Lebron James, Aaron Judge, Antonio Brown, Tyler Seguin. Four major league sports. Four big time athletes. One thing in common: They all incorporate Pilates into their workout program.
In order to be one of the elite performers in the sports world, you need power, strength, speed, agility, balance, coordination and endurance. Pilates helps you with all that.
Isn’t That for Women?
Even in 2019, there are a lot of men who will wrinkle their forehead and curl their upper lip at the thought of entering a Pilates gym. Let’s face it, stereotypically men perceive going to the gym as sort of a time-honored tradition of pumping mass amounts of iron with buckets of sweat pouring out with every grunt and groan, as a mantra of “No Pain, No Gain” runs through our heads.
Whether your goal is to follow in the footsteps of one of these superstars or branch out into a different field of athletics be it on the court, field or even in the weight room, adding Pilates to your workout could be the “extra” that you are missing to help push you to that next level.
Created by a former bodybuilder and professional boxer, Joseph Pilates developed a series of workouts using various and simple pieces of equipment that focused on connecting the mind and body to work together as one unit. For many that are still unfamiliar with the concept of Pilates and the benefits of it may scoff at the thought of not using typical gym equipment for what is deemed a traditional workout, let it be known that Pilates is no joke. Most men typically focus on workouts – chest and shoulder press, curls, squats – that over time tend to shorten muscles and limit flexibility, two key disadvantages that in the long run stop you from increasing your lifting abilities and speed.
With a focus on the core area, Pilates workouts strengthen and lengthen both large and small muscle groups in the abdomen, back, glutes, legs, arms, and chest. As an athlete, the ability to increase your level of flexibility is a major asset when you’re looking to enhance your body. By developing the ability to move your body more freely, the increased range of motion and flexibility will not only help with reaction time and movement in competition, but it will also assist in repairing your body quicker.
While participating in sports, bodies take a beating every time we suit up for competition and we continue to try and push the limits of what we may believe we are capable of. By engaging in a regimen that not only strengthens, lengthens and stabilizes your body but also assists in the recovery stage, Pilates workouts will assist in making sure that soreness and injuries are kept to a minimum.
The Strange World of Pilates Equipment
In place of barbells, plates, dumbbells, kettlebells, and other equipment you’ll find in a typical home gym or commercial gym, equipment includes a bunch of unfamiliar sounding names like Springboard, Reformer and Wunda Chair. They sound gimmicky, but they’re effective and have been incorporated in Pilates workouts for a long time.
Replacing iron weights are various resistance loaded springs that assist in developing strength, flexibility and body awareness. For athletes, use of these pieces of equipment can assist in optimizing movement patterns related to their particular sport while focusing on specific strengthening exercises, range of motion and coordination.
Workouts on a Springboard allow you to independently focus on each limb through use of its own spring-loaded apparatus. The Springboard also requires you to focus more on stabilization and balance during each exercise, two key aspects of athletic movement.
The Reformer, a matted platform that can be pushed or pulled within a framed structure allows you to focus on exercises using either or both lower and upper body through a series of dynamic and versatile routines.
Exercises can be done standing, sitting or lying down challenging your stability, flexibility, balance, and strength.
Essentially a box with a spring-loaded pedal, the Wunda Chair can also help you focus on your lower back and pelvic area, as well as your ankles and feet, which are key areas for an athletic movement that many of us tend to ignore with traditional gym workouts. Ankles and feet get worked hard during sports, and they need to be conditioned just like other parts of your body.
Pilates Will Put You at a Huge Advantage
No longer just a workout for women, investing in a Pilates program as part of your workout schedule will challenge, strengthen and stretch your body in ways that many athletes haven’t experienced.
By creating more motion, flexibility, stability and balance, you will be able to add a couple of more plates to your bar or bump up to that next dumbbell a lot quicker than you might expect by simply being open minded enough to try a new exercise program that has been around for over one hundred years.