I love Pilates. Having practiced the method for more than five years, I can't imagine my workout routine without it. My once-persistent back pain is virtually nonexistent these days, an improvement that I attribute to the core strength I've gained from my twice-weekly sessions.
While most people think of Pilates as a core workout—and it definitely is one—it offers so many more benefits, from increased flexibility to the mood-boosting effects of mind-body exercise. And thanks to a recent study, we can now we can add upper body strength to that list of perks.
Our friends at That's Fit recently blogged about a new study showing that traditional mat Pilates exercises improved upper body strength in middle-aged men and women.
What's particularly interesting about these findings is that traditional mat Pilates doesn't really focus much on upper body strength. Sure, you may do some Pilates pushups and a few plank exercises for shoulder stability in a mat class. But without the use of a reformer machine or other props, there are not many upper-body specific exercises in mat Pilates. Researchers believe that a stronger core aids your upper body in exercises like pushups, and I agree.
Your body moves as a chain (often referred to as the kinetic chain), but that chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If your core is weak, full-body movements and other exercises, including pushups, will suffer. When your core is strong, however, your kinetic chain is stronger, and that helps you perform more repetitions and/or lift more weight in good form, which helps improve strength and endurance throughout the body. This is yet another reason core strengthening is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle and a sound fitness plan.
So if you've been struggling to move that pin to the next level on the weight stack or to finally complete the 100 Pushups Challenge, concentrate on your core and the rest of your body will follow!
Do you believe that a strong core improves upper body strength? How do you strengthen your core?
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