Pilates Exercises and Stretches
The fitness and health benefits of using a Pilates program for stretching and exercising


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My original intention was to add this beginner to intermediate Pilates section to my fitness, exercise and health website in order to introduce my readers to the importance of stretching. Most people, other than professional athletes, when weight training or participating in any other exercise or sport don’t stretch. They don’t see the importance of stretching! In my opinion, I feel that Pilates is an effective and enjoyable way to introduce you to the importance of stretching.

I was thinking and I soon realized the many additional benefits of Pilates go well beyond just stretching and flexibility. This discipline can be used to cross train with weight training, running or any other specific sport enabling you to achieve a greater range of motion and the prevention of injuries. There are also so many ways to enjoy Pilates these days: on the mat, using Pilates machines and with exercise equipment like exercise balls and exercises vary depending on your ability from beginner to advanced.

Some of the additional fitness and health benefits of Pilates that I would like to point out include:

Warm up
Great for warming up before you begin more intensive exercise workouts or even more advanced Pilates workouts thus reducing the chance of injuries or preventing injuries from occurring.

Breathing correctly is extremely important in Pilates as well as any exercise activity. It fills your body with oxygen but it also rejuvenates your boy, reduces stress and consequently has a meditative effect.

Strengthens Muscles and Core
It aids in strengthening your all muscles depending on the exercise you are performing ranging from your legs, back to abs. It also provides an amazing core workout. So if you don’t like exercising with weights all the time, try Pilates or combine the two. Plus it can be done anywhere as long as you have a mat for support.

Body Awareness
Creates a better understanding and awareness of your body because every exercise has to be done slowly and you have to pay close attention to each movement. In this manner you get a better understanding of how your body moves, its limitations and a greater range of movement.

Improves Posture
You will see that because form is important in Pilates, it will help you with your posture and many exercises require balance.

Improves Balance, Control and Coordination
Many of the Pilates exercises and stretches require balance, control and coordination particularly the exercises on the stability ball.

Rehabilitative Benefits of Pilates
Pilates has been used in the rehabilitation of athletes for their aches, pains and soreness. It has been used for the treatment of their injuries or after they have undergone surgery enabling them to get back much faster to playing their sport.

A common misconception is that some guys think that Pilates is only for women. Well, that idea is absolutely false and furthest from the truly. First of all, Pilates was created by a male Joseph Pilates. Secondly, there are so many benefits with Pilates. So how can you ignore it simply based on gender?

In this section you will find exercises that range from beginner, intermediate to advanced levels. If you are new to Pilates I suggest that you take it very slowly and at your pace. Learn the basics, the techniques and the proper form of each exercise and stretch. It will of course take time. I recommend and suggest that you pick up a quality Pilates book, one that is illustrated and has step-by-step written instructions and descriptions. One book that I have read and used and which has amazing photos and instructions is: Pilates Illustrated by Portia Page (for beginners, intermediate to some advanced) which you can read, re-read and always keep on-hand and refer to while exercising at home or the gym. Or pick up a Pilates DVD like the one I have watched and recommend by 
Sarah Picot: More than Mat Pilates (beginner level). Or a combination of the two!

I have included a few Pilates stretches and exercises for you here with corresponding HD videos and how to do instructions for each exercise and stretch:

Heel raise with squat
Leg stretches
Pinwheel exercise
Swan on exercise ball
Swimming on exercise ball
Bent knee pike on the fitness ball
Side rollover on exercise ball

Workout Recommendation

If you wish to use Pilates as a warmup and stretch before weight training or for a particular exercise activity or sport I recommend the following exercises: heel raise with squat, leg stretch, swan on exercise ball and pike on the exercise ball. These exercises should take only about 15 minutes and they will strengthen a variety of muscle groups and work your core. Also, vary it up a little from workout to workout to make things a little more interesting.

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