Originally published in SheFinds.
\Pilates is known for lengthening and strengthening muscles, as well as better balance and mobility, but did you know that it can be one of the best exercises to help combat the bloating and fatigue that comes hand in hand with holiday overeating?
“Pilates is great for combating fatigue as it releases endorphins during the exercise, which will leave you energized after!” Abby Gustaitis, certified pilates instructor at Club Pilates, tells us. “Pilates can improve bloating as it focuses on activating and strengthening the core.”
Planking, in particular, engages the abdominals in a way that aided with pilates breath and “can help release the excess air in the body.” Here are Abby’s favorite plank positions for boosting energy and getting rid of bloat, in addition to the full-body strengthening benefits:
Side plank thread-through
How to do it: From a side plank position on one elbow, rotate your top shoulder toward the floor and thread your top arm under you.
"Focus on squeezing the glutes to keep the hips square as you reach your top arm under and rotate the ribs and shoulders to the floor," Abby says. "This thoracic rotation is so good for the spine."
How to do it: Your front side faces the ceiling for this plank variation, firing up more of your back muscles.
"Gently tuck the chin to protect your neck," Abby advises. "Squeeze the glutes to lift the hips up as you drive the navel down to the spine. Think of elongating the entire body from head to toes. This exercise opens up the entire front body as we generally shorten those muscles from inactivity such as driving and working from home."
Plank hip dips
How to do it: From a forearm plank, drop your hips from side to side, creating a rainbow-shaped path with your pelvis.
"Send hips and heels to one side then exhale to engage the obliques and abdominals as you move up and over to the other side," she suggests. "This exercise engages the entire abdominal wall."
Side plank hip raise
How to do it: From a side plank position on one elbow, lift your hips up and down a few inches, squeezing your oblique muscles.
"Inhale as you lower the hips down and exhale as you squeeze the bottom oblique to lift your hips up," she recommends.
Side plank overhead crunch
How to do it: From a side plank position on one elbow, bring together your top elbow and top knee with an oblique crunch and then extend.
"Cinch your top oblique as you bring top knee and elbow to touch," Abby suggest. "Think of closing the rib to hip area."
How to do it: Walk up to your hands from a forearm plank position and back down.
"I love emphasizing the hips in this movement," she says. "We want to keep them as stable as possible as we engage the shoulders and upper body to move from low to high plank and reverse."
How to do it: While in a forearm plank, rock forward two inches onto your toes so your forehead comes past your fists.
"Drive through the elbows and forearms as you think about separating the shoulder blades and broadening your upper back," Abby advises.
How to do it: Find a traditional plank position on your forearms, and lift up one leg at a time until your glutes and core feel challenged. Even out the work on both sides.
"I love this full body exercise that requires stability from the abdominal wall including the obliques and then engaging the glute to lift the entire leg without shifting from the hips up," Abby explains.