates workout exercise is the series of 5. This exercise is a group of moves that are used to strengthen both abdominal and back muscles alike.
The first of the movements is single leg strips which you are again on your mat for. You do this exercise by hugging one knee into your chest while extending the other out hovering above the mat. You’ll then proceed to switch back and forth between legs almost in a bike pedaling fashion.
Then after that, you’ll move into the double leg stretch. With this variation you hug both knees to chest and then extend your arms and legs out. Arm above head and legs out at a 45 degree angle.
After you complete that exercise you’ll move into the scissor pilates workout exercise. In this exercise both legs go straight up into the air. You’ll then flex your feet and hold one leg and create a scissor cutting motion with your legs. Switching back and forth between legs.
The fourth exercise is the lower lift. You’ll hold your shoulder and neck up using your hands as a cradle behind your neck. Both legs will then go straight up, and you’ll slowly lower them to be parallel to the floor. Continuing to focus on form over speed. You’ll lift them back up and do this for a few more repetitions.
The last of the series of 5 pilates workout exercise is the crisscross. Your legs are still elevated above the mat at a 45 degree angle and you’re essentially doing crossover crunches where you’re alternating shoulder to knee movements.
What To Do if You Experience an Injury
Most individuals will use the R.I.C.E. method of soothing an injury and while that method works, it tends to work conditionally and is a short term response. If you’re looking for a more thorough inner healing you may want to look into peptides. There is one in particular that works great when you receive a soft tissue injury and that is BPC 157. It helps speed the recovery process so that you can get back to enjoying your pilates to the fullest.
Healing Help with Paradigm Peptides
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