Friday, October 23, 2009

Pilates Push-Up and Grasshoppers??

The upper body can be a major weakness in women, and Pilates is a great way to tone and define the upper body. Pilates works all the muscles in the upper torso and arms, but I find it definitely tones and defines the deltoids, triceps, and chest beautifully. One of the many great exercises in Pilates is the push-up. The Pilates push-up is different from other techniques of push-ups for a couple main reasons. First, getting into the plank position you start standing and you end standing. Second, the elbows graze along the sides of your body instead of pointing outward east and west. THINK OF THE ARMS LOOKING AS IF THEY WERE GRASSHOPPER LEGS NEXT TO THE BODY.

To start this exercise:
1.Stand with arms overhead and your powerhouse engaged (draw your shoulders down your back, away from your ears).
2.Initiate from your powerhouse as you roll down until your hands touch the mat (or fingertips if you are working on your flexibility)!
3.Then, walk your hands out in four “steps” into plank position. Align yourself in one straight line, from the crown of your head to your heels. Hands should be directly under your shoulders.
4.After “walking out” into plank form, begin lowering yourself down to the floor with elbows grazing the sides of the body. Press yourself up. Wash, rinse, REPEAT!
5. To end your push ups, lift your hips up to the ceiling, round your head toward your knees, walk your hands back toward your feet in four “steps,” and initiate from your powerhouse to roll yourself to standing.

I like to end a good mat class with this exercise. My mat clients have learned to love these push-ups because the next words out of my mouth when they finish is “ Great job, YOUR’RE DONE!”

Benefits? The elbows tight into the sides of the body creates MORE TRICEP WORK, MORE BALANCE (think: less of a stabilized position with hands closer together), and MORE SHOULDER AND TORSO STABILIZATION...and its JUST PLAIN HARDER! Give it a try!
Want even more of a challenge? Try it while raising one leg, but don’t lift those hips while in plank position!

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