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Pilates Push-Up Instructions

An Old Favorite with a Pilates Challenge

By

Updated November 05, 2011

Pilates push-up is an advanced move. You can start working on it now - just know that is takes a while to build up the core strength, arm strength, and stability it takes to fully do this exercise.

Wall roll down, front support/plank, and push up on the ball will serve you well as building blocks toward doing a full Pilates push-up.

1. Begin Standing

Pilates Push-Up
photo (c) 2007, Marguerite Ogle
Begin standing with good Pilates posture.
Inhale: Keep your shoulders down as your bring your arms straight up over your head.

2. Curve Down

Pilates Push-Up
photo (c) 2007, Marguerite Ogle
Exhale: Allow your arms to follow your ears as you nod your head and begin to roll down toward the mat. As you roll down, pull your abs in and curve your spine until your hands reach the mat. You may need to bend your knees toward the end to get your hands to the mat.
(Review wall roll down as a prep for this part of the exercise.)

3. Walk Out to Plank

Pilates Push-Up
photo (c) 2007, Marguerite Ogle
Inhale: Walk your hands out on the mat in three big steps until you are in front support/plank. Be sure to keep your shoulders away from your ears.
Keep your pelvis very stable as you walk your arms out. It should not rock back and forth with the movement or your arms.
End in plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, your legs straight, and your body in one long line from your heels to your ears.

4. Pause at Front Support/Plank

Pilates Push-Up
photo (c) 2007, Marguerite Ogle
Exhale: Hold your plank position. Your legs and arms should be straight. Your heels, hips, shoulders, and ears should be in one line.
Rotate your arms are so that the inside of the elbow faces forward. This is important as it helps stabilize your shoulder blades and sets your elbows in position for upward movement.

5. Lower Toward the Mat

Pilates Push-Up
photo (c) 2007, Marguerite Ogle
Inhale: Bend your elbows straight back along your sides so that your arms brush your ribs. (This is different than some push-up styles where the elbows are allowed to splay outward.)
As you slowly lower yourself toward the mat, keep your shoulder blades settled in your back; they should not pop up or move together. This is an essential part of the exercise as it teaches you to stabilize your shoulders and torso.

You might also want to see How Not to Do a Pilates push up which demonstrates this part of the move.

6. Return to Plank

Pilates Push-Up
photo (c) 2007, Marguerite Ogle

Exhale: Keep your abs lifted and extend your elbows so that you levitate your body, in one long line, up away from the mat.
Many people find that keeping their inner thighs together, and imagining that their sit bones are pulling together, engages the lower body in a way that helps you get back up without collapsing.

7. Walk Back

Pilates Push-Up
photo (c) 2007, Marguerite Ogle
Inhale: Walk your hands back to your deep curve position. Keep your pelvis lifted, and again, don't let the pelvis rock.
Rael Isakowitz, a Pilates master, points out that many students mistake this move as a yoga-like downward dog position, but it is not. You are using your abdominals to deeply pull in and move toward rolling up.

8. Roll Up to Standing

Pilates Push-Up
photo (c) 2007, Marguerite Ogle

Exhale: Use your abdominals to slowly return the pelvis to the upright position and allow the rest of the spine to roll up, vertebrae by vertebrae.
End in a standing position.

Inhale to lift your arms and repeat this exercise three to five times.

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