Monday, January 9, 2012

Pilates Exercises for Beginner & Advanced Level Boxers

Joseph Pilates invented his exercise system in the early 1900s and taught dancers, actors and boxers in his New York City Pilates studio, according to Romana Kryzanowska, a protégé of Joseph Pilates. Modern Pilates students perform boxing exercises on the reformer machine to strengthen their chest, arm and core muscles, according to Ellie Herman, author of "Ellie Herman's Pilates Reformer." You can make this exercise easier or more challenging by changing your position on the reformer. Check with the manufacturer of your machine for an appropriate resistance setting for boxing. Consult with your health adviser before starting any new exercise program.
Place your box on the reformer carriage, pushing it against the shoulder rests. Sit on the box with your hips at the back edge. Press your feet into the carriage to help you stabilize your body. Hold the strap handles at your armpits with your palms facing down. Punch your right arm forward, aiming directly in front of your shoulder. Tuck your fist back to your armpit. Punch each arm 10 times, alternating the movement from one arm to the other. The carriage will move as you punch; keep your torso still by drawing your navel in and pressing your feet into the carriage. Do not allow your torso to tilt or rotate.
Boxing while cross-legged is more challenging than the seated position because you cannot use your legs to anchor your torso, Herman notes. Sit cross-legged on your reformer with your hips pressed against the shoulder rests. Lengthen your spine toward the sky and draw your ribs together. Hold the strap handles at your armpits with your palms facing down. As you punch your right arm forward, rotate your arm to point your palm inward. Tuck your fist back to your armpit with your palm down, and then repeat with your left arm. Perform 10 punches on each arm. Keep your spine tall throughout your movements; only your arms should move.
The kneeling position requires the highest level of core stability during the boxing exercise, Herman notes. Kneel upright on your reformer with the soles of your feet pressed against your shoulder rests. Scoop your navel in and pull your ribs together as if you were about to zip-up a tight dress. Hold the strap handles at your armpits with your palms facing down. Slowly press both arms straight forward. Lengthen your spine as your arms cause the carriage to move backward. Slowly tuck your arms in to your armpits. Once you become comfortable moving both arms together, try performing single-arm punches while keeping your torso still and long. Perform 10 punches on each arm.
If you do not have access to a reformer, you can perform the Pilates boxing exercise using a pair of hand weights up to 5 lbs. each. To add core work to the seated and cross-legged exercises, lean your torso forward about 30 degrees. Keep your spine long and pull your navel in as you box your arms. For the kneeling version, sit your hips back and tilt your spine forward as you box your arms.

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