Pilates systematically trains the whole body. The focus is on the stomach, back and pelvic floor.
Pilates exercises – systematic, gentle whole body training
In the following article we will introduce you to various Pilates exercises for a strong back, flat stomach and slim body. With the help of the attached videos, you can do an excellent workout at home. We will also show you which tools are available for your Pilates exercises to make your workout even more intensive and effective. We also explain the four cornerstones of this training method and give tips and suggestions on how you can implement a great exercise program at home as a beginner.
What is Pilates
Pilates is a full body workout that was developed by Joseph Pilates around 100 years ago. Particular attention is paid to this training method of the middle of the body, i.e. your core muscles. This area of your body is the energy center of your body in Pilates, this power center is referred to as the “powerhouse”.
In the meantime, this holistic training method has found fans worldwide, and not without reason. Because, through the targeted building and strengthening of the entire musculoskeletal system, Pilates is ideal for improving your posture and making you and your body fit.
The four basic elements of Pilates
Pilates exercises are determined by the following four cornerstones. These make Pilates a gentle yet extremely effective workout.
You should do every exercise in a controlled manner. Become aware of the posture of your body. With every exercise, your muscles should be activated in a certain sequence in interaction with your breathing. The decisive factor here is your movement quality and not your physical strength.
The basis of every Pilates exercise is your breathing, it plays a central role. To prepare for the individual exercises, breathe deeply into your chest cavity through your nose so that your costal arches open. You exhale through your mouth during the effort. The breathing technique in Pilates is not unconsciously practicable, so it requires your concentration, but you will notice that this will make the exercises fluent and orderly.
The muscles in the middle of your body should be the center of your attention. You should keep these muscle regions in constant light tension during the exercises. This stable center is called the “Powerhouse”.
You will achieve the coordination necessary for Pilates by repeating the exercises correctly. In order to carry out the movements precisely, it is important that you establish soft and flowing processes.
What you should consider with Pilates exercises and which Pilates training tools you should know.
Even if the risk of injury is relatively low with Pilates, a proper introduction to the methodology of the exercises makes sense. You should master the basics to avoid movement and posture errors. Keep the 4 basic elements of Pilates in mind – observing these principles will protect you against overloading or incorrect loading.
If you feel confident in the basic exercises, you can use various aids that support you in the exact execution of the individual exercises and make the training even more effective. Take your time doing the individual exercises and try to be as precise and fluent as possible.
The following Pilates tools are often used in Pilates:
Exercise on a Pilates mat
A suitable pad is important for your training. A Pilates mat should not be too thin to avoid damaging your back and joints. A purchase is therefore always a good idea. You can find detailed information about various products here: “Pilates mat – the right base for Pilates training” .
In addition to a suitable mat, experts also use small bones specially developed for Pilates training, which help to improve fine motor skills, coordination and perception for your own body and intensify the training.
The most common Pilates small devices are balls, the Pilates ring and the Pilates roller.
A Pilates role can increase the intensity of individual exercises and help to release stuck fascia
Exercises with the Pilates role primarily address the connective tissue and the fascia. With their help, glued fascia should be loosened and supple. It also ensures increased intensity in various exercises. You can find a detailed contribution to the Pilates role plus product recommendations in our article “Pilates role – the perfect training device” .
The Pilates ball is perfect for balance exercises and strengthens the deep muscles
A Pilates ball is also a worthwhile purchase to make your training more varied and intensive. It provides greater resistance, which puts more strain on the muscles. In addition, it is ideally suited to perform various balance exercises with it. The deep muscles are strained even more with its help, so you can count on quick training success. You will also find detailed information about this training device on our website, as well as Pilates Ball recommendations: “The Pilates Ball – Advantages, Tips on Buying and Many Exercises” .
The Pilates ring enables more variety and more intensive Pilates training
The same applies to the Pilates ring, it increases the strain on your muscles and extends your selection of exercises, which makes your training more intensive, effective and varied. Under the following link you will find information on our page “Pilates Ring – exercises, experiences and tests” .
In the following we have put together some Pilates videos for you, depending on your level of performance and your training goal. When training at home, always make sure it’s clean. To do this, you should always check your exercise execution yourself and compare it with that shown in the videos by good trainers.
Pilates warm up exercises
With Pilates, it is important that you concentrate fully on your body during the exercises. As already mentioned, Pilates is a whole body workout, in the center of which is the “Powerhouse” – your middle of the body. As a result, the deep muscles around your belly, back and pelvic floor are intensively stressed. It is important to do the exercises fluently and in combination with your breathing. Another special feature is that in addition to your muscles, you also train your body awareness and your mind.
