This Pilates workout is designed to strengthen your core stability muscles: the deep abdominal, back, and pelvic floor muscles. One of the best ways to challenge these muscles is to make them stabilize the trunk under unstable conditions. In this workout, we do that by reducing stabilizing contact with the floor and by using the exercise ball (non-ball options are given too).
This is an intermediate workout but all of the instructions include modifications. Use the photos as reminders. If you don't remember an exercise or it is new to you, the instruction links will give you all the details.
You might think that breathing is too easy an exercise. But diaphragmatic breathing helps you get oxygen to fuel your workout, stimulates the organs and spine, and it prepare your core muscles to workout.
Do this exercise standing so that you will be ready for wall roll down.
Take at least 5 deep, belly breaths.Instructions for Diaphragmatic Breathing
Standing is another action we take for granted. But standing with good alignment takes a lot of core strength. We are always in danger of falling over, really. It's the core muscles that hold us up. The wall roll down exercise helps to stretch the back and warm up the abs, establishing a strong, tall posture when we step away from the wall. Notice also that wall roll down incorporates the Pilates fundamental exercise, arms over.
Do wall roll down 5 times.
The ball adds our first real stability element. Make your core muscles stabilize you. Keep your spine long and your abs in. Don't depend on just leg power to lift the leg. Whether you are on the floor or on the ball, the idea is to get a deep crease at the hip and use your abs to help lift the leg.
Do at least 5 lifts on each leg, alternating. Then, stay on the ball (if you are using one) for chest lift.Instructions for Knee Folds
Instructions for Knee Folds On the Ball
Again, the exercise ball is going to add a stability challenge to this exercise. Use your core for balance and stay away from trying to steady yourself by over-gripping the ball with the legs. On the floor or on the ball, you might feel this more in your upper abs but pull in the lower abs in and up as well.
Do 5 -7 repetitions.
Instructions for Chest Lift On the Ball
In one leg circle, the leverage of the extended leg moving away from center challenges the core to keep the trunk stable, as in no rocking of the hips, at all.
Do 5 circles each direction with each leg. Do small circles at first and build up to larger ones.Instructions for One Leg Circle
This exercise begins with shoulder bridge prep, where both feet are on the floor and you lift the hips straight up (not rolled up) to be in a diagonal line with the shoulders. Extending one leg gives you less of a base and a greater level of difficulty for the core to maintain stability.
Alternate lifting each leg 5 times each. If you are only pressing up to bridge position without the leg lifts, press up 3 times.
Maintaining balance is a big job for the core. First, we take away all contact with the floor except just behind the sit bones. Then, if you are ready, take that balance into rolling. Stay curved, and use your abs to initiate the rolling and keep you rolling straight.
Do 3 balances and 3 rolls. Don't do more because we are going directly to rolling like a ball.
Instructions for Open Leg Rocker
Lying on your side with your ribs and legs lifted away from the mat does not provide a very big surface to balance on. That means your core will be working extra to keep you stable and your hips stacked vertically, as well as to lift your legs. It is a good idea to bring your legs slightly forward of your hips to help with balance.
Do 5 lifts on each side.
Side-lying and a leverage challenge from your moving leg will work your core muscles in side kick front/back. Moving up to kneeling side kick, with just one leg and one hand on the floor, makes it even harder to maintain a stable trunk.
Do 5 kicks on each side. Do 3 on each side if you are taking the exercise up to kneeling position as well.
Instructions for Kneeling Side Kick