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5 Simple Ways to Advance Your Pilates Workout

5 Simple Ways to Advance Your Pilates Workout

As beginners in fitness, we sometimes associate advancing a workout with using more equipment or holding heavier weights, which can often feel unobtainable. But the truth is, there are simple ways to challenge yourself with nothing more than your own body! Follow along with Alicia’s Power Pilates series, available for free on the Aleenta Health Club YouTube, and discover how easy it is to take your workout to the next level.

1. Increase repetitions and duration of an exercise

This is a great way even for beginners to start advancing in not just Pilates, but any workout! The more repetitions of an exercise you do, the longer those muscles have to work, which is the simplest way to start increasing your endurance. Similarly, increasing your workout from say 45 minutes to 60 minutes is also going to help you build stamina and endurance. It will feel difficult at first, but if you work consistently at increasing your reps and duration of your workout little by little, you will notice your improvement in no time!

2. Hold traditional exercises and add movement

Once you’ve mastered the foundational exercises of Pilates, an easy way to level-up your workout is to hold exercises rather than move dynamically through them. An exercise is always more challenging when held because your muscles are under tension for a longer duration of time, causing them to fatigue faster. Long holds are more suited to an advance workout because it is important that you are able to maintain your form as you fatigue; beginners tend to compensate for the extra burn by sacrificing alignment, which can lead to injury. 


A great example in Alicia’s Advanced Power Pilates series is the c-curve hold. She starts with a simple lower/and lift as you would in a more novice Pilates class, then adds a challenge by holding in your c-curve and adding movement of the arms as well as spinal/oblique twists. You could take this one step further by holding hand weights as well.

3. Try an exercise unilaterally

It may look like a scary word, but all unilateral means is that you are working one-side rather than two. This can look like single-leg bridges, exercises that stand on one leg rather than two, and more. Unilateral exercises are more challenging because your bodyweight is being supported with less surface area, increasing the amount of resistance for the muscle(s) on the working side of the body. So, if you’ve mastered your simple Pilates bridge, try taking it to the next level by working with one leg in the air.

4. Decrease surface area

Similar to #3, decreasing the surface area supporting your body in an exercise is a simple but fiery way to advance an exercise. Examples of this include tucking the toes of your supporting leg in all fours to hover your supporting knee as you work; the increased ab burn alone is enough to work with, but if you’re really advanced, you can even lift one of your supporting arms as well, leaving only the surface area of one arm and your supporting toes to hold you. Talk about a challenge!

5. Combine exercises 

In a beginner class, it is unlikely you will see multiple exercises flowing together due to the complexity of movement. When you’re new to Pilates, it is important you first understand each exercise on its own. However, once you’ve mastered these basics, you will likely find more advanced Pilates classes fuse multiple movements together for a longer, more challenging flow.

An example of this is Alicia’s rollover to tipping teaser combo, which combines the backward movement of a rollover with the forward momentum of the teaser. Rather than simply working into one or two sections of the abdominals, this combination works the upper abs, lower abs and transverse abdominals, in addition to requiring shoulder, glute and inner-thigh activation for stability. This is TOUGH, especially because the exercise requires you to go slow so you don’t cheat by using your momentum, making for the perfect, advanced ab workout!

Loved following along with Alicia? You can check out more classes in her Power Pilates series on our Youtube channel

 Want more workout hacks? Check out these 5 technique tips for barre beginners.

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