Pilates Workouts and Mobility Warm Up

I once read about the slow process of Pilates and how it can have the power to change your posture and life forever. Joseph Pilates said:

• up to 10 sessions to feel the difference.

• up to 20 sessions to see the difference.

• up to 30 sessions to have a whole new body.

I have given you this Pilates warm-up and mini workout for those of you who are short of time or who want a less strenuous workout. You can incorporate the pelvic stability exercises described on the post: above into this workout to increase the length. This is also a useful workout to add into your exercise programme because it will stretch and tone your muscles at the same time as making sure you are using your body in a good way.

However, if you want to get active and out there, feel free to skip to the section that suits you best. This section of the website should not be seen as a military step-by-step process; it’s all about choices that are right for you, making this an enjoyable experience and an ongoing journey

Mobility Warm Up for Pilates

It is important to make sure the body has a gentle pulse-raiser and mobility warm-up for Pilates. Follow these suggested exercises because you will be stretching and lengthening the muscles during the pilates programme below, and you will want to maximize the benefits.

Breathing

Stand in a neutral position, breathe in and take the arms out to the sides allowing your ribcage to open laterally, then breathe out, releasing the arms back down and softening the ribcage. Repeat as many times as you need to energize your body. Then inhale, take the arms over the head and stretch, feeling the abdominals lengthen. Take care not to arch the back. Exhale and release the arms back down. Repeat 5 times.

Head Mobility

Stand in neutral and look straight ahead, then look down at your chest. Bring the head back up. Turn your head to the right; bring it back to centre. Turn your head to the left; bring it back to centre. Tilt the head down to the right shoulder; bring it back to centre, then tilt down to the left shoulder and come back to centre.

Ankle Circles

Stand in neutral on one leg with the knee lifted in front of you and at hip height, with the toe pointing downwards (hold on to a surface if you need to). Circle the ankle in one direction 5 times, then in the other direction 5 times. Try just to work in the ankle joint, don’t move the leg. Repeat with the other leg. This should help improve your balance and mobility at the same time.

Angel Wings

Inhale, then exhale and lift the arms out to the sides, bend the elbows and put the fingertips on the back of the head. Inhale and lift the shoulders, exhale and let the shoulders drop, inhale and take the elbows back — without sticking the ribcage out or arching your back — exhale and stretch the arms out to the sides and lower. Repeat 5 times.

Swinging Down and Up

Standing in a neutral position, breathe in and lift the arms above the head. Breathe out, bend the knees and swing the arms down and behind you. Breathe in as you swing the arms back up above the head, straightening the knees at the same time — avoid arching the back as you reach up. Repeat 10 times.

Rotations — Swinging Side to Side

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms raised to shoulder level, and swing from side to side, letting your body turn easily and lifting the heel of the foot you are turning away from to avoid twisting the knee. Look in the direction you are turning so you are looking slightly over your shoulder.

Roll Down into Press-Up

Start from neutral spine with feet and hips shoulder-distance apart. Breathe in then breathe out, navel to spine, and roll the head, shoulders and upper body down as if peeling away from a Velcro wall. Do NOT lean back on the heels or send the bottom out. Aim your weight slightly forward, keeping the knees soft. Roll all the way down, bending the knees as much as you need, and walk out on the hands (resting on your knees if preferred) keeping the abdominals pulled in and the hips level. Make sure the hands are wider than the shoulders and do a press-up, making sure you engage navel to spine.

PILATES MINI WORKOUT

SETS: 1

REPS:

LEVEL 1: 8-15 box press-ups

LEVEL 2: 8-15 half press-ups

LEVEL 3: 8-15 full press-ups

DEVELOPMENT:

Do a full press-up, then lift one leg keeping the hips level, hold for 5-10 seconds before lowering and returning.

Do a full press-up with one leg raised.

INCREASES: mobility and strength.

Do a box press-up (head in front of hands). do a full press-up (take the knees away from the floor) Breathe in then breathe out as you roll back up through the vertebrae — imagining you are building blocks through your spine one on top of the other — make sure the head is the last thing to lift up.

Cat Stretch

Start on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders, knees directly under your hips, in neutral. Breathe in then breathe out and tuck the head and tailbone down to the floor as you pull up through the centre of the back and stretch. Slowly release and allow the back to give a little in the opposite direction but not too much.

