A Pilates Workout Plan

Overview

Pilates, a method of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates when he was serving as as a nurse in World War I, is now a popular way of toning and sculpting lean muscles. Pilates focuses on slow, controlled movements and is practiced in homes and fitness centers around the country, notes KidsHealth.org, a division of the Nemours Foundation. A Pilates workout plan consists primarily of moves that tighten your core muscles. You can do Pilates exercises easily in your own home with little more than a fitness mat.

Step 1

Stretch your muscles carefully. Stretching is especially important in Pilates, because the body may be put into positions that it hasn’t been in before. Stretch your arms by crossing one over your chest and hugging it to your body, then repeating on the other side. Sit on the floor with your legs extended and reach with your hands to touch your toes, limbering up your back. Finally, hug your knees to your chest one at a time to stretch your legs.

Step 2

Lie on your back to complete the one-leg circle move, recommended by “Ladies Home Journal” as an integral part of a Pilates workout plan. Lie flat on your back and extend your right leg so that it is perpendicular to the floor. Point your toe and draw a circle in the air with your toe, feeling the strain in your hip, buttocks and thigh. Draw 10 to 12 slow circles before lowering your leg back down to the mat and repeating with your left leg.

Step 3

Complete a seated spine twist to work your back and abdominal muscles. Sit with your legs straight in front of you. Allow your spine to drop into a neutral spine position, with your neck elongated. Extend your arms to either side of your body, instructs “Fitness” magazine. Slowly twist your body so that your chest is facing to the right, with your arms still extended. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged as you twist back to starting position and then to the left. Each movement of the twist should take about three counts. Twist 10 times.

Step 4

Lie on your back in preparation for the hundred, perhaps the most well-known Pilates exercise. Bring your knees to your chest, then extend your legs into the air, keeping them straight and pointing your toes toward the ceiling. Raise your upper body slightly so that your shoulders are no longer touching the mat. Extend your arms so they are by your hips and turn your hands flat, facing the floor. Take a deep breath, and while inhaling, pump your arms five times. Then exhale, pumping five more times. Try to do 100 pumps, or 20 sets of inhaling and exhaling while pumping. Keep your abs engaged for the entire exercise.

Step 5

Lie on your stomach to begin your cool-down with the swan pose. Place your hands next to your shoulders. Take a deep breath and push up, raising your chest and keeping your legs and hips flat on the floor. Feel the pull through your spine and abs, which may be sore after a rigorous workout. Stay in the position for 20 seconds before releasing.

Step 6

Repeat your Pilates routine at least three times a week, working on controlling your movements so that your muscles become stronger over time. Supplement your Pilates workouts with three days of cardiovascular activity as well, so you can burn fat while sculpting lean muscle. Drink plenty of water and make nutritious food choices for the best possible results from your plan.

About this Author

Jae Ireland specializes in keyword research and Internet marketing. Getting her start with a small Internet marketing firm in 2005, she has since designed and written for well over 20 commercial and informational websites. Her areas of interest and expertise include fashion, parenting, home improvement and health and fitness.