Even by Hollywood's standards, actress and dancer Jenna Dewan has an incredible body. The star, who does everything from running to yoga to dancing, frequently posts to Instagram showing off her fitness moves, giving us major #fitspo each time.
One of Dewan's favorite workouts is Pilates, and while most of us know the low-impact exercise is great for improving core strength, a recent post of Dewan's in which she is hanging upside down while doing the splits on a Reformer using her own body strength reminds us that it's also amazing for improving strength.
If you were thinking of finally trying out a Pilates class, here are a few reasons why it's a great way to tone and sculpt your body from head-to-toe.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a mind-body workout that that focuses on strengthening abdominal muscles -- otherwise known as the core or "powerhouse" in Pilates -- through tiny specific movements that also involves the back, legs, glutes, and arms.
Research has shown that the technique not only improves core and balance by engaging both the mind and body but also improves flexibility and athletic performance -- which Dewan obviously has in spades.
Is it a Strengthening Workout?
In short, yes. Any exercise that challenges your muscles will help your muscles become stronger.
The difference between traditional weightlifting and Pilates is how your strength will develop. In Pilates, rather than bulking up, you will stretch and elongate your muscles, which will result in a long, lean silhouette.
Also, while weight lifting can get tedious with a bunch of reps, Pilates asks you to relax and be more mindful of what your muscles are actually doing and how your body works together.
Traditional mat Pilates uses very little to no resistance for most exercises, using equipment that includes light weights, bands, and bodyweight. But don't be fooled: you will sweat and tone your body in no time.
If you are using a reformer like Dewan, your body will experience full range of motion even more so than on the mat, in addition to strengthening and lengthening your muscles while also training your body to sustain that length.
What is a Reformer?
The Pilates reformer is a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it, called the carriage, which rolls back and forth on wheels within the frame. The carriage is attached to one end of the reformer by a set of springs that provide a range of varying levels of resistance. The strength training comes by pushing or pulling the carriage in a number of ways, including using various modifications, like straps and bars.
Depending on how you use these attachments on the reformer, you can make your workout easier or you can intensify your workout by adding more resistance and relying on your strength and coordination to execute the movements. Like, say, doing the splits upside down while propping yourself up like Dewan does.
With any strength training exercise, you need to consider how progressive your Pilates workouts are. Workouts need to gradually and progressively challenge your muscles in order for you to gain more strength.
Weightlifting might get you bigger muscles, but Pilates will offer you a svelte look of a dancer, plus the strength of an athlete.
Who knows? You might be able to do upside down splits in no time.
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