In the old days, it was all about exercise; you would carry weights and do cardio workouts to get the dream body you’ve always wanted. But as time passed by, different kind of practices began to surface, and one of them was Pilates.
Being an all-time favorite among women who want to get their body toned, there are more than a few reasons why men should start doing Pilates. With health benefits that go beyond strength training, there are five legit ways in which men can gain substantial muscle mass through Pilates.
Read more to find out why this practice provides the missing link to your workout routines.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercises which focuses on strengthening your body’s core which involves the abdomen, the lower back, the thighs, and the obliques.Tweet This!
Pilates is a form of exercises which focuses on strengthening your body's core which involves the abdomen, the lower back, the thighs, and the obliques. It makes use of specialized equipment to build endurance and flexibility along these areas.
Unlike traditional exercises, Pilates focuses on balance which makes it similar to yoga. It is not like those high-intensity workouts that pump your body for short periods of time either. Think about it as more controlled form of exercise that requires both your mind and your body to work together to get the most optimal results.
History of Pilates
Developed by the German-born Joseph Pilates, this fitness method was designed to unify the mind and body connection. Joseph, who believed that both mind and body are interrelated, made a goal throughout his physical training to develop a form of exercise where the mental and physical body would come more into focus.
Inspired by his gymnast father, he believed that when done correctly, Pilates as a physical system will help improve body alignment and balance. The equipment, which he called “apparatus” is therefore supposed to aid in the conditioning, strengthening, and stretching of the muscles around the core.
Benefits of Pilates
You might feel like visiting your physiotherapist before starting Pilates, but before doing that, you need to find out more about the benefits that can be brought to your life by this practice.
Here are some well-informed, scientifically validated results:
- It relieves back pains
Back pain is an increasing problem that occurs in many people. A lot of office seats aren’t ergonomic, and a lot of human activities reinforce lousy posture which can ultimately lead to back pains. When you take Pilates for a minimum of four weeks, the tight muscles of your lower back will start to relax, and this will lessen the discomfort you feel.
- It improves balance
Most Pilates exercises require you to focus on your balance because if you don’t, you might fall off (literally!). Aside from stability training, the activities you’ll perform will help you be more self-aware of how your brain and body communicate in order to achieve the right posture and balance during training.
- It strengthens your core
One of the more common benefits of Pilates is strengthening the core. Since the focus of Pilates is in this area, there is no doubt that it will push your core muscles to the limit. And it will also help in sculpting abs.
- It reinforces proper posture
Lastly (although there are a lot more benefits to Pilates than these four), Pilates reinforces proper posture. The routine exercises will target specific muscles, and you will regain not only strength and balance but your posture will significantly improve for the better.
Pilates Exercises that Build Muscle
There is a misconception that Pilates is only for women, but this is far from the truth. Some men think that Pilates is just another way to do stretches, but in reality, these controlled stretches require more than just moving your limbs.
Women are not the only ones who need to strengthen their muscles and build their core either. Pilates also benefits that men who want to achieve excellent muscle condition. If you find yourself drawn to Pilates but don’t know how to start, you can try these five exercises that will help build your muscles.
Back extensions are an excellent start for men who want to warm up their muscles. This exercise focuses on extending your spinal cord to release the tension from the bones and muscles. First, start by lying flat on your belly. As you gently raise your legs and your head forming an upward C, focus on your abdomen.
Bicycle crunches, which is considered one of the most challenging muscle exercises in Pilates, is another type of activity that strengthens your core. You start this practice with your back lying on the mat. Place your hands at the back of your head. Positioning your hands like this will help you raise your head to meet your knees. Then lift both your legs and start by moving one knee towards the middle of your core while the opposite elbow meets your knee.
The supine twist is a great exercise to further challenge your core and at the same time stretch out your spine. To do this, lie on a mat with your hands on your sides facing upward. Then, raise your legs to form a right angle with the floor. You can also lift them towards your chest and wrap your arms around it.
Leg changes work out your abdomen more than your thighs. Start by raising your legs in a 90-degree angle to the floor. Slowly bring down one leg until your feet touch the mat and bring it up after a few seconds. Repeat the movement with the other leg.
For a full workout of your core, you can try ball rolls. As the name suggests, you will have to curl up into a ball until your knees reach your forehand. Start by lying flat on your back with your stomach tucked in. Slowly bring your knees to your chest with your arms hugging your legs. Continue moving your knees toward to your forehead with your tailbone curling up.
Pilates is highly beneficial for both men and women. However, to see the benefits of this exercise, you have to do at least four weeks’ worth of Pilates sessions. For other tips and health recommendations, it is advisable to ask your physical therapist for exercises that can improve your overall health.
About the author: Melanie of Capital Physiotherapy
Melanie graduated with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. During her degree, she obtained clinical experience throughout the public and private systems. Melanie has completed all levels of Mat clinical Pilates from APPI (Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute). She is one of the physiotherapists at Capital Physiotherapy.