Best Pilates Rings: What are they?
The term “best” refers to the most effective. A good exercise will make your muscles work better than others. The same goes for a bad one, which may even cause harm. If you do not have any experience with a particular exercise then it would be wise to consult someone who does so before attempting them yourself.
Pilates rings are a popular form of exercise used by women around the world. They are also known as pilates or yoga rings. These exercises involve holding a piece of wood (or other rigid object) in various positions while moving your arms and legs at different speeds.
The purpose is to improve flexibility, strength, balance and coordination. You can perform these exercises anywhere because they don’t require special equipment such as weights or mats.
What’s so great about them?
They strengthen all the major muscle groups, including the abdominal wall, hips and thighs. They also increase blood flow to your muscles and improve circulation. They are very easy to learn and can be done anytime without much time commitment. There is no need for specialized equipment like weights or mats.
How do I start?
You can easily find a DVD or reference book that teaches you the different rings exercises. You can also learn them from a personal trainer in your area. Once you learn the basics, you can perform the exercises anywhere without much space, although it is recommended to find a wide open space for extra movement.
What muscles do they work?
Below is a list of major muscles that are targeted when doing rings exercises:
1. Abdominals – Abdominal muscles help to flex the spine which is part of many of the exercises.
2. Upper back muscles – These support the spine and help with movements such as pulling yourself up or holding yourself in a position.
3. Lower back muscles – Help with arching, twisting and other motions that stabilize the low back.
4. Thighs – Thighs are used for holding yourself up and stabilizing your legs, as well as many other exercises.
5. Glutes (buttocks) – Help with sitting, as well as movements such as pushing, kicking and extending the legs.
6. Hips – Movements of the hips help with bending, twisting, side bending and other motions.
7. Calves – Movements of the calves help with lifting the heels and pushing off the floor.
8. Feet – Movements of the feet help with stabilizing the ankles, as well as certain exercises that involve pivoting or rolling your feet.
What are some good exercises?
Here are some of the more popular pilates ring exercises:
1. Clams – Lying on your side, you bring your knees toward your body and then extend them outward while keeping your upper body and hips in contact with the floor.
This is a great exercise for the thighs and buttock muscles.
2. Crosses – Lying on your back, you lift your legs toward the ceiling and then extend them out to the sides while keeping them in a straight line with your body.
This exercise works the buttock muscles as well as the inner and outer thighs.
3. Cutties – Lying on your side, you lift your top leg up and back so that the foot is above the hip.
The lower leg remains in contact with the floor for support. You then switch legs and repeat. This exercise works the buttock muscles as well as the outer thigh.
4. Knee Hug – Lying on your back, you lift your bottom off the floor and pull your knees in toward your chest.
This works the buttock muscles as well as the upper and inner thighs.
5. Mermaid – Lying on stomach, you lift your head, shoulders and arms off floor while keeping your hips on the floor.
Then you extend your arms back and legs out straight so that only your feet and shoulders are touching the floor. This exercise works the lower back, abdominals, hips and buttock muscles.
6. Single Leg Knees – Lying on your stomach, you lift your head, shoulders and arms off the floor while keeping your hips on the floor.
Then you lift one leg up and extend it straight toward the ceiling so that your toe touches the floor in front of your head. You then lower it back down and repeat with your other leg. This works the buttock, hip and thigh muscles on the extended leg, as well as the abdominals and oblique muscles on the leg that is holding you up.
7. Sit Thru – Lying on your side, you lift your bottom off the floor and twist toward the top leg while extending it out straight.
You then reach the arm on the top side forward and place it on the floor. You then bring the bottom leg through the space between the top leg and arm so that you end up in a sitting position facing the opposite direction. This works buttock muscles as well as core muscles.
8. Single Leg Stretch – Lying on your back, you lift your bottom off the floor and stretch one leg straight up toward the ceiling.
This works the buttock muscles as well as the thigh muscles.
9. Single Leg Stretch with Rotation – Lying on your back, you lift your bottom off the floor and rotate your hips so that one leg is extended out straight and the other is bent at the knee with the foot near the floor.
You then lift the bent leg a few inches off the floor and rotate your body so that you are facing the opposite direction. You then bring that leg down, switch legs and repeat. This works the buttock muscles as well as the core muscles.
10. Single Arm Extension – Lying on your stomach, you lift your head, shoulders and arms off the floor while keeping your hips on the floor.
Sources & references used in this article:
Pilates illustrated by PJ Page – 2010 – books.google.com
The effectiveness of the Pilates method: reducing the degree of non-structural scoliosis, and improving flexibility and pain in female college students by MEA de Araújo, EB da Silva, DB Mello… – Journal of bodywork and …, 2012 – Elsevier
SHAREABLE RESOURCE: Pilates Core and More by G DeSimone – ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 2016 – journals.lww.com
Effects of Mat Pilates on physical functional performance of older adults: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by Z Berry – 2012 – Emereo Publishing