From dancers to footballers, it seems like everyone is using pilates to support their fitness programs. And for good reason- pilates is a great way to tone and condition your body all over, helping you look and feel longer, stronger and leaner. If you’re trying to lose weight, it can be useful to incorporate a few classes of pilates into your weekly fitness routine, combining it with cardio activities for the best results.
The basic principle of pilates is focusing on your core strength. By building up your core, you enhance all the little muscles in the body so that you are better able to support the larger ligaments, tendons and joints, as well as improving your posture and alignment. When your core is weak, your body compensates by taking strength from other muscles, which can lead to instability and injury.
The benefits include more muscle tone, increased strength and flexibility, and improved overall mobility and precision of movement. It’s also great for people who enjoy a meditative element in their exercise regimes- pilates takes a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, and the focus on breathing and stress release will help your mind to relax and your body to balance.
Pilates also forces you to pay closer attention to your body and to think about how you perform everyday movements. Heightened body awareness then improves your overall flexibility, strength and agility, and helps to ensure that your body is always working at its optimal level.
Here are some tips to get the best weight loss results from pilates…
Combine with cardio.
Combine pilates with some regular cardio activity, like running, walking, swimming or aerobics. A good plan is to alternate days between cardio training and pilates- the strength and fitness benefits of each will help you to perform the other more efficiently. Another good idea is to start each morning with just 15 mintutes to half an hour of pilates to get your body balanced for the rest of the day.
Mix it up
Vary your routine, so that you remain focused and challenge your body. Most classes will keep a similar routine so that you grow familiar with the movements, changing it around slightly every so often to make sure you get the best benefits. However, if you do find that your class is getting too repetitive, ask the instructor to show you a few different moves- or you might be able to move into a more intermediate level class. If you’re using a DVD, switch it around every so often- swap some with friends, or hire some out to save money.
Use equipment to add intensity to your routine. There are three types of pilates classes that most gyms will offer- regular mat pilates, which uses only your bodyweight to create resistance, classes that incorporate smaller equipment like rings, rollers, stability balls and bands, and reformer pilates, which uses a special machine with a pulley-system of adjustable resistance. Once you’ve mastered the basics of mat pilates, try moving up to some equipment-based classes to push yourself a little further.
You can also try moving at a faster pace once you’re familiar with the routines. Speeding up your workout will make you burn more calories. Just make sure that you maintain proper form while moving.
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