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Best 5 Pilates Movements You Can Practice At Home Utilizing Any Wall

When exercising at your place, you sometimes need to get a bit… imaginative. Don’t own a barre? Grab the rear of a chair. No light dumbbells? Soup cans will suffice.

While Pilates is gaining more popularity, many of us lack traditional Pilates equipment such as a reformer or Cadillac at home (which is the case for most of us) and might be searching for other ways to enhance or adjust our mat routine. Here comes into play: The wall. Yes, even the four corners of any room can serve as a valuable aid in your Pilates routine.

Here, Pilates instructor Jennifer Kreichman from New York divlgies five of the most beneficial movements you can try out at home using only a wall. “Each of these exercises derives from a classical Pilates base, emphasizing abdominal strengthening and promoting an overall body harmony,” she articulates.

1. Centennial

It’s quite rare to find any Pilates workout that doesn’t involve the centennial. However, it can be quite demanding. For beginners embarking on their strength quest, using the support of the wall could be a great initial step. Below are three progressively challenging variations of the exercise.

Modifying with feet on the ground

Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. They should be aligned hip-width apart and the tips of your toes should touch the wall, maintaining the feet in a consistent line which is beneficial for alignment as the toes establish the symmetry of your knees and hips.

Step 2: From this position, lift your arms to a 45-degree angle, aligned with your thighs. Then elevate your neck and shoulders off the mat, engaging your upper abdominals.

Step 3: Pump your arms as you inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts. Repeat this sequence 10 times until completing a total of 100 pumping counts.

Upgrade: Modifying with legs at table top

Instead of keeping your feet on the floor, raise your legs in the air placing your feet on the wall in a table-top position: Your shins should be parallel to the floor, your thighs perpendicular to it, and your feet flexed and flat against the wall.

“With the legs now elevated, it demands a higher level of core strength,” as stated by Kreichman. “The wall once again helps in setting the alignment of the feet, knees, and hips, offering you guidance on how to perform the step accurately even without a teacher present in the room.”

Upgrade: Extending legs at a 45-degree angle

This time, extend your legs at a 45-degree angle so the tips of your toes touch the wall.

“The contact with the wall will provide some support for your legs throughout the exercise,” according to Kreichman. “Your goal should be to lift your shoulders toward the tips of your shoulder blades, instead of merely raising your head a couple of centimeters off the ground.”

2. Bridge of the shoulders

Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be spaced hip-width apart and the tips of your toes should touch the wall. Visualize pulling the abdominals inwards and upwards while your back remains on the mat.

Step 2: Activate your glutes and curl your hips under to lift them up for four counts. Hold for four counts as you press into your feet, then roll down for four counts, and relax for four counts. “Based on your strength level, the exercise can be performed between four and 10 times,” as recommended by Kreichman

Upgrade: Feet against the wall

“This is likely the initial thing you would encounter when searching for ‘Pilates wall workout’,” mentioned Kreichman. It’s the same movement as the standard shoulder bridge, but with your feet pressed against the wall in a tabletop position as you raise and lower your hips.

“Engage your abdominals, glutes, and hamstrings purposefully in this version to support your spine. It should be quite challenging.”

3. Arms raised overhead

“This is an excellent exercise for enhancing chest, shoulder, and upper back strength/mobility,” as per Kreichman. “It’s particularly beneficial for those who slouch over their work for extended periods.”

Step 1: Stand away from the wall, position your feet about a foot apart, and lean back your back, hips, and shoulders against it.

Step 2: Extend your arms over your head with bent elbows, pressing against the wall while keeping your fingertips in contact, creating a diamond shape. “For some, such a motion can be really challenging,” remarked Kreichman.

Step 3: Push your arms upwards, straightening them as much as possible with elbows against the wall, and fingertips held together. Repeat six to 10 times.

4. Wall squats

Step 1: Similar to the previous exercise, stand with your feet a foot away from the wall, facing outward, with your back, hips, and shoulders leaning against it. Arms should be at your sides, palms facing the wall.

Step 2: Bend your knees and slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. While doing this, raise your arms forward until they align with your shoulders at shoulder height.

Step 3: Straighten your legs back to the starting position. Simultaneously, lower your arms back to touch the wall. “Rhythmically, descend for four counts, hold for four counts, and ascend for four counts,” suggested Kreichman. Repeat this six to 10 times. “Do not continue till exhaustion. That’s not the objective of Pilates. This exercise targets your quads, glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, hip flexors, core, back, and shoulders. It’s comprehensive.”

5. Wall stretch

Step 1: Stand with your feet approximately a foot and a half away from the wall, facing outward, while your back, hips, and shoulders rest against it.

Step 2: Begin to bend forward by gently lowering your head and gradually lifting your shoulders off the wall, vertebra by vertebra. Continue rolling forward until only the back of your hips are against the wall.

Step 3: While in this forward bend, make five arm circles outward from center, repeating this movement five times in the opposite direction. Then return upwards, following the same path, and repeat two to four times. Always keep your abdominals engaged and lifted. “As this exercise comprises stretching, there should be no tension anywhere,” explained Kreichman. “Let your shoulders hang freely and press your lower back against the wall.”

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