Pilates Exercise: More Than Just a Core Workout
It's a common misconception that Pilates method exercise is really only good for strengthening and stretching the core muscles of the body. Many people use it to tone their abs and improve their posture but, in reality, Pilates can do much more than that. In fact, when combined with an aerobic 'cardio' exercise component (e.g., jogging or Spinning) Pilates can provide you with a fantastic full-body conditioning workout!
Pilates Exercises for Strength-Training
Many Pilates exercises are great muscle-toners that work large muscle groups beyond just the abs and lower back. The Plank position, for example, effectively works the chest and triceps muscle groups. Leg kicks work the glute and hamstring muscles very well. Free squats are one of the best lower-body exercises around, working the quadriceps, the hamstrings, and the glutes. And don't think these are 'sissy' strength-training exercises. Many of the world's top martial artists practice them on a daily basis to toughen their bodies and reduce the chance of getting hurt.
When it comes to workout equipment, it's hard to beat Pilates devices like the Reformer and Wunda chair. Not only do they stretch and strengthen muscles '- providing great full-body conditioning -- but they 'teach' you how to use the different parts of your body together efficiently. Efficient body movement is a key to great overall fitness, injury prevention, and high-level sports performance. Portable Pilates equipment like resistance bands and the Pilates circle are also effective fitness tools. They're inexpensive, easy to travel with, and can easily be incorporated into many of your current muscle-conditioning routines for increased benefits.
The muscle-control and mental-focus gained from doing Pilates on a regular basis can help you in all areas of fitness. This is one reason why so many professional athletes are now taking Pilates classes. Few exercise system help you to coordinate your mind and body as well as Pilates. The benefits of this coordination are increased strength, improved posture, alleviation of pain, improved mental focus, and (obviously) improved physical coordination... to name just a few!
Putting It All Together
Simply put, Pilates exercise is a highly-effective method of total-body conditioning. No, it won't put slabs of new muscle on your body. But it will make the muscle you have look great, while providing an array of benefits that typical weight-training can't give you. Throw in some good cardio training and you've got a complete solution for great fitness and health!
About The Author
Jamie Clark is a fitness expert, researcher, and 'health nut' who enjoys Pilates exercise.