Everyone exercises for different reasons, but the main reason usually seems to either lose weight or tone up. Then comes the dreaded image of running 10 kilometres in the gym, sweating and wishing you were at home eating chips. However, there are several effective exercises that can be done from home, where nobody can see you suffering -phew. My personal favourite method of exercise has to be Pilates as it can be done from a horizontal position (great for those of us that are lazy) yet still leave you feeling like you have completed a triathlon. Here are a few of my favourite Pilates moves that help to build your core strength, tone your muscles and help you shed a few pounds in the process enter: 5 Top Pilates Exercises to Help You Tone Up & Lose Weight!
1. The Criss-Cross
Brilliant for toning abs and shedding belly fat, the criss-cross is done by lying on a mat on your back, carefully holding your head up with your hands (as though you were relaxing on the beach) and pulling your legs upwards so that they are bent towards your chest. Holding this pose can be difficult enough as it is, but if you want to take it further, begin by pointing one of your legs upwards and lifting your upper body so that the opposite elbow connects with the opposite knee. Take it slowly at first, and then try to build up a rhythm and feel the burn!
2. The Corkscrew
This one is slightly more gentle, but again, brilliant for toning up your abs and legs, as they have to hold firm and still. Lying on your back, lift your legs slowly into the air, pointing the toes if it feels comfortable. While maintaining this position, make sure your hands are planted firmly by your side, or stretched outwards for better balance. Move your legs carefully from side to side, making sure that only your hips are moving and that your shoulders do not leave the floor.
3. Side Leg Circles
This is a pretty tough one, and left me in total agony after doing it, so rest assured, it works! Position yourself on your side, propping yourself up on your elbow. Make sure that the sides of your body don’t dip while doing this, as it can be tempting to collapse into a slouch. Position your other hand on your hip or the floor, whichever helps you balance the most, and lift your leg upwards once more. Once in the air, proceed to draw tiny circles with your toes, which will cause a deep burn in the hip and thigh area. Repeat and turn over to focus on your other leg.
4. Downward Dog Stretch
A slightly easier one here, and great for toning up your arms, legs and core. Plant your feet and bend over until your hands are planted on the floor in front of you. When you feel comfortable enough, lift up one of your legs, with a pointed toe, three times off the floor. Once complete, repeat with the other leg, making sure that your breathing is even. Stretch down into child’s pose after this, for a rest, stretching your arms above your head with your forehead on the mat.
5. Rabbit Pose
To end your sequence, this pose helps to build flexibility in your toes and wrists, along with really strengthening your core and abdomen. While in downward dog, gently lean back on your toes (which will be very uncomfortable to begin with but will get easier with practice) bending your knees and pulling your belly inwards. Hold this pose for a few seconds and relax back onto your planted feet again, then repeat.
Full Pilates Workout
There you have it, a few easy exercises that can be done morning, noon or evening. Despite the fact that they seem fairly difficult to begin with, practice will see your flexibility and strength improve surely and incrementally, meaning you’ll be able to graduate beyond beginner’s Pilates very soon. Have you tried Pilates or do you practice it regularly, how has it helped you? Tell us below, join in on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. (Why not check out our other fitness articles designed to help Keep YOUR Fit on?)