Pilates workouts are a great way to start developing a strong core. Pilates can be practiced by people of all fitness levels, including those recovering from some injuries. When you are starting to practice Pilates, it’s good to focus on some basic mat exercises to get familiar with Pilates techniques and poses.
The following are some of the basic exercises that are well-suited to Pilates beginners. Each exercise works some part of the core (abs), and many work other muscle groups as well. Pay close attention to the details of each move, as correct form and posture is important. Muscles will not be worked effectively if correct form and posture are not used, and injury could result from improper form as well.
Basic Move #1: The Hundred
This classic Pilates exercise works all of the abdominals, the lungs, and the arms and legs to some extent. It is a challenging exercise, but can be modified for beginners by raising the legs higher, which lessens the intensity, or even putting the legs in a ‘table top’ position.
Basic Move #2: Pelvic Bridge or Curl
This move works the abdominal muscles that support the lower back. People with lower back pain can benefit greatly from this basic exercise which can realign the back and abdominal muscles. The bridge stabilizes the core, strengthens the butt, and also strengthens the back of the legs. This exercise is often used by physical therapists to safely strengthen a weak or injured back. This exercise should be done slowly and you should be able to see your knees even at the high point of the exercise.
Basic Move #3: Plank
The plank has become a very famous exercise for just about any kind of workout, but has always been a staple exercise in Pilates. This exercise works the back extensors, abdominals, shoulders and arms. Unlike a push-up, which it seems to resemble, the plank does not put a lot of pressure on the upper body. It is more about the positioning than about using the body for resistance.
Basic Move #4: Saw
This exercise works the hamstrings, inner thighs, oblique abdominals, and stretches the back. The key to this exercise is to keep hips stabilized and level as you turn to each side. Be sure to exhale as you reach.
Although many websites provide detailed, step-by-step directions for performing these moves, the importance of correct form makes working with an experienced instructor an important part of learning Pilates. Pilates Sports Center offers many classes for beginners at all of their various locations to give everyone a firm foundation for the correct practice of this beneficial form of exercise.