Class #4045

Day 8: Back Strength

20 min - Class


Welcome to Day 8! The focus today in on back strength and making sure that your pelvis maintains a neutral position while you are moving. Carrie also combines concepts from the previous challenge days to help you work your entire body.
What You'll Need: Mat

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May 18, 2020
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Hi, everyone, welcome to day eight. We're getting there. I'm so proud of you for continuing to meet me on the mat every day. I know this isn't easy but it's a challenge, that's why we're doing it. So for day eight, our focus is going to be back strength.

So for me, one of the things that I focus on when I'm working on making sure that my back is exercising while I'm doing all of my exercises, it's about my pelvis, making sure that the position of my pelvis is neutral. So we're gonna talk about that as we go through this workout today. We are gonna started seated though, so go ahead and come down to your mat. And have your feet planted to the mat, and just put your hands underneath your thighs. Sit up as straight as you can, find a nice breath in there.

And as you exhale, just lean back. Allow your arms to straighten. As my arms straighten here, I'm just hanging from my legs like a hammock, just kind of falling back. So let's just get that body kind of in that rounded shape that we found for our ball class last time. Sit up nice and tall, breathing in.

And then breathe out and just hang back from your legs, and try to find that nice rounded shape, just like if we were programming our bodies to roll like a ball. Inhale, sitting up and let's exhale and find that shape. So now we're gonna try to let the abdominals take over control here. Send the belly as deep towards your back as you can. Think about the deepening that we've worked on throughout the challenge.

Reach one arm out as you try to sink your tummy down away from your T-shirt. Send the other arm out. From here, we're going back another inch. Breath in and hold. Exhale, go back another inch, breathe in and hold.

Exhale, back another inch. And now we sit all the way up, inhale. Exhale, take it back without the use of the hands on the legs. We breathe in and hold. Exhale, another inch.

Breathe in and hold. Exhale, another inch. Breathe in and sit up. We add a rotation. Open one arm, exhale, just reach to the side, roll back.

Inhale, sit up. Other side. Exhale, reach and rotate. Inhale, sit up. Again, exhale, reach and hold.

Inhale it up. Other side, exhale. Inhale back to the middle. We're going down one and holding. Let's go another inch, exhale.

Deepening belly to the back, breathe in. Exhale, deepen belly to back. Take it the rest of the way down to the mat. Bring your knees a little more bent, feet flat to the mat. And let's take our time here navigating neutral position of the pelvis.

So often the question is, is there space between my back and the mat when I'm in neutral? I don't like to have that conversation because it depends on what your body type feels like, so that doesn't matter. What matters is what your bones are doing. So think about your pelvis and your pelvic bones, and your pubic bone. I want those three points on the same plane.

So if that creates space between your back and your mat, great. If it doesn't, great, it doesn't matter. What I want though is for you to have an awareness of the way that the muscles are working all around your body. So you're going to feel some work in your back when you're holding yourself in neutral. It's not pain, it's not strain but it is exercise.

So as I'm working to deepen my belly to the back and the front like we talk about all of the time with Pilates, I'm also thinking of almost lifting the skin on my back up towards the front of my body, and drawing my sides in like an hourglass shape. So as we lay here and navigate our neutral, breathe in. And as you exhale, you're gonna think, sink the belly to the back, pull the back to the front, draw the sides in, and you just contain everything in the center as strong as you can. Fill the body up with air again, inhale. Then, exhale.

Sink the front to the back, pull the back to the front, draw the sides in creating an hourglass shape sensation through the body. One more time, let the body fill up with air. And then exhale, squeeze every bit of that breath out of your body. At the very end of that exhale, let's draw the chin in, curl up and see if you can maintain that feeling. So there's still a deepening from the front down.

There's a pulling of the back up, and the sides are drawing in all at the same time. That's what makes you strong and stable, and able to do your hundred. Here we go, one leg comes up, followed by the other. Let's send the legs up and go. Inhale two, three, four, five.

Exhale two, three, four, five. The whole time we're doing this, we're just setting up our body for how we're gonna work throughout the workout, which is to embrace the back exercising and let the back get stronger. Breathe in. And out and as the legs lower, if you're interested in doing so, you start to maybe notice that more muscles kick in. Allow the back to have some time to exercise, but keep deepening down through the front of the body at the same time, so that you feel safe and strong.

Two more long breaths, inhale. And exhale, two, three, four, five. Inhale, exhale, two, three, four, five and hold it. Rest all the way down. We're now gonna roll over to your stomach.

We're gonna go through flight next. So this is just a little warmup for our extension. We'll turn the palms up today, forehead resting on the mat. Take your shoulders and draw them open. Now from here, we're simply gonna lift the head and the chest, and we're going into a mini extension.

So I feel my front ribs on the mat still. My arms are reaching long. And if you can just indulge me, I want you to think about what your position looks like when you're doing your hundred beats curl. And envision that this is the absolute inverse of that. And now take that back down.

