Joseph Pilates knew he was onto something when he developed his set of low-impact, low-cardio fluid movement exercises designed to improve strength and flexibility and to tone muscles. Pilates are especially great for toning up typically troublesome areas such as abs, inner thighs, and buttocks.
While Pilates does not require any equipment, using a mat, exercise ball, or resistance bands make the exercises more challenging. You can also increase the cardio effect of Pilates by taking less rest time between exercises. A typical workout may use 25 to 50 different exercises and can provide the weekly recommendation of 75 to 150 minutes per week of cardio training.
Pilates engages your deep ab muscles so they not only tone your stomach but also strengthen your transverse abdominal core giving you better posture. Warm up with The Hundred before moving on to the Single Leg Stretch and both the Single and Double Straight Leg Stretches.
Inner Leg Lifts can both sculpt and tone the inner thigh muscles. Start out by lying on your left side with your ankles, knees, and hips stacked together. Support your upper body with your right elbow and have your forearm in front of you and at a right angle to the rest of your body. Place your left hand in front of you for stability and, while keeping your right leg straight, lift it as high as it can go. Hold for a few seconds before bringing it back down. Repeat for eight repetitions and then switch sides.
The Hip Roll and Hip Dips are two great Pilates moves that target the buttocks. Let’s start with the Hip Roll.
Hip Roll – Starting position is feet hip-distance apart with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your arms parallel to the rest of your body. Come up to a bridge position so only your feet and the tips of your shoulder blades are touching the floor. While in position, inhale and hold for as long as you can. Slowly exhale and come down from the bridge position. Repeat eight times.
Hip Dip – Once you finish the 8th Hip Roll, hold in the up position and instead of coming all the way down, just drop your hips 3 to 4 inches and inhale. Exhale and raise your hips back up. Continue this up and down movement for 4 sets of 8 repetitions each. Come down from the bridge position at the end of the 4th set. You should feel a “burn” in your glutes.
Doing these recommended Pilates moves several times per week will quickly improve the toning of these trouble areas. You should start to see results in as little as 2 to 4 weeks.