This classic Pilates mat exercise works your core, sure, but "the pumping motion of the arms gets the cardiovascular system working right away," said nationally-certified Pilates instructor Alina Sedano. "It helps increase the heart rate and circulates blood throughout the body," she said, so you're burning calories while strengthening your core muscles.
- Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat, ensuring your hips and knees are together. Gently press your spine into the mat, and bring your legs into tabletop position. Make sure your knees are stacked over your hips, your toes are pointed, and your shins are parallel to (in line) the floor. Rest your hands gently on your knees. This is your starting position.
- On an exhale, tuck your chin into your chest and draw your ribs to your hips to elevate your head, shoulders, and upper back off the mat. Be sure to keep your back flat on the mat. At the same time, extend your knees to create a 90-degree angle at your hips and extend your arms by your sides with your palms facing down, ensuring your arms are parallel to (in line with) the floor.
- Inhale, and elevate your arms slightly, then lower your arms slightly. This is called a pulse. Perform five pulses.
- Exhale, and pulse your arms five times.
- Lower your head and shoulders, bend your knees, and place your hands on your knees to return to the starting position.
- Repeat until you have completed 100 pulses (10 inhales and exhales), which should take you around 50 seconds.
- Complete this circuit for a total of three rounds, taking one minute of rest in between each round.