Pilates: How To Strengthen Your Back
Achieve a well-defined, beautiful back by following this Pilates workout four times a week. In just a month you will begin to notice a difference in how you look and feel. Get rid of those back aches and pains forever with the help of Pilates!
Step 1: You will need
- 1 exercise mat or thick towel
- some comfortable clothing
- 1 small towel - optional
Step 2: Exercise 1: Cat Stretch
Step 3: To prepare
Start by positioning yourself on all fours on your mat or towel. Adjust your hands so they rest directly under your shoulders and avoid overextending your elbows. Have your knees directly under your hips.
Have your spine in a neutral position. Your neck needs to follow this line naturally.
Step 4: Breathing
You will inhale deeply through the nose to prepare, aiming the breath towards the back of the rib cage and exhale deeply through the mouth.
When you exhale, think of flattening the abdominal region. Imagine gently pulling your belly button towards your spine.
This Pilates exercise will be performed in four breaths.
Step 5: The exercise
Inhale to prepare, then as you begin to exhale, pull in your lower abdominal muscles and curl the lower back, middle back and upper back towards the ceiling, relaxing your neck at the end. Picture an 'angry cat'.
Inhale and stay, then as you exhale, reverse the movement, articulating back from the neck, upper back, middle back and lower back, returning to neutral without losing the control in the abdominals.
Repeat this four times, always concentrating on curling up and down through the centre of the spine.
Step 6: Exercise 2: Opposite Arm and Leg Reaches
Step 7: To prepare
Stay in exactly the same position as in the cat stretch.
If your wrists are beginning to tire, relax for a few minutes and gently circle them round.
Step 8: Breathing
The breathing is the same as in the previous exercise, but here we will perform the movement in 2 breaths.
Step 9: The exercise
Inhale to prepare, then as you exhale lift the right hand and left knee off the floor, fully extending both out in opposite directions.
Inhale to return to all fours again, then exhale, and do the same on the other side.
Repeat this six times in total - three times each side.
Pay particular attention to the supporting arm and leg, not allowing them to collapse taking the body out of line.
Step 10: Exercise 3: Upper Back Extension
Step 11: To prepare
Change your position to lie face down on your mat. Have your feet and legs together and the tip of your nose lightly resting on the mat.
Place your hands either side of your shoulders, so that your elbows rest comfortably on the mat.
If you feel a lot of pressure on your lower back in this position, place a small towel just under your hip bones for support.
Step 12: Breathing
The breathing is the same as in the previous exercise but here it will be performed in four breaths.
Step 13: The exercise
Inhale to prepare, then as you exhale, draw your shoulders down on your back, keeping the neck in line and extend up off the floor.
Inhale and stay, thinking of lengthening forwards from your head, then exhale, to gently return back to the mat.
Repeat the same thing four times, concentrating on maintaining your abdominals firm throughout.
You will feel your upper back and shoulders working.
Step 14: Exercise 4: Forward Stretch
Step 15: To prepare
Change position to sit down with your legs with your legs in front of you, hip distance apart.
If you are uncomfortable like this then sit on a small towel or slightly bend your knees.
Step 16: Breathing
The breathing is the same as before, again in four breaths.
Step 17: The exercise
As you inhale, lift up your arms until they are parallel to the floor, palms in.
As you exhale, contract your abdominals and simultaneously curve your entire back away from your arms, relaxing you neck.
Inhale deeply h