A Pilates workout regimen, consisting of the best Pilates exercises, provides a quick, easy way to tone up and slim down. While effort is required, expensive gym memberships and equipment are not. The most you'll need is a DVD, an exercise mat (optional), and some floor space.
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates and focuses on developing your body's core muscles. It also helps with improved posture, strength and flexibility.
While performing Pilates exercises, pay close attention to each movement. You'll get the most out of each exercise while helping to avoid injury or strain. Part of paying close attention is proper breathing, concentration, control, and precision movements. Also, be sure to perform proper stretching and warm up exercises prior to your Pilates regimen.
This is one of the most popular Pilates exercises. Lie on the floor with your back and shoulders flat. Point your toes and hold your legs straight out from your hips. Lift your head and look straight ahead. With your arms stretched out along your sides and palms facing down, lift your arms about level with the tops of your hips. With your arms still extended, lift them up and down about two inches from the floor. Inhale on the lift and exhale on the descent. Perform 100 of these up and down beats. For added difficulty, raise your shoulders off the floor.
This exercise is a great follow up to Hundred. With your back flat on the floor and your legs extended straight, stretch your arms straight above your head. Keep your should down. While keeping your back lot, slowly lift your still-straight arms in an arc up and forward. Inhale as you do this. As you slowly roll forward, begin exhaling. Keep your head straight with your eyes looking forward. Stretch out over your legs as you inhale again. Exhale and slowly, gently roll back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Lie on your back with your legs and arms extended. Raising your head and shoulders off the floor, lift one knee towards your chest and grab the area where your knee and shin meet with both hands. Repeat with opposite leg. Inhale for two moves. Exhale for two moves. Perform five moves per side.
Lie on your back. Keep your arms at your sides and legs extended straight out. As you pull in your abdominal muscles, lift one leg, still extended, towards the ceiling. Point your toe as you rotate the leg clockwise in a medium-size circle. Inhale for one-half of the circle and exhale for the other half. Repeat 5 times, then lower the leg to the floor and repeat the same movement for the opposite leg.
With your fingers clasped behind your head, lie flat on the floor, stretching your legs out straight, your toes pointed straight ahead. Pull your head up, but use your abdominal muscles, not your hands or shoulders. Exhale as you lift each vertebra off the floor, slowly. Stretch forward as far as possible, then, without stopping, begin lying back down slowly.
Sit on the floor with your legs extended apart comfortably. Flex your feet and push your upper body out ahead of you with your arms extended. As you round your back, inhale. Then, as you roll your upper torso back slowly, exhale. Repeat 10 times.
With your back on the floor and your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees at just under a 90-degree angle. Your arms should be at your side. Inhale as you lift your hips as you keep your abs tight. At the end of the movement, your shoulders, arms, bottoms of your feet and the back of your head should be all that's touching the floor. From this position, exhale as you raise one leg perpendicular to the floor, pointing your toe towards the ceiling. Inhale as you lower your leg straight out in front of you, until it's just a few inches off the floor. Exhale as you raise your leg back up. Lower your leg back to the starting position as you inhale. Then lower your spine back to the floor slowly. Repeat 10 times for each leg.
Sit on your side, on your hip, with knees slightly bent. Your hand should be supporting your upper body, extended out from your head and in line with your body. Inhale and slowly lift your hips until your legs are straight and your opposite arm is extended out and over your head, parallel with your body. Hold, and then exhale to the starting position. Repeat five times on each side.