One technique that continues to outlast fitness trends and deliver results is Pilates. It’s low impact, and helps tone but also lengthen muscles (most weight bearing exercises actually shorten them).
To eliminate the pesky guess work, Pilates instructor and physiotherapist, Jessica Dalziel, from Sydney’s Northern Beaches (pureformpilates.com.au) shows madison three key movements guaranteed to get you looking fit and toned all summer long.
Repeat this program three times a week or if you have time, or if you’re really keen, do it daily!
1. Bridges: Great for abdominal and butt strength.
Start by lying on your back with your spine in neutral, knees bent with feet flat on the floor and arms reaching down the side of the body.
Inhale: Prepare – keeping shoulders and chest soft and engaging your deep abdominals and pelvic floor muscles.
Exhale: Keep core muscles engaged as you first flatten your spine into the floor then continue to roll the pelvis and spine up off the floor vertebra by vertebra. In your top position you should feel your weight across your shoulder blades (not your neck), your tail bone should be tucking under and your core should be engaged.
Inhale: Hold position at top.
Exhale: Reverse the movement by rolling back down vertebra by vertebra all the way to neutral spine.
Repeat six to ten times.
2. Side Lift: Great for toning your waist and butt.
Start by lying on your side with legs outstretched, propped up on your bottom elbow (lower side of ribcage is lifted off the floor and your spine is in neutral).
Exhale: Engage core muscles, press through your lower arm (gently squeezing elbow along floor towards body) and lift the hips off floor.
Inhale: Hold lifted position.
Exhale: Lift your top arm and/or top leg.
Inhale: Lower the body and return to start position.
Repeat four to six times each side.
3. Pilates Push Up: Great for arm and abdominal toning.
Start in a “plank” or push up position with hands on the floor directly under your shoulders with and straight – as a modification you can also have your knees on the floor with knees bent in your plank position.
Elbows should be slightly softened in this position as you gently grip the floor with your hands creating a small arch under the hand.
Inhale: Bend the elbows keeping them close to the body (brushing the sides of your ribcage) to lower your torso towards the floor. Ensure that your core muscles stay switched on and that your spine doesn’t sag.
Exhale: Press yourself back up to the plank position, again ensuring that your core muscles stay switched on and that your spine remains in a neutral position.
Repeat five to eight times, then bend the knees, gently lower the body to the floor and sit back into rest position/child’s pose.
NB: This program assumes you are fit and healthy with no injuries. Otherwise please seek guidance from a properly qualified Pilates Instructor.
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