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Skip the Studio: 4 Pilates Moves to Do At Home

Pilates is a perfect way to add muscle without bulking up. (Photo courtesy Brooke Siler)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Want to know the secret to staying long and lean in Hollywood? It's not tons of cardio, it's Pilates.  Celebs like Emma Stone, Mila Kunis and Reese Witherspoon credit the method as a way to sculpt muscles and improve flexibility.

Most of us, however, don’t have the luxury of daily sessions, so we turned to Pilates guru Brooke Siler to see how we could modify some of the core Pilates moves into at-home versions. Siler, a certified Pilates instructor and owner of NYC’s re:AB Pilates studio, shows us how to tone the entire body while using items you can find around the house.

Just make sure to follow these three rules to really reap the better body benefits:

1. Abs remain drawn inward and upward (like zipping up tight jeans) throughout all movements.
2. Inhale on exertion, exhale on release (abs remain ‘hollow’ throughout).
3. Make movements as long as possible, as if stretching further with each move, so that the focus is on the eccentric muscular contraction.

Read on to get Siler's at-home Pilates routine.

Ab Roller
What it works:  Abs, glutes, butt, hamstrings, thighs
What you’ll need: A mat or towel and a rolling desk chair.
How to do it: Kneel on the mat or folded towel and place your forearms on the chair seat about shoulder width apart. Squeezing your legs together tightly, slowly roll the chair away from your body and then roll it back. Try to do 3 sets of 10.
Progression: Deepen your ab work by working your hamstrings, too. Lift your feet off the floor and flex them so that your heels are close to your butt. Keep your knees and feet squeezing together tightly and repeat the rolling move from above.

Rolling Hamstring Curl
What it works: Abs, glutes, butt, hamstrings, thighs
What you’ll need: A mat or towel and a rolling desk chair.
How to do it: Lie on your back on the mat or towel and place your heels on the chair seat. Arms long by your sides and squeezing your legs together tightly, slowly roll the chair away from your body and then roll it back. Do 3 sets of 10.
Progression: Deepen your hamstring engagement. Lift your butt off the floor and flex your feet. Keep your knees and feet squeezing together tightly and repeat the rolling move from above.
Bum Buster
What it works: Glutes, butt, hamstrings, thighs
What you’ll need: A mat or towel and a big sack of rice (a heavy sofa cushion could also work).
How to do it: Lie face down on your mat or towel and place the rice sack or sofa cushion on top of your calves. With your forehead resting on the backs of your hands, lift thighs off the mat and keep legs straight. Do 3 sets of 10.
Progression: Deepen your hamstring and glute work by moving the sack or cushion up to rest on the backs of your thighs. Repeat the moves from above.

Jug-Hug De-Jiggler
What it works: Shoulders and arms
What you’ll need: 2 1-quart milk jugs filled with water to whatever weight suits your body.
How to do it: Stand tall with legs squeezing together tightly from heels to inner thighs. Holding jugs by their handles lift them up to shoulder height with arms in front of chest. Inhale as you slowly open arms wide to your sides (do not go behind shoulders) and exhale as you slowly bring them back together. Do 5 sets and then switch the breath, exhaling as you open and inhaling as you close arms for 5 more sets.
Progression: Gallon jugs! Again, only fill to a weight that suits you.

More from FITNESS: Pilates Moves to Lose the Ab Flab

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