All right, so just envision if you were laying on the floor and you tucked your chin to curl to come up for hundred curl, this is the opposite. So we have our shoulders open. We have to lift the chin and we're curling, and we're letting the back of the body pull us into that extension. Never pain or strain. And lower down.

All right, now we're gonna get really sassy. You're gonna open your shoulders, lift your chin. You're doing that curl, now we're doing hundred here, a little bit slow though. So we're gonna take the arms and press up, two, three. Exhale, let's do three.

So we'll inhale, two, three. Exhale, two, three. Now that you've got what you're doing, think about the way that we exhaled our front to the back, our back to our fronts and drew the sides in. Let that be your inspiration as you just continue to focus on your own body, focus on your breath. Work safely but get stronger.

Breathing in. And out. And inhale. And exhale. That's enough, lower down.

We're gonna push up to the hands and knees, sit back on the heels for a moment. All right, roll yourself up. And now, we're gonna go into more back strengthening. So we're on your tummy again. And you're just gonna bring your hands, and make a little pillow for your head with your hands, and rest your forehead on it.

Now, have your legs maybe about hip width apart, but make sure they're strong. So we did our leg class recently. I want you to have that little bit of a feeling like you're pulling on your pantyhose there, nice and strong through the legs. Now from here, all you're gonna do is pick your elbows up and lower them down. So as you start with the shoulders set down away from the ears, that should already feel a little bit like an exercise.

Now, press the elbows up and lower them down. So I love this because just simply lifting my elbows turns on the back of my body a lot. So it's a great way to exercise the back with very little pain or strain. It should feel like it wakes stuff up, but there isn't a fear behind it at all. Pick the elbows up, lower them down.

This time, pick the elbows up, now this definitely progresses it. You're gonna take your head and your chest and lift and that's a lot of weight to be lifting up, so listen to your body. Take that down. We take the elbows up first, then we lift the back, hold it. And then we take that down.

Again, elbows first. Lift. And take that down. All right, now we progress it even further. You can do this with the hands behind your head.

This is very challenging. So the hands come behind the head, the elbows are resting on the floor. First thing, elbows just lift and they lower. Again, lift, almost think of using your sides to pull your elbows up and lower. So again, the sides draw in like an hourglass shape, you feel your back working as you pull your elbows up and lower that down.

This time, lift the elbows, and now for your greatest challenge in this position, you try to lift your head and your arms up. And then take that down, rest the elbows. Step one is elbows only, then everything if you can. And then take that all the way down. Once again, remember this is a challenge, guys.

Reel it in as needed, this is not easy. Hold, two, three and take it all the way down. Bring your arms around, push up and take a moment to rest. All right, now we're taking this into another little variation that is going to be similar to the T series from the long box, if you're familiar with that. If you're not, just follow along.

So we're back to the hands creating a little pillow for our forehead. And lengthen out, turn the whole body on, the whole body's integrated. We start by lifting the elbows and now lift the head. This is start and stop now. From here, extend the arms out.

Now, bring the hands back, go to extension that's higher. Return to where you were, bring your hands to your forehead. We start again, arms go out, arms come back. Return, hands to head. Again, arms out, arms come back.

Out, hands to head, two more. Out, up, out with the arms, in with the hands. Last one, out, lift. Arms out, hands in, rest down. And we'll push up to the hands and knees, stretch again.

All right, we're going onto your stomach again. We're gonna go through a lovely quad stretch which is gonna turn into a little bit of a more advanced back exercise so here we go. Right hand only underneath the head. Reach back, hold onto your foot. So we're simply stretching here (laughs).

So getting a little bit of a stretch in the quad. Find a connection of your belly to your back, and a little pressure of the pubic bone down into the floor as you just try to give that foot a gentle little pull. Now from here, we're going to use the arm to press ourselves up into extension, while also pushing the leg behind us. So, I have to do a little flip of my hand grip, and I'm pressing up and then I'm taking that back down. So I come up again and I push with my arm.

I push my foot against my hand and lift. And then I take that right back down. Again, I take that up. And then I bring that down. We'll extend that leg out and do the other leg.

Hold the foot at first and just enjoy your stretch. Draw the abdominals up and in, press the pubic bone down. And now we'll add the little lift. So I have to flip the grip of my hand. As I push my foot, I push with my arm and lift.

And then lower and indulge into that lovely quad stretch again. And again, I push my foot into my hand, lift up. And then bring that all the way back down. And again, lift it up. Bring that all the way down.

Extend the leg out, one more time each way. And up, meaning three each way and come down (laughs). So again, another set, lift up, two. And take that down. And again, lift it up, three.

And bring that down. Extend it out and switch. And we go up. Bring it down. And then again, take it up.

Bring it down. And last one, lift. Bring that down. And extend all the way out. We'll get a counter stretch again, just push up and round it back.

We're gonna come forward now for an exercise that's gonna combine a lot of things for us. So, we're gonna refer back to many of our days from our challenge. Start on your hands and knees. Extend your left leg back, and maybe just reach it out to the corner of your mat. Your arms here are gonna actually just be doing like a pushup feeling.

