Pilates exercises for a toned body

Pilates is one of the best forms of exercise for anyone who wants to achieve the sleek, toned and honed look.  The exercises work on strengthening and lengthening the muscles of your body and this in turn will give you a toned look that isn’t too muscular.

There are 2 types of Pilates exercise systems; the first is mat-based meaning that exercises are performed generally on the floor on a mat. This is the most common type of Pilates you will find in gym classes and is easy to do by yourself at home.

Other methods of Pilates use machines and if you want to try this type of Pilates you may need to locate a specialist studio that has the correct equipment.

Many people, both men and women, add Pilates exercises to their fitness regime to help improve the overall appearance of their bodies. The exercises focus on your core muscles, which are the deepest abdominal and back muscles. Strengthening these muscles will improve your overall posture.

Further exercises target the arms and legs to tone and lengthen the muscles. The whole system was devised to give your body a lean and sleek look similar to a dancer’s body.

Below are 3 basic Pilates exercises that will help beginners to tone their bodies.

Exercise 1 - The Hundred

This is a classic Pilates exercise that targets the abdominal muscles and is often used as a warm-up exercise.

  • Lie on your mat with your knees folded in to your chest
  • Extend your legs towards the ceiling
  • Press your lower back in towards the mat to engage your abdominal muscles
  • Stretch your arms out by your sides just above the mat
  • Lift your shoulder blades off the floor
  • Lower your legs so they are at a 45 degree angle
  • Pulse your arms up and down a couple of inches 10 times
  • Perform 10 sets of 10 arm pumps and you’ve completed the Pilates hundred

Exercise 2 – The Roll Up

The roll up targets your abdominal muscles and stretches out the hamstring muscles and the backs of the legs.

  • Lie on your mat and extend your legs
  • Extend your arms over your head
  • Lift your arms upwards and engage your abdominal muscles
  • Using your abs lift your shoulders off the mat and sit up
  • Lean forward extending your arms as far over your toes as possible
  • Roll back down slowly one vertebra at a time
  • Maintain the tension in your abs
  • Return to starting position - this equals 1 repetition
  • Perform 10 repetitions

Exercise 3 – The Spine Twist

The spine twist aids spine function and helps your body rotate from side to side.

  • Sit upright and extend your legs out in front of you
  • Keeping your legs together extend your arms out to the sides
  • Inhale and engage your abdominal muscles
  • As you exhale slowly twist as far as you can to the right
  • Keep your arms and shoulders extended
  • Return to the centre and repeat to the left side
  • Perform 10 repetitions