In Pilates, participants are challenged to use their body weight to strengthen and tone muscles. To increase resistance, some people choose to use resistance bands. These elastic bands can be looped around the feet, legs, arms or torso to add a higher level of fitness. Pilates band exercises can be used to tone nearly any body part.
Begin in a standing position with the resistance band looped around the left foot. Position the center of the band directly under your foot and hold the ends of the bands in your hands. Carefully move into a kneeling position, distributing your weight evenly among your hands and knees. The resistance band should still be looped around the bottom of your left foot. Lift the left knee slightly off the floor and extend the left leg behind you. As you kick backward, keep the foot flexed to stretch the resistance band behind you. Keep your core muscles held tight and the hip rotated toward your center. As you inhale, gently pull the knee back toward you. On an exhale, extend the leg behind you again. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then switch to the right leg.
Thighs & Buttocks
To work your buttocks and thighs, begin by sitting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Wrap the Pilates band over the top of your legs, passing the ends over one another under your thighs. This motion should create an "X" shape under your hamstrings. Grasp the ends of the bands in each hand. Tighten your core muscles as you bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor. At this point, you should be balancing on your buttocks. Once you find your balance, push your legs out to the sides, stretching the resistance band. Once you reach your maximum stretch, slowly pull your legs back together. Repeat 10 to 15 times without lowering your feet back to the floor.
Shoulders & Back
Stand with your feet slightly staggered, shoulders-width apart. To achieve a staggered stance, the toes on your left foot should be in line with the heel of your right foot. Step on the resistance band with your left foot, holding the opposite end of the band with your left hand. Bend slightly at the knees and bend forward to a 45-degree angle. Place your right hand on your right thigh as you extend your left arm in front of you to shoulder-height. Hold for two seconds, then pull your arm backwards until your hand is near your shoulder. After 10 to 15 repetitions, switch to the other side to work your right shoulder.
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