Every top athlete is going to be slightly secretive about the techniques they use within their training program. But I’ll let you into a small secret. Most of sports top performers including Olympians incorporate Pilates as part of their training.
Think about it. They need strength, balance, stamina and of course precise control of their bodies to achieve their ultimate peak fitness. Pilates of course makes the perfect fit. It’s not just about lifting the heaviest weights, or running the fastest during training. To get to peak performance you need to be aware of how your mind works in synergy with your muscles and overall body mechanics.
Pilates was originally formed as a mix of gymnastics, bodybuilding and yoga. Each one of these disciplines incorporates strong will and a strong connection to mind/body workings.
Here’s the great news. You don’t need to be a top athlete or Olympian to practice Pilates and you can achieve the exact power over your body if you practice regularly.
If the excitement of this year’s Olympics has inspired you to get fitter then I would definitely recommend beginning with some Pilates exercises. If you decide that you’d like to train for a ½ marathon then you need to build strength into your muscles as well as stamina. If you decide that you simply want to be a bit more ‘bendy’ after seeing the gymnastics then again, Pilates will increase your flexibility and movement around each joint.
Here are 3 easy exercises to get you started:
Increase your flexibility:
Lie on your back with both knees bent. Take a deep breath in, then peel your spine off the floor and imagine it being like a bicycle chain, continuing until you reach your shoulder blades. Keep your tummy pulled in. Take a deep breath in at the top, then peel back down trying to get each of your backbones to move as independently as you can until you come back down to the floor.
Increase your strength:
On all 4s, lift your right leg out behind you and your left arm out in front. Now make sure your back is flat and your tummy is held in. Hold this position for a count of 10 as you breath really deeply and slowly, then lower and repeat on the opposite side. If you are strong enough then you could hold a light weight to get your upper back to work a little harder.
Increase your stamina:
Set yourself up into a full press up position. Make sure your back isn’t dipped and pull your stomach muscles in tight. Now lift your right elbow up towards the sky keeping your hand close to your side then quickly repeat with your left elbow. Do as many repetitions as you can for 1 minute. Build this up to 2 minutes, then 3. If you need to make this a little easier then drop your knees to the floor as you perform this.
Let’s give a big cheer to Team GB – perhaps this could be you in 4 years time???