With summer just about a month away, it’s important to change up your workouts. Adding different equipment to your routine is a great way to tweak exercises to challenge your muscles differently. A small Pilates ball is a great tool to increase instability which will make the exercises harder and more challenging! Amazon has them for about $10 here. Another option is to use a volleyball or bounce ball instead (any ball that is soft and light will do).
First warm it up with these two exercises…
Step Backs with Backstroke
Targets chest, shoulders, core, glutes, and thighs (mainly front of the body).
- Stand tall holding the Pilates ball in your in your right hand.
- Step back with your left foot and keep your hips facing forward.
- Simultaneously circle your right arm back and keep your abs in tight.
- Feel a stretch through the front of the body, but avoid arching your back.
- Make harder by stepping back into a reverse lunge.
- Perform one minute on each side. Start slow, but speed up as successful – controlled speed.
Step Backs with Twist
Targets Back, Core, Chest, Shoulders, Hips, Thighs (mainly through core).
- Stand tall pressing the Pilates ball pressed between your hands at chest level.
- Shoulders are retracted and depressed.
- Step back with your left foot as you simultaneously rotate to the right.
- Bend your back knee and keep your chest lifted and open.
- Perform 1 minute rotating to the right, then repeat sequence on the other side.
Now you are ready to dig in to the workout…
1. Balance Knee to Diagonal Reach w/ Ball Transfer
Targets Core, Hips & Balance
- Stand tall while holding the Pilates ball in your right hand.
- Pull your right knee up and find your balance (find a focal point to focus on).
- Circle your right arm out to the side and up overhead.
- Simultaneously extend your right leg out to the side and tilt your body to the left.
- Transfer the ball to your left hand.
- Slowly raise back upright, lifting your knee back up as you circle your left arm out to the side and down behind you.
- Pass the ball to your right hand and repeat the sequence for 1 minute.
- Switch sides.
2. Pilates Ball Squat w/ 1 Arm Pulldown
Targets hips, thighs, core, and lats (mid back).
- Stand tall with the right foot pressed onto the Pilates ball.
- Push hips back into a squat as you bring your arms overhead (arms stay straight).
- Stay in the squat position and pulldown your right arm.
- Slightly rotate your torso to the right and keep your arms strong.
- Lift back up and reach your right arm back overhead.
- Repeat sequence on right side for one minute.
- Switch sides.
3. Pilates Ball Side Leg Lifts
Targets hips, core, and stabilizers of the shoulder.
- Lie on your side with the Pilates ball placed comfortably under your ribcage.
- Don’t sink into your bottom shoulder, press both shoulders back and down and keep your ribcage lifted.
- Your bottom leg can be bent for more stability, but your top leg needs to stay long (as straight as possible).
- Flex your top foot and either keep the toe pointing forward or down slightly.
- Slowly raise and lower your top leg about 5 inches.
- Stay lifted and tall in the upper body (no movement) and keep lengthening your top leg out away from you.
- You can also perform any of the side leg series exercises from my prior workout here. Just keep bottom leg bent.
4. Pilates Ball Bridge
Targets hips and core (mainly backside of the body).
- Place the Pilates ball under your sacrum ( low back – where your spine meets your pelvis) with your feet about hip width.
- Press your arms flat into the ground and extend your right leg out.
- Kick the right leg up into the air – focus on using your abs to lift your leg.
- Do a quick double beat kick at the top of the move, then lower the leg back down.
- For an added challenge, raise your arms up towards ceiling and simultaneously double beat the arms as you do the double beat kick, then lower the arms overhead.
- Abdominals in tight!
- Repeat 30 seconds to one minute with the right leg (and optional arms).
- Switch legs.
Finish off with a few flexibility exercises.
On Thursday, Part 2 will have 6 more abdominal exercises you can add to this routine to really get you ready for swimsuit season!