Activate your “Powerhouse”, the center of every Pilates exercise! With the help of the following video, this works optimally. You will find a short warm-up program here. Prepare your body and mind for your subsequent Pilates training and use the time to bring the basics of Pilates back to mind.
Pilates exercises for the back
In the video linked by us you will find a great training session for a strong back and a flat stomach. The exercises are explained to you step by step and you can use the trainer to guide you through the execution.
The following exercise is particularly suitable for you if you suffer from pain in the lower back, because the abdominal muscles that strengthen and stretch the back are particularly stressed:
- Lie on your back. The legs are bent, the feet are hip-wide apart.
- Take a deep breath. As you exhale, you contract your stomach and pull your navel towards your spine (your powerhouse is activated).
- This should stretch your spine and your lower back should bend into the floor. Your spine now forms a line on the mat.
- The pelvis is slightly inclined so that your pubic bone is a little higher than your hip bones.
- The next time you inhale, raise your tailbone to the ceiling. First the hip rises, then the lower back and then the rest until you are only on your shoulders.
- As you exhale, roll yourself off very slowly and go back to the starting position.
- Repeat the exercise up to 5 times.
The swan – mobilization of the spine and strengthening of the abdominal and shoulder muscles
The Pilates exercise “Swan” addresses all the muscle groups that ensure that we have an upright posture.
- Lie on your stomach on the mat, the view goes down.
- Place your hands and forearms under your elbows with your arms close to your body. The shoulders point away from the ears, they pull back so to speak.
- You can do the exercise with your legs closed, or spread your hips apart.
- Activate your powerhouse again here and pull the navel towards the spine.
- As you breathe in, slowly roll yourself up. The hands and forearms press into the ground, you lift your chest up as far as possible, the gaze is forward, the neck remains long
- Your pelvis remains on the floor and is firm.
- Hold this position briefly and roll downwards bit by bit as you exhale to the starting position.
- Repeat the exercise 5 times.
Pilates exercises for the stomach
In this video you will be shown five effective and interesting Pilates exercises for a flat, firm stomach. This unit is for both beginners and advanced!
With this exercise you train your front and side abdominal muscles. It is important that the spine is kept neutral. This exercise should focus on your abdominal muscles, make your muscles work. Pay particular attention to the connection between your shoulders and your torso. Your shoulders are loose and away from your ears, they shouldn’t roll forward. It’s best to look at your belly so that it doesn’t bulge forward.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. The legs are hip-width apart, the knees point straight up and the feet forward. The arms are stretched towards the sky, the palms facing forward.
- Now you roll yourself up, vertebra by vertebra, and stretch your hands horizontally past the bottom. Your belly should work here. Be careful not to cramp your torso and keep your gaze forward
- Now the legs are stretched forward and the heels pressed together. The toes aim at one point. If you already have a lot of strength in your stomach, you can lower your legs a little further.
- Now you make a pumping movement (up and down) with your arms and that in a fifth rhythm. You also adjust your breathing. That means you exhale five pump movements and inhale five.
- You can do the exercise for as long as you like, but be careful to be there and not to overload your abdominal muscles.
The exercises shown in the following video specifically shape the lower body and quickly deliver convincing results. With this training session you ensure a slim waist and tight legs!
Single leg circles
With this exercise, you strengthen your oblique abdominal muscles and build stability in your torso. Your hip flexor is also activated and consciously controlled by you. You can do this exercise with both your legs straight and your legs bent. Your back should always remain on the mat during this exercise, the movement only comes from your hip. You should keep your pelvis neutral and your neck long.
- Lie down on the mat, your arms are on your side.
- Raise your right leg as high as you can. The back stays on the mat for a long time.
- Now you describe with your right leg a large circle across your body, down to the mat, then outwards and back up again (the circle goes inside out).
- Do 5 rounds and then switch legs.
- You can start the exercise with small circles and then slowly draw larger ones.
- At the first semicircle (the inside) you exhale, from the second half you breathe out.
Pilates exercises for beginners
With the video linked here you can do a great all-round training for a tight, slim figure as a newcomer. The exercises are perfectly coordinated, are first explained in detail and then implemented in a coherent flow.
FAQ Pilates exercises
Below you will find answers to a few questions that are repeatedly asked about Pilates exercises.
Are there basic Pilates exercises that you should master?
