Happy Friday, everyone! What are your weekend plans? Tonight Ryan and I are seeing Captain America: Civil War at one of those fun small theaters with a bar and restaurant built in. The perfect way to finish off a long run day!
I talk ad nausem about how beneficial I believe Pilates is for runners (if you have not already, read this post on the benefits of Pilates for athletes and this post on Pilates vs yoga for runners), but I’ve never shared a Pilates workout on the blog. Well, today I have a Pilates style core workout for you to try!
I say “Pilates style” because this core workout is not a traditional Pilates routine. In a Pilates class, you begin with a certain flow of exercises to boost circulation, warm up your core, and stretch your spine before performing one set of various exercises working your core across the different planes of motions for 3-8 reps each before finishing with a few spine-lengthening cool down exercises.
While not a traditional Pilates mat routine, this Pilates style core workout does offer the numerous benefits of Pilates for runners, including strengthening your core and kinetic chain, improving your posture for better running form, and lengthening your spine (which can be compressed when running long distances). I always feel shorter after a long run, and I swear that Pilates returns me to my normal height and keeps my hips, spine, everything aligned during tough weeks of training.
I recommend doing this workout on your rest days or after a run. Before a run will fatigue your core and you won’t receive the same de-compressing benefits for your spine.
Pilates Style Core Workout:
Complete these 5 exercises for a total of 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Perform the exercises continuously and take a 30 second break between each set.
As with any Pilates practice, keep your abs engaged and scooped (imagine pulling your navel in towards your spine and hollowing out your stomach), your back straight and flat on the floor (if applicable), and your shoulders down and engaged. Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, and focus on keeping your navel pulled in even on the exhale – this is tricky but works those deep stability muscles in your core!
Teaser: Anyone who has done mat Pilates will love to hate this exercise. Begin lying flat on a mat with your body in a straight line from your head to your toes. Extend your arms straight by your head so your elbows are near your ears. Inhale and lift your torso and your straight legs up at the same time, so you are balanced on your lower back and hips with your arms now reaching towards your legs (similar to a boat pose in yoga or a V-up). Hold for a couple seconds, then exhale and raise your arms up overhead and slowly lower back down, aiming to have your head and feet touch the floor at the same time. That’s one rep. Too hard? Bend your knees as you come up. (For visual form cues, watch this video).
Bridge: Lie on the mat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor near your butt, and your hands by your sides. Engage your core and push your hips up while squeezing your glutes, so that you form a straight diagonal line from your knees to through your hips to your shoulders. Be sure to keep your hips level. Keep your shoulders down from your ears. Slowly lower back down and repeat. For a harder variation, raise one leg in the air.
Side Bend: Sit on the ground as if you are preparing to go into a side plank, with your legs out to one side, slightly bent, and your hand on the ground, arm beneath your shoulder. Inhale and raise up into a straight side plank, driving your hips up towards the sky. Extend your top arm overhead, elbow by your ear, and bend a bit at your waist, as if you were trying to touch the ground by the top of your head while remaining in a side plank. Exhale and lower down to complete one rep. (See here for further form cues).
Side Lying Leg Lifts: Lie on your side with your shoulders stacked, hips stacked, and core engaged. You can prop your head up in your hand or rest it on your arm. Your legs should be out in front of you at approximately a 45 degree angle, so that if you were lined up against one edge of a mat, your feet would be on the other side. Keep your bottom foot flex. Point your top foot and slowly raise that leg up, pause, flex your foot, and slowly lower down to complete one rep.
Swimming: Lie on your stomach on the mat with your arms and legs extended straight out. Pull your navel up and into your spine as if there was something between your stomach and the mat. Raise your chest and legs up off the mat. Raise your left arm and right leg up further as you inhale, then switch and raise your right arm and left leg up as you exhale to complete one rep. Be sure to keep your shoulders down and away from your ears. (See here for a visual).
This Pilates style core workout will strength your upper and lower back, external and internal obliques, transverse and rectus abdominis (“ab” muscles), glutes, hips, and hamstrings. Plus, you can do this whole workout from the comfort of your own living room – all you need is a mat or a soft surface!
Linking up for Fitness, Health, and Happiness!
What are your plans this weekend?
What’s the last movie you saw in theaters?
What’s your current favorite core exercise?
Does anyone else feel shorter after a long or hard run? Just me?