Pilates is known for creating the long, lithe muscles of dancers. In fact, it is often used by dancers and athletes as a form of cross-training. Even professional athletes, such as football or baseball players, need to develop lean muscle so it's not all bulk!
Too much bulky muscle that is not pliable (i.e. has no flexibility) can lead to overuse and injury... which is the opposite of what anyone wants!
Top 5 Pilates exercises to target key areas such as the core and arms
Single Straight Leg Stretch aka The Scissors
The Single Straight Leg Stretch, also known as The Scissors, is a great example of a Pilates exercise that both stretches and strengthens the body. This is exactly what we want when creating lean muscle.
To perform the exercise, lie on your back and extend both legs to a 90-degree angle. Lift your head and reach your hands behind one leg. Draw the leg closer to you by using your abdominals as you simultaneously lower the other leg to 45-degrees. Continuously switch the legs in a rhythmic manner, remembering to initiate from the core and keeping the legs actively stretching.
This exercise will target your obliques, which is sure to trim any waistline. Bend your knees into your chest and place your hands behind your head. On an exhale, twist to the right side as you extend your left leg to 45-degrees. Inhale to the center and exhale to switch sides.
Side Kicks- Leg Circles
There's nothing like a little hip workout! The Leg Circles from the Side Kick series are perfect for creating stability in the legs and also a lift to the seat muscles. Lie on your side with your hips and shoulder stacked and square, legs angled 45-degrees away from you. Stabilize the body with your top arm. Lift the top leg and make circles (big or small) in 1 direction and then repeat the other way.
Side Kicks- Inner Thigh Lifts
Sculpt the inner thighs with this next move. From the previous position, bend the top leg so the foot is on the floor in front of you. Stabilize the body with the top arm and then lift the bottom leg off the mat. You can lift and lower, pulse, and make circles with the leg to feel the burn and create lean inner thighs!
Finally, get the arms and shoulders lean and mean with some Pilates Push-ups! It's important to have a solid foundation in a plank position first. If you're still working on your strength, modify with the knees down. In Pilates, the exhale is used for power, so to perform this push-up, you will inhale to lower the body in one piece. Hover the body in a straight line over the floor while the elbows bend into the sides to work the triceps. Then, use your exhale to press away from the floor in one piece! No sagging hips here! And say good-bye to flabby arms.
At Future Fit Training, you can learn these exercises and more in our Level 3 Pilates Diploma program.
Challenge and advance not only yourself but learn how to take your students to the next level to create the lean body of their dreams. Through this course, you can expand your teaching to gain more clientele, from the beginner to the advanced athlete.