Unlike yoga or aerobics, Pilates does not actually have THE basic exercises. Pilates lessons and videos mostly consist of very individually arranged exercises. Of course, some exercises occur again and again.
Is it possible to lose fat at the same time in Pilates muscle building?
Many want to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. With bodybuilding, where it is about the correct muscle mass building, there is the old wisdom “mass you build up only with mass”. That means to get a significant muscle gain you have to eat a lot in parallel to the intensive training and gain weight first. Bodybuilders later compensate for this in special phases where they try to maintain their muscle mass and significantly accelerate fat loss through sophisticated diets.
It’s different with Pilates. It has a high strength component and stimulates the metabolism and the cardiovascular system by stressing the whole body. This can accelerate fat loss and increase muscle mass. The increase in musculature then in turn ensures a higher basic metabolism and this ensures further fat loss. Pilates primarily aims to strengthen the stabilizing muscles and improve posture. With Pilates, you will not achieve the muscle growth of bodybuilders. But your muscles will still be stronger and you can look defined with Pilates. It is important, of course, that you consume enough protein in your diet so that your muscles can grow.
Pilates and yoga are very similar. Both are about strengthening and stretching the muscles and improving posture and well-being. However, there are differences. These differences are not always clear, as there are many different forms, especially in yoga. Yoga exercises for beginners are usually characterized by the fact that they are held for a long time and carried out only once. Pilates exercises are rather fluent and repeat themselves.
Another big difference is the importance that the mind holds in many forms of yoga that are often more than a thousand years old. Yoga is very often about training the mind. Yoga and meditation have a smooth transition. An important tool for training the mind is breathing in both yoga and meditation. Yoga therefore has a very big focus on breathing. This is not so pronounced with Pilates.
Pilates or weight loss yoga – which is more effective?
That is hard to say. Because there are so many different forms of yoga, some are very intense and others, such as Yin Yoga , which is becoming increasingly popular, are very calm. Since Pilates usually consists of flowing exercises and many repetitions of these exercises, on average you may have a higher calorie turnover with Pilates.
Pilates or strength training?
Pilates is a systematic and effective workout for the whole body. With well-thought-out Pilates lessons or videos, you train your whole body and the exercises are designed so that agonists and antagonists are trained and thus avoid muscular imbalances.
With “correct” strength training , individual muscles are trained in a more isolated manner. This means that the stimulus to the individual muscle is stronger and it develops more strength more quickly. But this creates imbalances more easily by “forgetting” individual muscles.
Pilates and fascia training
Fascia training has been a major new training area for several years. Fasciae run through the body as a connective tissue-like network. They can stick due to one-sided loads, lack of movement or injury. This creates tension and pain.
The fascia can also be made supple and functional through Pilates exercises. The many gentle stretching and strengthening exercises with Pilates are excellent for this.
What is piloxing? Pilates and boxing
Piloxing is a combination of Pilates and boxing training with the aim of creating an intensive whole body training program, muscle building and fat loss.
As the video below shows, piloxing is very dynamic and – in our opinion – is much closer to boxing training than to Pilates. As a sweaty workout, piloxing is certainly a good thing that is a lot of fun – even at home with the help of a piloxing DVD .
Does Pilates help against back pain?
Pilates contains many exercises that use the deep core muscles. This is particularly important for a stable and painless back. Therefore it makes sense – if necessary after consultation with a doctor – to do Pilates exercises for back pain. If you already have back pain, it is extremely important to do the exercises properly in order to avoid incorrect loads.
Another very important factor is the fun you have while doing Pilates training in a group. This motivates you to stay tuned and to strengthen your core muscles in the long term.
Does Pilates help against stress?
Pilates consists of controlled exercises with a focus on breathing. With the controlled execution, the changing muscle tone can be observed very well, which has a calming effect. Along with controlled breathing, Pilates forces you to concentrate on performing your exercises. That helps to switch off from other things. In addition, any type of exercise by releasing hormones always has a positive effect on stress.
Pilates is great for training your muscles, shaping your body and improving your posture. According to the inventor, the first successes should be visible even after ten units. Your muscles between the chest and pelvis are particularly stressed. However, the exercises radiate to the entire body and since it is important for Pilates that body and mind form a unity, regular training also leads to mental strengthening. With or without aids, Pilates is a figure-shaping whole-body workout. It combines strength with mobility in a unique way. Another special feature is that the exercises are very variable and can be adapted to the individual anatomy, condition and objectives of each individual.