Pilates may be most commonly associated with building lean muscle and helping people get strong, but it’s also an amazing way to build endurance and prevent injury.
Since the method was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, it has grown in popularity among people looking to increase their flexibility, tone their muscles, and increase their energy levels.
If you’re just getting started with Pilates, or if you want to make sure you’re doing it right, here are three tips on how to get stronger and more efficient with the Pilates method.
What is Pilates?
Joseph Pilates, a German immigrant who built his own exercise system in New York City in the early 20th century, laid out six Pilates Principles that still underpin contemporary approaches to his exercise system. These principles—concentration, control, precision, breathing, flow and centering—are more than buzzwords: They describe how a person practicing Pilates should focus on proper technique. As any good Pilates instructor will tell you, if you can’t do something properly, you shouldn’t be doing it at all. The goal of every movement is for your body to move as one solid unit. If you can achieve perfect form while performing an exercise, then it is probably safe for your body and beneficial for your mind.
The Benefits of Pilates
In addition to losing weight, when paired with a balanced diet, Pilates helps us build core strength, become more flexible, increase blood flow and burn calories without feeling like we’re working out.
A study done by Columbia University found that people who practiced Pilates for 12 weeks had less body fat mass than before they started.
They also improved muscle strength in their abdomen, hips and backside. Pilates can be modified to accommodate different fitness levels—beginners can start slow and work up while those who are already fit can challenge themselves further. If you want to try it yourself, here are some of our favorite exercises from certified Pilates instructor Deena Kastor
Is It Suitable For Me?
Exercise can be a double-edged sword: On one hand, it burns calories, revs up your metabolism, makes you feel good about yourself and builds lean muscle. On the other hand, it’s time consuming, often boring and if done improperly or without routine can lead to injury. For most people, fitness should be a simple part of life—something that strengthens your body for daily activity without detracting from your quality of life. The best exercise is always going to be whatever you enjoy doing enough to do regularly, so think long and hard before committing to an exercise program that feels like work. If you don’t enjoy it, chances are you won’t stick with it.
Achieving Your Goals – What to Expect
When you’re just starting out, progress is not always evident. You may find that each week, you don’t feel much different from where you were last week. This can be frustrating if you’re working hard in your workouts or doing all of your exercises, but results don’t seem to be coming as quickly as you might expect. Give yourself time!
Improve Balance, Strength and Flexibility
As your Pilates training becomes more rigorous, you’ll be able to improve your balance, strength and flexibility by doing many of these exercises at home. As with any exercise regimen, it’s important to listen to your body. That means stopping or pausing if an exercise starts causing pain in your joints or muscles.
Be sure to get a good Pilates mat—or even better, spring for a set of less expensive mats that are just slightly smaller than what you need so they can fit into spaces in your home. You’ll want space between yourself and the floor during some exercises so remember that!
Getting Started – You Need a Mat!
Once you decide to give Pilates a try, your first step is finding a suitable mat. Look for one that offers stability and is large enough so you have plenty of room to move around freely while still being comfortable. You may also want one that’s long enough to fit your height and width comfortably. If you plan on working out at home regularly, it might be worth investing in a high-quality mat. However, if you only plan on doing occasional workouts, then simply purchase something of decent quality so it doesn’t fall apart quickly or take up too much space in your home.
Progressing – Stability, Strength and Control
Progression is key to continual fitness improvement. Workout programs should be planned to allow you to build upon your strength levels in order for you achieve optimum results. Set aside adequate time on a weekly basis for Pilates exercises, if possible daily; aim for a minimum of two sessions per week.
By increasing your exercise routine’s intensity and duration, you can make faster progress in attaining your fitness goals. For best results it is also recommended that you seek out qualified assistance from an experienced Pilates instructor or trainer familiar with corrective exercise protocols which can help speed up recovery from injuries, aches and pains whilst building strength and conditioning at the same time.
Common Mistakes That Prevent Success
One of the most common mistakes people make when beginning a routine is going all out from day one. Achieving success in any kind of physical training requires a gradual buildup of your endurance, strength, and flexibility—and if you’re just jumping right into things, you risk injury.
For example, marathon runners build up their capacity for running by gradually lengthening their workouts until they can comfortably run long distances.
Exercises for Beginners – The Hundred Exercise Series
If you’re looking for a place to start, a good way is by using The Hundred. It’s an exercise series created by Joseph Pilates that targets every muscle in your body (not just your abs!). It works well for beginners because you don’t need any equipment or much space, making it easy to do from home. The program is also great for people who are afraid of getting into working out at all—you can start small.