How Body Builders Keep Their Flexibility Through Pilates
In the past, Pilates wasn’t common to fitness centers. In fact, I barely even heard of it until a bunch of my friends started trying it out. And just like that, more and more people became interested in Pilates.
Today you can see every fitness center offering Pilates classes. More and more people have actually shifted to doing this kind of program because it focuses on your core muscles. Personally, it captured my interest because it’s the only fitness program that I know of which hones your core. Read more to find out all the things you need to know about doing Pilates and its benefits especially if you are a bodybuilder.
What is Pilates?
Pilates was first formed by Joseph Pilates, a German physical trainer who started working on the exercises when he was in camp during World War I. He is the son of a gymnast and a naturopath, so naturally he would have taken an interest in body movements and using non-surgical methods to treat body alignments, injuries, and weaknesses.
In the 19th century, he started taking physical training classes where he was able to develop his own fitness style. So, Pilates then created a type of physical fitness that strengthens the core muscles with the help of apparatuses. (Take note that Pilates refers to his equipment as ‘apparatus’)
As the years progressed, Pilates became a method of controlled movements that strengthen and challenge the core muscles so that the body develops endurance and proper alignment. Although it is often mistaken as a form of physical therapy, Joseph Pilates made it clear that it would be more of a strength training exercise wherein its goal is to make the core muscles stronger.
Pilates has six principles which are breathing, centering, concentration, control, flow, and precision.
Why focus on the core muscles?
Joseph Pilates believes that the core is the most important part of the body. The core consists of the abdomen, the lower back, the hips, the waist, and the obliques. It is with your core that you are able to maximize movements with minimal strain on your muscles.
Working on your core can also achieve balance because it works with your lower back where a lot of tension can reside. Although Pilates exercises and stretches the spine, it is different from chiropractic treatment because the latter focuses on spinal adjustments to correct posture and to heal injuries.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
As an established form of fitness, Pilates is known for its many benefits. Here are some of those benefits that might convince you to try out a class for yourself.
- It teaches you how to move efficiently
Pilates makes use of apparatuses and these apparatuses can be adjusted depending on your body type (i.e. weight and height). However, for the apparatuses to work, you have to put a considerable amount of force which you will be doing from various body movements.
These apparatuses are also helpful so you can gauge your improvement over several classes. As you get used to the past exercises, the machines can be adjusted for a more difficult level.
- It’s a good way to have abs
Yes, you’ve heard that right, Pilates exercises help in forming nicely sculptured abs. For a lot of people, this benefit alone is a go signal for them to enroll in a class. However, it’s more than just the abs that are being worked out. As a whole, this type of fitness training deals with imbalances in your left and right muscle and at the same time, it corrects bad posture in your lower back.
- It teaches you how to move with grace
This is especially good for women because a lot of people expect them to move in a certain way. Pilates teaches you exactly how to move properly and with grace because its movements are controlled. Unlike cardio and normal strength training, there is a proper position and timing for all the movements you will be doing in your Pilates class.
The Importance of Flexibility
Another major benefit of doing Pilates is the improvement you’ll get on your flexibility. Over the course of this article, you’ve read about Pilates improving your muscles. This is how:
Flexibility is your body’s ability to do its full range of motion. It’s the ability to move without hurting and breaking any muscle. Over time, your muscles stiffen because of old age. It loses its flexibility making it susceptible to breaking and getting strained even with simple movements.
Bodybuilding and Pilates
In a nutshell, bodybuilding is a sport that involves carrying heavy weights to strengthen the muscles. A product of carrying these weights are big muscles usually on your arms.
If you think about it, bodybuilders are probably the group of people least interested in Pilates since this discipline focuses on stretching the muscles and making them leaner. However, you’d be surprised at how connected they are.
It started with the fact that Joseph Pilates was a bodybuilder himself. Before he was part of World War I, he was a professional boxer himself. When the war started, he then taught soldiers defense and later on moved to training them to be strong and endure the physical requirements of war. Because of this history, you wouldn’t think that it’s impossible for bodybuilders to make use of Pilates since the founder himself discovered this fitness program. In much the same way, you can also be a bodybuilder even if you’ve done a lot of Pilates exercises.
How Pilates Help Bodybuilders’ Flexibility
Let’s go back to the meaning of flexibility. Flexibility refers to your ability to reach your full range of motion. If that’s the case, then as bodybuilders, you have to be able to move freely without tearing any muscles whenever you lift weights.
Pilates can help you with that by improving your flexibility. The movements you’ll be doing during your Pilates sessions will revolve around you carrying your weight or the weights of the apparatuses and moving your body a certain way. These exercises challenge your muscles to reach their limit without damaging them. Because Pilates focuses on controlled movements, you don’t have to worry about breaking any muscles.
The slow and steady movements of Pilates is actually the main difference it has with bodybuilding. While bodybuilding focuses on making the muscles larger, Pilates focuses on making the muscles more flexible making them less vulnerable to tearing and getting sore.
If you’re a bodybuilder yourself, you might be hesitant to try Pilates because there’s also a stigma to it since it makes you more graceful in your movement. Obviously, bodybuilding isn’t too focused on grace so a lot of people are hesitating to try it out. However, I encourage you to take a few Pilates classes because it will help balance the large muscles you have. I also believe that when you try Pilates, the exercises can make your muscles even stronger. In the long run, it will help boost your strength.
Also, don’t forget that Pilates strengthens your core. Bodybuilding needs a strong core because this is where you get your strength. In Pilates, your core is considered the “powerhouse” and that in itself makes it very helpful for bodybuilders. Harnessing that core strength will help you carry more weight and at the same time, be more flexible about your movements.