P is for Push Up
The Pilates Push-Up exercise is a whole body workout.
The specific purpose and benefits are that it:
- Strengthens the core
- Strengthens the upper body
- Strengthens and mobilises the spine, focusing on the lumbar region
- Stretches the back muscles and hamstrings
The prime movers in this exercise are:
- Erector spinae
For all levels of this exercise the starting position is standing with the arms relaxed down by the side. Ensure you and your class stand at the end of the mat. Stand with good tall posture, looking forward and abdominals engaged. Inhale and nod the head by tucking the chin in, exhale and slowly roll down through the spine keeping the arms relaxed. Once a good stretch is felt in the back of the legs, place the hands on the mat. For participants who are flexible, take the hands down to the mat with straight legs. Breathe naturally as the hands walk out into the relevant Push-Up/Press-Up position. Table Top position is for beginners (knees under hips, hands under shoulders). The intermediate position is where the hands are walked further forward and hips dropped slightly. For the advanced level, knees off the floor and body parallel to the floor. Inhale as the chest/body is lowered directly down to the floor and exhale as you push up. Inhale as you walk the hands back and exhale as you roll back up through the spine to standing, trying to keep the chest close to the thighs to encourage stretching and articulation of the spine. At advanced level you would walk back with straight legs whilst at beginner’s level the knees will remain on the floor and bent until the hands are closer to the body.
As a variation, more than one Push-Up can be performed prior to rolling back up to standing instead of just performing one. Alternatively you change the hand position on the Push-Up phase. Taking the hands wider will work the pectorals more and a closer hand position will work the triceps more.
This exercise is a good one to start the main session with if you are performing a standing warm- up/ prep phase. However, it could also be a good exercise to end with if you are teaching a standing closing phase or a ‘Pilates Express’ quick class.
Important cues for this exercise are:
- Maintain core activation throughout the exercise
- Focus on a smooth and controlled roll down and roll up
- Avoid hanging the head throughout the Push-Up phase – look slightly forward of the hands
You can download and print the pdf below for your class materials: