Ahhhhh, summer. The days are longer, the sun is beating down, and it’s finally time to get the short shorts out of storage and shake off some of that extra winter padding.
If last winter has left you feeling more squishy than svelte, Pilates could be a great exercise to help strengthen the core, tone up the total body, and improve posture, making you look longer and leaner. By adding in cardio, you get an amazing multi-tasking workout that elevates the heart rate to increase fat burn. Plus, the best part of this workout is that you can take it with you anywhere; all you need is fifteen minutes and enough space to roll out a mat.
Start your day with this routine, and you will be feeling like a strong, energetic superhuman in no time!
Plank Inchworm With Mountain Climbers
Start from a standing position at the back of your mat, feet about hip distance apart. Keep the core activated as you draw the naval toward the spine and walk hands down your legs and forward until you reach a plank position. Try not to swing the hips too much as you crawl in and out—imagine that you have a tray of cold drinks on your back that you don’t want to spill.
When you’re starting off, you can take a wider stance with the feet to help control this motion. Once you’ve reached a plank position draw one knee in to the chest, maintaining a flat back, shoulders and hips in line, and shoulders stacked over wrists.
Run it fast to really get the heart pumping. Once you’ve completed ten reps (five with each leg), walk the hands back toward the feet and roll back up to standing. Complete ten reps total.
Quadruped Glute Rainbow
Start from a quadruped position with shoulders stacked over wrists and hips over knees, spine in neutral.
Actively engage the core by drawing the naval up and away from the floor. (A good image to help with this is a rope tied around your waist pulling you up to the ceiling.) Extend your right leg long behind you with toes pointed and touch it to the floor on the right edge of your mat.
Inhale, and, as you exhale, lift the leg in an arc with the highest point above the line of the hips, touching toes down to the left edge of your mat.
Again, you can imagine balancing a tray of cold drinks on your back to fire up the core and increase the overall efficiency of the exercise.
Perform thirty reps with the right leg and then repeat with the left.
Tricep Dip With March
From a modified reverse plank position, with shoulders stacked over wrists and fingertips pointing forward and knees bent at 90 degrees, bend your elbows, lowering the butt to quickly touch the floor.
Each time you dip, draw one knee into your chest to engage the lower abs and glutes and increase the aerobic value of the exercise. Complete thirty reps, alternating legs for the knee-in, and taking quick breaks after each ten reps if necessary to maintain proper form.
Side Plank Leg Lift and Pulse
Start from a modified side plank on the left forearm, elbow underneath shoulder with forearm parallel to the edge of the mat. Your chest should be open with both shoulders and hips stacked in a straight line.
Keep the bottom knee bent and extend the right leg, flexing the foot to push through the heel and keeping the foot in a horizontal line parallel to the floor. Engage the obliques to lift hips away from the mat. Keeping the hips off of the mat, lift and lower the right leg.
Complete twenty reps, then point the toes and pulse the right leg for twenty additional reps. Repeat on opposite side.
The Starfish Crunch is one of my all-time favorite moves to use as a finale in a Pilates routine because it fires up the abs, gets the heart pumping, and is just so fun and playful.
Start from a supine position, naval drawing in and lower back pinned to the mat with legs and arms extended long and lifted off the mat in a ‘starfish’ position. Inhale, then engage the abs as you exhale, curling up into a seated position, balancing on the tailbone and drawing the knees into the chest. Then, lower back down to the mat extending legs and arms long again and returning to the starting position.
Complete twenty reps in total.
For more tips on how to get lean and toned for summer, check out these other great routines:
Credit Image: Sarah Reinbold