Pilates 100s challenge every part of your core, said Daniela Caesar-Roden, a certified Pilates Teacher at Old School Pilates. Lifting your head engages your abs, pumping your arms and stabilizing engages your back muscles, and your pelvic floor and glutes are working to support your legs. "The focus on breath throughout this exercise engages the diaphragm, which stabilizes the core from the inside out, especially on the deep exhalations," added Daniela.
- Start lying on your back with your legs in tabletop position (hips and knees at right angles). Engage your deep abs to round your lower spine into the floor. Make sure you are not "pooching" your abs, which means you are just working the top layer of abs, which is a Pilates no-no.
- Exhale and lift your upper back off the floor, until the bottom tips of your shoulder blades skim the floor. Straighten your legs to a 45-degree angle (but make sure your low back is staying connected to the floor). Reach your arms toward your feet. Your arms will be about two inches off the floor.
- Pump your arms up and down with a small range of motion, keeping your elbows straight. Inhale for five arm pumps, and exhale for five pumps. That completes one set or cycle. Over time, work your way up to 10 cycles.