Pilates Small Ball Exercises
Into the Exercise (positive lift)
Step 1: Holding dumbbells at your sides, stand with your feet a shoulder length apart and your toes pointed outward. Lift your chest and inhale deeply, then flex your abdominal muscles and curl your toes upward.
Steps 2, 3, & 4: In a continuous motion, without moving your elbows backward, lift the dumbbells parallel to each other until they are at chin level, then rotate your arms backward.
Steps 5, 6, & 7: Squat without bending forward or raising your heels. While in the squat position, press the dumbbells above your head until your elbows lock. Then immediately stand up straight.
Out of the Exercise (negative lift):
Steps 8, 9, 10, & 11: In a continuous movement, lower the dumbbells to chin level; rotate your arms forward; and lower your arms to the starting position without moving your elbows backward.
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Then exhale as you relax your abdominal muscles and uncurl your toes.
Timing & Repetition.
The total movement should take at least 9 seconds: 2 seconds for the inhale; 1 second for the squat; 1 second for the press; 1 second for standing up; 2 seconds for lowering the dumbbells; and 2 seconds for the exhale and release. Repeat the exercise 6 times, which should take at least 54 seconds.
This exercise has three purposes. First, it will strengthen your thigh, buttock, lower back, and deltoid muscles. Second, it will improve the flexibility of your ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, and wrists. Third, it will enhance your posture and balance by forcing your spine to arch backward throughout the exercise.
Levels of Difficulty.
Level 1: Perform steps 1-4, 5d (squatting slightly), and 6-11.
Level 2: Using a low table or bench, perform steps 1-4, 5c, and 6-11.
Level 3: Using a low table or bench, perform steps 1-4, 5b, and 6-11.
Level 4: Using a low table or bench, perform steps 1-4, 5a, and 6-11.
Level 5: Perform steps 1-11.