Pilates – what is it, exercises for beginners

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For those who want to strengthen their health, tighten their figure, there is a huge number of various sports directions. The exercise system developed at the beginning of the 20th century by Joseph Pilates and named in his honor is gaining more and more popularity among lovers of a healthy lifestyle. Pilates – what are these unusual exercises that strengthen the body, while it is completely safe for the spine and are characterized by slow execution of movements?

What is Pilates in Fitness

One of the most useful and safest types of training is what pilates are. The secret lies in the fact that the system was developed by a person who began to engage, being painful and weak. Having independently developed and tested all the exercises on himself, the creator of the method Joseph Pilates gained good health and a strong athletic figure.

Due to such an advantage as the opportunity to study for weak people, the system gradually gained a lot of fans – those who cannot afford to take on more difficult and active sports. Pregnant women, people with problems of the musculoskeletal system, novice athletes opt for it. Pilates mix is ​​used in fitness, which includes slow strength exercises..


Pilates begins with breathing, so you definitely need to learn how to breathe properly in the lateral or thoracic way. It consists in the fact that with each breath you need to maximize the chest. This actively saturates the body with oxygen, strengthens the intercostal muscles. Smooth exhalation helps to carefully enter the muscles into tension. In addition to proper breathing, it is important to master all the other principles of the system that provide a good result:

  • Smoothness. Pilates classes are slow or medium speed. They are carried out without jerking and overvoltage.
  • Relaxation and isolation. Stress areas need to be monitored so that those idle places remain relaxed..
  • Centering. All approaches are performed with constantly drawn in abdominal muscles..
  • Concentration. During classes, you need to get rid of extraneous thoughts and focus on the exercises themselves, the correctness of their implementation.
  • Alignment. Very important body position, which must be constantly monitored.
  • Gradual This applies to the load, which increases only when the previous one is fully mastered..
  • Regularity. Noticeable results appear after regular classes.

Pilates girl

The difference between Pilates and yoga

Both systems have more similarities than differences. They are smooth, designed to strengthen and heal, but yoga is an ancient direction that has been created for more than one millennium. Pilates is a young system that is only about 100 years old. Yoga involves a greater immersion in your inner world, a rethinking of everything around you, spiritual development. Pilates is aimed at healing only the physical body. It does not perform long poses such as yoga asanas.

The benefits of Pilates for the body

A feature of the classes is the deep study of several muscle groups during each individual exercise. Together with proper breathing, they bring great benefits to the body, improving health. Pilates helps strengthen even sickly and weak older people. It tightens the shape, strengthens the bones, makes the muscles elastic. With regular exercises, the posture changes, because the back muscles are strengthened. The technique helps to get rid of pain, improves joint mobility. The body inside is filled with strength, it becomes much more resilient, and the figure is more graceful.

For the spine

Diseases of the spine can affect people of any age, and a sedentary lifestyle is increasingly contributing to this. In diseases such as osteochondrosis, scoliosis, intervertebral hernia, many types of physical activity are contraindicated, but not Pilates for the spine. It is safe due to the absence of sudden movements, in addition, many exercises are performed lying down, which reduces the risk of any additional injuries. The benefits are as follows:

  • nutrition of the intervertebral discs;
  • development of flexibility;
  • the formation of a strong muscle frame;
  • the control and balance that this system teaches;
  • elimination of muscle cramps;
  • decrease in body weight, which reduces the load on the spine.

For weight loss

Most people tend to lose weight quickly, but those who lose weight rapidly, very often can not maintain reduced weight. Another thing is Pilates, which does not promise quick results. It acts slowly, but no less effectively helping to lose weight. The difference compared to more active sports is that classes on this system bring results when you spend a lot of time doing them regularly. Many exercises (boat, peak, twisting) are aimed at those areas that are problematic in most people: hips, stomach.

The girl is engaged in Pilates

To strengthen muscles

During the Pilates classes, there is an alternate study of all muscle groups, during which they are strengthened, but not built up. Those who spend 10 minutes daily doing this quickly begin to feel the difference in their condition before and after exercise. 20 minutes / day significantly changes a person’s posture and gait by strengthening the muscles of the whole body. Z0-minute classes quickly make a person much more resilient, relief and strength appear in the body. Particular attention is paid to the “frame of strength” – it is the oblique and transverse muscles of the press.

Pilates gymnastics at home

Due to the fact that this system is considered one of the safest, it is suitable for execution at home without preliminary preparation and regardless of your physical data. Beginners should take into account that training will not be very simple, therefore it is better to familiarize yourself with some rules in advance:

  • You need to breathe with your chest, taking air as much as possible with your lungs.
  • The press must be constantly strained.
  • Shoulders held down. This is important for full chest opening..
  • The head should always be kept straight, without tipping back or resting on the chest..
  • The spine must be constantly tried to stretch.

Basic exercises

There are three difficulty levels in this exercise system. Even if you are not used to playing sports, it is better to start with basic exercises. Although they are simple, but doing everything right, you will find that it takes a lot of energy. The main goal of the initial complex is to feel your spine, determine all the bends, and return it to its normal position. The spine of most people is curved to a greater or lesser extent. Basic Pilates exercises will strengthen those muscles that stabilize its position, bring your posture in order.

