When you hear the word Pilates, you probably picture ballerinas. For years, this workout has been the preserve of dancers and female wellness enthusiasts. However, this is not all the workouts are good for.
Pilates incorporates all the elements of healthy physical movement: breath, posture, strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility. Therefore it has many general health and movement benefits for men and women alike.
What Is Pilates?
The system was developed by Joseph Pilates, who came up with the name after he found his students using their bodies as “apparatus” when training.
In modern fitness, Pilates as a methodology focuses heavily on improving core strength, flexibility, posture, and balance.
While an individual may only exercise using Pilates once or twice per week (to achieve noticeable gains), some people incorporate it into their daily routines for its general health benefits.
What Are The Benefits Of Pilates For Men?
There are several reasons why more men are gravitating toward this ancient wellness practice. For one, all the exercises in Pilates are performed using your body weight. This means you can do it anywhere and at any time (e.g., at home). It is not necessary to join a gym or fitness center.
Pilates also benefits men by helping them develop:
Neglected Muscle Groups
Some Pilates moves target areas of your body that you probably never paid much attention to when lifting. Without this attention, these regions can become weakened or easily injured from everyday activities such as walking or working out at the gym.
Many guys like the fact that they can improve their flexibility and balance without having to go through complicated yoga poses or other complex body contortions. Strengthening muscle groups such as the abdomen and thigh muscles is very important for males who want to live long and healthy lives (4). Since they are often neglected, men who incorporate Pilates into their routines experience significant gains in terms of function and aesthetics.
In Pilates, you use a combination of control and strength to lengthen and strengthen your core (abdominal) muscles. This increases balance and stability while improving posture, which is important to avoid falls.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Training
Pelvic floor muscles control bladder function, which means they also help prevent prostate problems such as incontinence (6). While pelvic floor muscle training can be done by anyone, most people find this type of exercise easier to do with the aid of a physiotherapist/trainer first. The good news is that regularly doing Pilates can lead to noticeable strength gain in these muscles.
Live More Consciously
Fitness is not only about the number of reps you do or which muscles you are targeting. For men, it also involves knowing how to move properly at all times. Pilates helps you develop the skills required to live with greater consciousness so you can correct your form and breathing while working out and doing other activities.
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Which Are The Best Pilates Exercises For Men?
Here are some of the best pilates exercises for men:
The pelvic curl is a staple pilates exercise for good reason. It helps open up hip flexors while strengthening and activating the glutes and improves spinal mobility by focusing on the segmental movement of the spine (1).
- Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart. Inhale to prepare.
- Exhale, engage your core muscles, and lift your hips off the mat as far as you can get them without letting them sag toward the ground.
- Hold for three seconds, then slowly lower back to starting position through a count of ten seconds.
- Repeat 12 times for one set.
The supine twist encourages lumbar spine mobility by adding a rotational component, while also forcing your obliques to fire in order to control the movement.
- Lie on your back, legs long with toes pointing away from hips.
- Bend your right knee into your chest until the outer hip is resting on the floor; extend your left leg out to the side.
- Keep your right shoulder blade on the floor and turn your head to look at your left hand.
Chest Lift With Rotation
The chest lift is a great lower ab exercise that tones all the abdominal muscles, transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques by forcing you to maintain a contraction while rotating side to side.
- Lie on your back.
- Hammock your head with your hands to relax the neck.
- Inhale to prepare, then exhale as you lift your shoulder blades off the floor.
- Make sure the lift comes from your abdominal muscles, not your neck.
- While lifted, gently rotate to one side, then the other, then return to enter.
- Repeat 1-2 more repetitions or rest between sets.
Pilates Vs. Yoga For Men: Which Is Better?
Pilates and yoga are two forms of exercise that have gained massive popularity in the past few years. While both practices require a commitment to traditional exercises, you’ll notice some significant differences between Pilates vs. yoga for men.
Pilates is a form of exercise that was developed in the early 20th century and was originally designed for dancers and actors in mind. The system focuses on correct posture and muscle strength to create a lean and toned body, allowing you to achieve your desired appearance (5).
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India thousands of years ago. It’s still practiced today as a religious activity meant for spiritual ascension but has also evolved into a form of exercise with stretches and poses intended to improve flexibility and physical appearance (3).
Can men benefit from either Pilates vs. yoga? Absolutely! But when it comes down to Pilates vs. yoga for guys, there are some major differences in how these practices can affect your body and health.
Yoga focuses on poses and flexibility, which means that your muscles will be lengthened and relaxed (3). This is great for increasing your range of motion and allowing you to sit and stand up straight, but it doesn’t do much for strength training. Yoga classes are also typically mellow, with soft lighting, music, deep breathing exercises, meditation, and soothing scents.
Pilates is more intense than yoga since it focuses on strengthening the core throughout all positions so you can have increased control over your body (5). It requires you to maintain correct posture at all times, so you’re working out in a way that’s how your body was originally designed to function. There is an emphasis on training the core in short sets (such as doing ten reps of each move).
So which practice is better for you depends on your goals. The distinction is pilates is more about toning your core, while yoga is better for relaxation and flexibility.
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Tips For Getting Started With Pilates
If you are new to Pilates, there are a few tips that can help smooth your transition into this unique form of exercise:
Learn Proper Breathing
If anyone ever told you that breathing has nothing to do with physical activities, then they are wrong! The secret is in learning how to engage your diaphragm correctly during each movement to maximize the benefits (2).
Learn The Common Pilates Moves
You can easily learn these moves by reading or watching tutorials on the Internet. However, if you are really serious about incorporating this exercise into your daily routine, then invest in a qualified instructor who can teach you how to properly perform each movement to avoid injuries and maximize your gains over time.
Building strength is usually an ongoing process that requires patience and discipline, especially for beginners. Keep track of your progress by setting achievable/realistic goals at regular intervals to keep yourself motivated throughout your workout program. You might want to start with simple things like learning how to do a particular Pilates move before moving on to more advanced ones.
It’s Not Just About The Core
Pilates for men is a great way to spend time with friends and family because it’s a team activity. Not only does this break down the time spent on physical training into smaller increments, but it also adds an element of fun and excitement that may otherwise be lacking from your workout regimen.
The Bottom Line
Pilates workouts for men is a serious form of exercise that combines physical training with education to help you develop awareness and mindfulness about your body. Whether your goal is to lose weight or improve your overall fitness levels, Pilates can be a great way to get started on the path toward healthier living.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Bridging (Pelvic Curl Pilates) (n.d., pilatescan.com.au)
- Effects of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Health: A Narrative Review (2020, nih.gov)
- Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life (2011, nih.gov)
- Pilates: how does it work and who needs it? (2011, nih.gov)
- Pilates for improvement of muscle endurance, flexibility, balance, and posture (2010, nih.gov)
- WHY A HEALTHY PELVIC FLOOR IS IMPORTANT (n.d., nafc.org)