SETS:

REPS:

LEVEL 1: 4-6

LEVEL 2: 6-8

LEVEL 3: 8-10

INCREASES: mobility

Side Kick

Lie on one side in a straight line with your hips and shoulders stacked on top of each other. Bring the feet and legs slightly forward so if you look down you should be able to see your toes. Bend one arm to rest the head on to avoid neck tension. Place the fingertips of the other hand in front of you to aid your balance. Don’t rock forward or backward. Engage navel to spine.

• Level 1 – breathe in and lift the top leg to hip level, then breathe out as you take the top leg forward. Do not let the hips fall forward, only take the leg as far forward as you can remain stable and feel a challenge on the abdominal area. Breathe in to return (keep the leg at hip height throughout the exercise).

• Level 2 – lift both legs and perform the above exercise.

• Level 3 – as Level 2, but take the supporting hand away to reduce the stability Repeat on the other side.

SETS:

REPS:

LEVEL 1: 4-6

LEVEL 2: 6-8

LEVEL 3: 8-10

DEVELOPMENT:

• Lift both legs and perform a scissor action — top leg slightly forward, lower leg slightly back, then alternate legs keeping the alignment of the body.

INCREASES: strength and mobility.

Knee Folds

You will breathe out on all the movements for this exercise. Lie on your back on the floor in neutral spine with knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Breathe in to prepare. Breathe out, engage navel to spine and slowly fold the right knee up at a right angle and stop at the point where the knee is balanced above the hip (the shape of the bent leg should not have changed). Breathe in wide through the ribcage (try and avoid any tension building with the breath). Breathe out and slowly return the foot to the floor (make sure the abdominals do not dome or the back arch). Repeat with the left leg.

SETS:

REPS:

LEVEL 1 4-6

LEVEL 2: 6-8

LEVEL 3: 8-10

DEVELOPMENT:

• Double knee folds — lift the first leg, then the second leg. Lower the first leg, then the second leg.

• Start with both legs lifted then lower one leg until the tips of the toes reach the floor and then lift back up while the opposite leg is lowering.

INCREASES: strength

Single Leg Extension

Lie on the back in a double knee fold. Breathe in to prepare. Breathe out, contract navel to spine as you extend one leg away — do NOT allow the back to arch or the abdominals to dome. Breathe in as you return knee at a right angle then repeat on the opposite side.

SETS: 1

REPS:

LEVEL 4-6

LEVEL 2: 6-8

LEVEL 3: 8-10

DEVELOPMENT:

• Extend one leg and as the leg retracts extend the other leg.

• Extend both legs together, then retract, maintaining strong neutral spine. Don’t let the back arch.

• Lower legs slowly, as close to the floor as your strength allows.

TIP: lengthen out to stretch

INCREASES: strength

SETS: 1

REPS:

LEVEL 1: 4-6

LEVEL 2: 6-8

LEVEL 3: 8-10

DEVELOPMENT:

• Once in the bridge position lift both arms up and over head so they touch the floor; as you lower the body allow the arms to return back to sides.

• Once in the bridge position extend one leg, keeping the hips and knees in line. Lower the spine back to the floor with the leg still lifted, keeping hips level. When you are down, draw the leg back in.

INCREASES: mobility and strength

Shoulder Bridge

Lie on the floor on your back in neutral spine. Breathe in then breathe out and pull navel to spine. Allow the pelvis to tilt and begin to peel the spine away from the floor (notch by notch as if peeling away from a tacky surface). Take the position as high as you feel comfortable, but no higher than the shoulder blades. Breathe in to hold. Breathe out as you lower down slowly, one vertebra at a time, aiming to stretch the spine as you lower. Come back to neutral spine.

Hip Rolls

Lie on the floor on your back in neutral spine, legs together, arms out to the sides, palms facing up. Breathe in to prepare. Breathe out, navel to spine, and allow your legs to drop to one side with control while your head rolls the other way Breathe in, to prepare for the return. Breathe out, engage the abdominals and return the knees back to centre aiming to pull the knees back with the strength of the abdominal contraction.

SETS: -1

REPS LEVEL 1: 4-6

LEVEL 2: 6-8

LEVEL 3: 8-10

DEVELOPMENT:

• Start with both legs lifted, keep the knees together and extend one leg, then roll towards the bent knee. Repeat on the same side for a set and then change legs and direction.

INCREASES: mobility