Pilates Equipment

There is inventory that is intended for use during classes on this system. It includes several special simulators and shells:

  • Isotonic ring. It is made of steel, the diameter is 38 centimeters. On the sides are attached grips for arms, legs.
  • Cylinder. He is a Pilates roll or roll. It has a cylindrical shape, up to 90 centimeters long, 15 centimeters in diameter.
  • Ball or fitball. Pilates exercises on the ball reduce the load on the back, the ball is used to better work out the muscles.
  • Mat. The difference between this inventory and any other rugs in thickness. It should be from 6 centimeters.
  • Band expander up to 25 cm long. Provides extra load.
  • Reformer – a simulator resembling a bed with a metal frame and other elements.
  • Allegro – moving frame trainer.

Girl doing exercise with isotonic ring

How many times a week do you need to do

Each person can choose for themselves an individual training program. The main thing is that these are regular workouts several times a week. The less often you spend them, the more time each should take:

  • Daily classes can be given for 10-20 minutes.
  • If you train every other day, half an hour is enough.
  • You will have to spend about 45 minutes on exercises three times a week..
  • You can only do two times, then it is better that the training is long (about 1.2-2 hours).

Pilates – a set of exercises

This training system includes many exercises. They can be arranged in different complexes, which are suitable for a person depending on the individual state and well-being. Beginners choose basic exercises that increase overall tone, pregnant women – complexes that strengthen the pelvic muscles. For women who want to improve their shape after childbirth, there are many exercises that tighten the stretched muscles of the abdomen. While practicing on your own, use the instructions in the photo or video, for example, from Karen Carter, which will help to better understand the implementation.

For beginners

If you are a beginner, you can start with simple exercises that do not require any equipment. Perform each two to three times until you fully master and feel the strength to increase the number of approaches:

  • Cancan. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and squeezing tightly. Socks only slightly touch the floor. Place your elbows under your shoulders, lean on them. Pull in your stomach, take a breath, at this moment, turn your knees to the right. On the exhale, straighten your legs, put on the same diagonal with the body. On the next breath, return to the starting position. Repeat the other way.
  • Crosswise suitable for stretching the back. Lie on your back, lift your legs, bend at the knees parallel to the floor, hands are under your head, elbows look to the sides. The stomach needs to be pulled in. Take a breath, tear your shoulder blades off the floor. Exhale by stretching your right leg at an angle of 45 degrees, then turn the body to the left. After do the opposite movement.

For pregnant

For women during the period of expectation of a child, it is useful to engage in this technique for many reasons. This relaxes the muscles, prepares the body for childbirth, reduces tension in the uterus. It is important to consider the trimester of pregnancy when choosing exercises, adhering to a small amplitude of execution and minimal effort. Here are affordable and safe:

  • On knees. Perform simultaneous lifting of opposing arms and legs, placing them parallel to the floor. Quantity 5-10 times.
  • On the side. One leg is on the floor, the other is torn off 45 degrees. Imitate her pedaling a bicycle. Then switch sides. Perform on each leg 10 times.

Pregnant girl doing pilates at home

After childbirth

For recovery after childbirth, those exercises that at a basic level tighten all the muscles of the body are suitable. You can start with the following:

  • A hundred. Lie on the floor with your knees bent. Exhale by lifting one leg so that the lower leg is parallel to the floor. Keep it there for 10-15 breathing cycles (inhale / exhale). Then repeat everything with the other foot.
  • Circles knee. The situation is the same. Again, as you exhale, lift your leg parallel to the floor, holding it in such a way, draw circles with your knee on the ceiling for 5-10 breathing cycles. Repeat everything with the second leg.

Lose weight with Pilates

Active saturation of cells with oxygen during a special breath of this technique helps to lose weight safely for health. The numerous abs exercises that are present in this technique load all the abdominal muscles. Hips and buttocks are also effectively tightened. Pilates for weight loss makes the whole body slimmer due to tightened and toned elastic muscles.

Weight Loss Exercise

One of the effective exercises for stretching the press, waist, strengthening the whole body is the “Plank Pose”. First, get on all fours, rest on your elbows, then stretch your legs alternately, resting on your socks. Press the feet against each other. Straighten your whole body, inhale, raising your hips, lowering your head. On the second breath, return to the original position. Repeat 10 times.

Another option is an effective press exercise called “Scissor Turns”. First lie on your back with your arms outstretched to the sides. They will serve as a support. Grasp your legs with the ball, inhale, then raise your knees at an angle of 90 degrees. As you exhale, lower your legs to the right. Return to the previous position, repeat everything the other way. Perform 10 repetitions.

Butt and thigh exercises

In order to tighten the buttocks and hips, the exercise “leg swing” is suitable. Get on all fours first. The wrists should be exactly under the shoulder joints. Slowly take back each leg in turn. Rest on your toes, feet pressed to each other. Straighten in one straight line. Inhaling, raise one leg, exhaling – lower. Do this with the second leg. Repeat 5 times on each leg..

Exercise “Mermaid” will focus on the hips and the entire lateral line of the body. For a start, sit comfortably on one hip with your knees bent. Rest on the floor with one hand, put the other on your knee. Inhale, push off from the floor, straightening the body and taking the pose of the side plank. The free hand reaches up. The body resembles the letter “T”. Slow down, change position.

The girl performs an exercise leg kick

Pilates contraindications

Although Pilates is considered the safest and most gentle form of exercise, in some cases it can also be dangerous. Remember that you should not train if you experience discomfort during training. If you have a malaise, a fever or you feel a cold or other illness is coming, skip the lesson. If you have one of the following diseases, then the technique can be harmful. It is better to refuse it or consult a doctor in advance. Restrictions apply to people with:

  • osteoporosis;
  • mental illness;
  • chronic diseases at the time of exacerbations;
  • varieties of pain;
  • fever;
  • varicose veins;
  • inflammatory processes.
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