trainingWant a low-key, effective workout that encourages fat loss while creating a leaner, longer you?  Try a Pilates workout right in your own living room. Celebs, including Jennifer Aniston, Anna Pacquin and Miranda Kerr, all love a mat-based Pilates workout that increases strength and flexibility, while also improving posture — a trifecta that can lead to ultimate fat loss and a beautifully new, toned body. A 2009 study conducted at the University of Miami found that eight weeks of doing a regular Pilates workout led to fat loss and significant improvements in muscle mass.

Do your own Pilates workout at home at least twice per week, on nonconsecutive days. Just one set of eight to 10 repetitions of each move using an exercise mat and stability ball creates lean muscle and promotes fat loss.

7 Pilates Moves to Build a Lean Body and Helps Fat Loss

1666722071. The Hundred

The Hundred warms you up for any Pilates workout, and targets the external obliques (the abdominal muscles at the sides of your waist) 31 percent more effectively than a classic crunch.

WHAT TO DO: Lie on your back on the exercise mat and extend your legs out at a 45-degree angle with the floor. Stretch your arms alongside your body and three to four inches above the mat. Lift your head and shoulders as you pump your arms (as if you are splashing a pool of water). Inhale for five pumps and exhale for five pumps to complete one repetition.

HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER: Bend your knees at a 90 degree angle so your shins are parallel to the floor as you pump.

HOW TO MAKE IT MORE CHALLENGING: Hold a stability ball between your legs as you hold them in the air and you pump your arms.

Next: Roll-Up…

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2. Roll-Up

A quintessential Pilates workout move, the roll-up targets the front sheath of the abs 38 percent more effectively than classic crunches.

WHAT YOU DO: Lie on your mat face-up and extend your legs out flat out in front of you. Reach your arms overhead so your upper arms are up by your ears. Inhale and draw the arms up and in line with your chin as you roll up your head, neck and shoulders. Exhale and continue to roll up until you are seated upright, creating a letter “C” shape with your body. Keep your inner thighs squeezed together and avoid letting the legs “kick” off the mat as you roll. Inhale at the top of the movement and exhale your way back down, allowing each vertebra to hit the mat along the way.

HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER: Place a rolled-up towel under your lower back for support as you learn the move.

HOW TO MAKE IT MORE CHALLENGING: Hold a stability or medicine ball overhead throughout the exercise.

Next: Double-Leg Stretch…

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3. Double-Leg Stretch

No Pilates workout would be complete without the double-leg stretch. By providing a 103 percent greater activation of the obliques, you create more muscle to help boost your metabolism and encourage fat loss.

WHAT YOU DO: Lie on your back. Pull your knees into your chest, lift your head and shoulders and wrap your hands around your shins. Inhale and extend your legs and arms in opposite directions. Your arms should extend by your ears and your legs reach out at a 45-degree angle. Exhale and pull your knees back in toward your chest.

HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER: Place a firm pillow or medicine ball under your upper shoulders for support.

HOW TO MAKE IT MORE CHALLENGING: Keep your head and shoulders elevated throughout all the repetitions, or hold a medicine ball as you perform the movement.

Next: Criss Cross…

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4. Criss Cross

Adding the criss cross to your Pilates workout creates 310 percent more muscle activation of your external obliques when compared to the crunch, meaning more fat loss.

WHAT YOU DO: Lay on your back, lift your legs and bend your knees so the shins are parallel to the floor. Place your hands behind your head as you lift your head and shoulders up. Exhale and twist your upper body so the right shoulder goes toward the left knee as you extend your right leg out at a 45-degree angle. Repeat on the other side for one full repetition.

HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER:  Keep both knees bent and your shins parallel to the floor throughout the exercise.

HOW TO MAKE IT MORE CHALLENGING: Lift the entire back of your shoulders up off the mat as you perform the twists.

Next: Pilates Pushup…

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5. Pilates Push-up with jump

Add plyometrics, or jumping movements, to your Pilates workout to promote fat loss. This move is a cross between a Pilates pushup and a burpee.

WHAT TO DO: Stand at the back of your mat with your legs together, exhale, drop your head and begin to curl your body downwards, reaching your hands to the floor. Then walk your hands forward along the floor and bring your body into a pushup position. Bend your elbows to do a pushup, and then walk your hands back up towards your feet, and uncurl your body until you are standing again. Bend your knees into a squat and jump into the air. Then repeat the whole sequence again.

HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER: Do the pushup with your knees in the mat and skip the jump at the top.

HOW TO MAKE IT MORE CHALLENGING: Jump multiple times, always landing with bent knees, before going down for the pushup.

Next: Teaser…

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6. Teaser

With an ab-targeting effectiveness rating 266 percent greater than the crunch, teasers promote mega fat loss. According to Brooke Siler, author of the “Pilates Body,” this move is an all-time favorite in Pilates workouts.

WHAT TO DO: Lie on your back and extend your legs out at a 45-degree angle. Inhale and reach your arms overhead as you raise your head, neck and shoulders off the mat. Exhale and roll up, reaching your hands toward your toes to create a “V” shape with your body. Inhale and pause, then exhale and roll back down into the floor. Your legs remain at the 45-degree angle during the roll up and roll down phases.

HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER: Bend your knees and plant your feet in the mat as you roll up and down.

HOW TO MAKE IT MORE CHALLENGING: Hold the stability ball between your lower legs for this Pilates workout.

Next: Leg Circles on the Ball…

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7. Leg Circles on the Ball

Leg circles build muscle in the legs and hips to induce fat loss. This Pilates workout requires a stability ball.

WHAT TO DO: Lay on your mat, legs extended with your heels on the stability ball. Lift your hips up to create a bridge. Inhale, raise your right leg to a 90 degree angle and point the foot straight toward the ceiling. Exhale and inhale as you draw 10 small circles with your foot. Repeat in the opposite direction. Lower your hips for a few breaths, lift them back up and repeat the circles with the opposite leg.

HOW TO MAKE IT EASIER: Eliminate the ball and plant your feet in the mat as you bridge up.

HOW TO MAKE IT MORE CHALLENGING:  Keep your hips lifted until after you’ve finished all the reps on the right and the left sides.


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