6 Pilates-Inspired Moves to Get You Toned Up for Summer

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The Equipment-Free Solution for Your Summer Shape Up

Scissors
Pilates ProWorks

Who doesn't want to hit summer running with a healthy heart and strong, svelte body? Staying in tip-top shape through the cold, short months of winter isn't always easy, but as the weather warms up, you should start kicking your workouts into high gear.

 

The good news is, you don't need a gym membership to get nice and sweaty. All you need is this six-move Pilates-inspired sequence of exercises put together by Pilates ProWorks instructor, Peter Bartesch. Pilates ProWorks® is a fitness concept centered on Pilates – with a modern, innovative twist – that tones and strengthens body, mind, and spirit. Using a combination of custom machinery and a wide range of upbeat classes that fuse Pilates with everything from Barre to yoga to boxing, participants achieve healthy results without the pain or harm of high-impact workouts. 

These workouts are designed to hit all the "trouble spots," legs, core, shoulders and triceps, while raising your heart rate as you perform the exercises in a continuous circuit

Try the exercises in any one of the following four workout formats and keep reading for instructions for each exercise.

Workout #1: Glute Killer

Repeat the full circuit six times through for a 41-minute routine, including rest periods.

  • 60 seconds single-leg step ups, right leg
  • 30 seconds high plank to low plank
  • 60 seconds single-leg step ups, left leg
  • 30 seconds scissors
  • 60 seconds skaters
  • 30 seconds knee to elbow planks
  • 60 seconds skaters
  • 30 seconds teasers
  • Rest 60 seconds and continue

Workout #2: Core Tightener

Repeat the full circuit five times through for a 39-minute workout, including rest periods.

  • 30 seconds knee to elbow planks
  • 30 seconds high plank to low plank
  • 60 seconds step ups, left leg
  • 30 seconds teasers
  • 30 seconds scissors
  • 60 seconds step ups, right leg
  • 30 seconds knee to elbow planks
  • 30 seconds high plank to low plank
  • 60 seconds skaters
  • 30 seconds teasers
  • 30 seconds scissors
  • Rest 60 seconds and continue

Workout #3: Straight Circuit

As simple as can be, perform each exercise for one minute, as described. Repeat the circuit four times through for a 27 minute workout, including rest periods.

  • 30 seconds step ups, right leg; 30 seconds step ups, left leg
  • 60 seconds knee to elbow planks
  • 60 seconds scissors
  • 60 seconds skaters
  • 60 seconds high plank to low plank
  • 60 seconds teasers
  • Rest 60 seconds and continue

Workout #4: Tabatas

Tabatas are a form of interval training, where you cycle through eight rounds of intervals with 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest per interval. Each Tabata lasts a total of four minutes. For these Tabatas, you'll alternate back and forth between two exercises for each Tabata, performing each exercise a total of four times per Tabata. You'll perform four Tabatas with one minute rest between each Tabata for a total workout time of 19 minutes, including rest.

  • Tabata #1: Alternate between right leg step ups and high plank to low plank
  • Tabata #2: Alternate between left leg step ups and scissors
  • Tabata #3: Alternate between skaters and knee to elbow planks
  • Tabata #4: Alternate between skaters and teasers

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Knee to Elbow Planks

Knee to Elbow Planks
Pilates ProWorks

This exercise utilizes the deep core muscles of the transverse abdominis, while also offering the "crunching" required to fire up the rectus abdominis that provides "six pack" definition.

  • Start in a plank position.
  • Draw one knee to touch your same-side elbow. Pause and hold this position for a breath before tracing your knee up your triceps towards your armpit.
  • Extend your leg and return your foot to the ground.
  • Repeat on the opposite side. 

The key to this move is to achieve the static hold and the crunching exercise while keeping your legs, back and arms firm. 

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Single Leg Step-Ups

Step Ups
Pilates ProWorks

Squats are considered one of the holy grails of fitness, and a single-leg step-up focused on the downward phase of the exercise is just icing on the cake.

