Is anyone else as excited for spring as I am? This means dress and tank top season is upon us! Most of you know that I have been super into Pilates since becoming a certified comprehensive Pilates instructor a year ago and not only has it made all of my aches and pains vanish but my arms, legs and abs have never looked better. I understand that Pilates can be really expensive, and difficult to do on a regular basis, so I have created a workout for you to do at home, on your own, with just a stability ball. These exercises are just as hard, if not harder, than the moves you will find in a Pilates class. Go through this set from start to finish, spending 1 minute on each exercise (if it is an exercise that involves training both sides then split that move into 30 seconds a side) and get your arms, legs and abs toned and ready for the sunny days ahead. A video for all these exercises is at the bottom of this post.
This exercise targets your abs and your legs. Lie on a mat with your feet on a ball and your hands behind your head. Curl your upper body towards your thighs and while holding the curl, bend your knees and pull the ball towards you, then push it away. Try to use your abs to pull the ball in and your hamstrings to push the ball away. You can play with your foot position during this exercise, switching from parallel feet apart, to parallel feet together to a “v” with your heels together, toes apart, as well as the direction of the curl and using one leg or two legs to roll the ball.
Bridge Roll Ups
Another exercise to target your abs, legs and glutes. Start with your feet on the ball, knees bent and your spine flat on a mat. You can have your arms straight by your side (easiest), elbows on the floor (moderate) or your arms straight, hands to the ceiling (advanced). Press firmly into the ball with your feet and roll your spine off your mat one vertebrae at a time. Think about tucking your butt under as you draw your abs in tight as if you are trying to pull your pelvis up the front of your body. Roll to the bottom of your shoulder blades, then roll down one vertebrae at a time, focusing on keeping the ball still. To increase the difficulty you can add a hamstring curl after each roll up.
This exercise will target your abs while strengthening and stretching your spine. If you are a beginner then you will do this movement with your knees bent, feet on the floor, but if you are up for the challenge, lie flat on your back with your legs extended out straight. Reach the ball overhead and take a big breath in as you raise your arms to the ceiling, nod your chin and roll up one vertebrae at a time, reaching the ball towards your toes. Once you are all the way up, sit tall and roll back down, placing each vertebrae one at a time until you are resting on your back with your arms stretched behind you.
This is a classic Pilates exercise. Place your feet on the ball, knees bent (beginner) straight (moderate) or put the ball between your legs and hold them out straight (advanced). Curl your upper body, arms straight and hands turned towards the floor while pulsing your arms as if you were moving them through thick cement. Keep your abdominals tight and your eyes looking forward.
Ball roll outs
This exercise is a killer, as long as you’re doing it right. I can’t stress enough to start this movement small and as you become stronger make the movements larger. Start on your knees, hips under your shoulders and your hands outstretched on a ball. Begin by pressing your body forward from the hips while reaching your arms away from you. ONLY GO AS FAR AS YOU CAN KEEP YOUR BACK STRAIGHT. The hard work comes when you pull your arms back in to raise yourself up while keeping your hips under your shoulders. Start small and then reach further as you become stronger.
Side Laying Glutes
This exercises works your glutes and trust me - it is hard! Begin kneeling with the ball pressed up to your left hip. Extend your right leg straight then lean over the ball, placing your left elbow on the ball, and right hand behind your head. Raise your right leg as high as you can while keeping your hips still for 15 seconds, then circle the leg clockwise for 15 seconds, counter clockwise for 15 seconds then swing it forward and back for 15 seconds. Repeat the same sequence on the other side.
Side Plank (advanced)
Begin on your right side with your right elbow on a mat and your shoulder over your elbow. Place the ball between your ankles, squeezing it tight and lift your hips up by engaging your obliques and glutes. Place your left hand behind your head and rotate your rib cages forward and back without allowing your hips to move. Repeat for 30 seconds on one side and then 30 on the other.
Straight Arm Plank
Begin by placing your hands on a ball, with straight arms, in a plank position. Squeeze the ball tight between your hands and slowly roll it away from you, lifting one foot off the floor by squeezing your butt and hamstring (keep the stabilizing leg strong). Pull the ball back in, lower your leg and then repeat on the other side. If you are a beginner, do this exercise without a ball and shift your weight forward while lifting one leg. You can also do it from your elbows.