  • Start standing on top of a box, high step or bench.
  • Shift all your weight onto one foot and lift your opposite foot. Lift your chest and tighten your core, extending through your torso. Maintaining a tight core, begin leaning forward slightly.
  • Extend your lifted leg straight behind you as you bend your standing knee to 90-degrees. As you bend your supporting leg, keep your knee aligned with your toes with your weight in your heel so your weight is loaded in your glutes.
  • After touching your back foot to the ground, drive through your supporting heel and hips to return to standing.

By focusing on the negative phase of movement, you protect your joints and increase the time you spend  bearing weight, ultimately increasing strength and improve your balance.

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Pilates Scissors

Scissors
Pilates ProWorks

Strengthen your core and tighten your hips and thighs with the classic Pilates scissors move.

  • Start lying on the ground on your back, then extend your legs straight up from your hips.
  • Roll your shoulder blades up off the ground, but don't tuck your chin toward your chest - keep it lifted naturally.
  • Grab one calf and pull your leg toward you as you simultaneously lower your other leg towards the ground. Avoid drawing your shoulders up toward your ears.
  • Reverse the movement and repeat on the other side, before continuing.

When performing the exercise, focus on keeping your legs fully extended by engaging your quadriceps throughout the movement. Avoid hyperextending your knee to keep the stretch in your hamstrings, not down through your knee joint. As you improve your flexibility, try bringing your quads all the way into your chest with every scissor movement.

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Low Plank to High Plank

High to Low Planks
Pilates ProWorks

The traditional plank is one of the best ways to fire up the entirety of your core, from your hips to your shoulders, engaging the deep, stabilizing muscles of your abdomen and spine. This unique version of the plank, also adds an extra challenge for your upper body, particularly your triceps, chest and shoulders as you switch continuously from a high to low plank. 

  • Start in a plank position on your forearms, wrists aligned with elbows, elbows directly under shoulders.
  • Tighten your whole front body - your quads, hips, abdomen, chest and shoulders - and begin shifting all of your weight onto your palms as you press through your triceps and chest to lift both elbows off the ground into a high plank on your hands.
  • Reverse the movement and lower your elbows as slowly and softly as you can back to the starting position before continuing.

If you can’t lift both elbows off the ground at once, first press up onto one hand before moving to a full high-plank, then lower yourself back to start one forearm at a time. Remember to switch which hand you lead with when pressing up and down, one arm at a time.  Keep your hips as steady as possible, and avoid allowing your low back to sway. 

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Skaters

Skaters
Pilates ProWorks

Unlike the speed skater exercise, this movement is low impact, offering a more side lunge-like motion. You'll fire up all the muscles in your lower body - your quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes, while also engaging the abductor and adductor muscles of your inner and outer thighs. 

  • Spread your legs wider than shoulder-width apart, your toes parallel.
  • Without moving your feet, shift your weight to the right, squatting down as you press your hips back and keep your core tight. As you squat, straighten your left leg as you bend your right knee. Ultimately, your right hip and knee should be aligned, your right knee over your heel rather than your toes.
  • Remaining low, shift your weight to the left side, straightening your right leg. Continue cutting from side to side in a dynamic, smooth motion. 

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Teasers

Teasers
Pilates ProWorks

Another core-strengthening exercise, you'll want to keep your abdominals engaged throughout the Teasers move. Only sit up as high as you comfortably can without straining your low back or neck. If you need to, bend your knees slightly to make the exercise a bit easier to perform. 

  • Starting flat on your back, lift your legs 45 degrees off the ground, your knees fully extended, knees straight and inner thighs pulled together. Flatten your back, making sure your low back engages with the ground, and reach your arms forward, off the ground.
  • Keeping your legs stationary, tighten your core and roll your spine off the ground, one vertebrae at a time, reaching your hands towards your feet.
  • Once you've rolled all the way up off the ground, your body forming a "V" position, extend through your low back and sit up tall.
  • Take a few breaths at the top of the movement, relaxing your shoulders as your shoulder blades retract, sliding down your back.
  • Roll back down to the starting position, one vertebra at a time, taking time to resist gravity.

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