So, I'm gonna be lifting my leg up, bending my arms, and taking this into a low arabesque. Press and lower the toe. So, breathe in to prepare. As you breathe out, you're gonna lift your leg, bend your arms and do your extension. Let your back exercise.

Inhale, return to start. Exhale, three. Inhale, pull up tight through the front of the body like a pike. Exhale, four. Inhale, up.

Exhale, five. Inhale, switch legs. Exhale, deepen through the belly, bend the arms and lift. Now do your extension, a little lift of the chin. And then inhale, toe to the floor, belly pulls up like a pike.

Exhale, let the back of the body work. Inhale, the leg comes down. So, we feel that same side butt work happening that we had in our hip day. And then we're also feeling the exercise all along the back that we've been working on throughout this class. And reach one last time, up.

And reach, bring the knee in. And let's sit back for a flat back stretch this time. So, rather than going for such a rounded shape, let's lengthen out. Even though I'm sitting back on my heels, this time I'm more reaching my tailbone up than trying to tuck it under. Let the fingertips reach as long and forward as they can on your mat.

And lean away from the hands. Think of reaching the tailbone up. Walk the hands over to one side, quick moment there for a side stretch. Other side. And back to the center.

We'll come up now to kneeling for a kneeling thigh stretch. And we're gonna take this into kind of a flowing dance. So, your arms are gonna start just beside you. First thing, just send your arms forward and lean back. Try not to look up on this.

My temptation is to always look up, but it kind of throws me off and I don't get as much range. So, look forward, let the head kind of softly move forward as you're doing this. Now this time, go back and here's our dance. We're gonna reach one arm down to the heel, and just reach the other arm up. Now from here, send this arm forward.

Send the other arm forward, then you dance the other way. Reach and the arm goes forward. Use your center as you reach and we go. Now let's see, can we challenge ourselves to get into a greater extension this time? And now, reach the arms forward.

And then again, see if you can send your hips forward for greater extension. And then reach the arms forward. Every time I'm doing this, I'm getting into a further thigh stretch than I started with. So it's weird, it kinda just gets easier, in a good way. I guess easier is good (laughs).

One more time each way. Reach, awe enjoy that extension. And then thigh stretch it back. And then reach and thigh stretch. And come up.

From here, bring your hands to the floor, tuck your toes, send your heels down and go into a little Down Dog stretch. We'll walk the feet a little closer together. And then begin to walk the hands back. Bend the knees as needed to be able to get your hands down on that floor. And roll all the way up.

The next thing we're gonna do is go into a even greater variation on swan than we're used to. So what that's gonna look like is from a plank position, we're taking it into a swan here. So the knees and the thighs will not be touching the mat as you do this. So, you're gonna be able to have a much greater range if your body can do it, and we're gonna really embrace the fact that the back is going to have to exercise to do this. Listen to your body, know your limits.

Let's give it a shot. Stand in a Pilates V stance, reach your arms up nice and high. You're just gonna take your arms, and reach down to the floor. Now, we're gonna walk out to a plank. That's gonna be our inhale.

Our exhale is gonna take us into the biggest arch you can get with your knees straight. And chin in, walk it back, two, three, roll it up. Again, take it down, walk it out, two, three. Take it into that swan, use your glutes, use your back, use your core. Chin pulls in, walk, one, two, three, bring yourself up.

Last time, dive it down. Take it out, one, two, three, send the hips forward, lift. Chin pulls in, walk back, two, three, roll it up. Up and rest. Thank you for joining me for that great workout for our backs.

I hope you feel better than when you began, and I will see you on day nine.

10-Day Pilates Reset Mat Challenge: with Carrie Pages


2 people like this.
Wow that class flew by! I am four years post partum and workout regularly but cannot get rid of the stretchy skin and loose belly flap (noticeable in my planks) but between the challenges, the zoom live classes, and the fantastic PA classes I feel stronger every day. Thanks for this Carrie your enthusiasm is great! 
2 people like this.
Loved that variation of swan/ up dog! My back is awake and strong! 
2 people like this.
loved all of these back extensions, my students backs are going to feel great after i work this into my lesson
2 people like this.
Is there a LOVE button? This might be my favorite in the serious, so far. LOVED the inverted 100. AND...that end swan-plank variation was a PERFECT ending. Felt spectacular. THANK YOU! 
1 person likes this.
That was my favorite so far, too. I loved the thigh stretch combination, even if I was doing it wrong at first...hehehe...was even better after I looked at the screen and corrected it!
1 person likes this.
Such GOOD work! Loved
1 person likes this.
not sure why but i actually got a headache whilst doing these poses ...might be a change in blood pressure not sure !
1 person likes this.
I enjoyed the class except for the last posture which I simply cannot do because my lower back hurts too much. 
1 person likes this.
Thank you for coaching me through that! The breakdowns really help. 
1 person likes this.
I loved it!  Will pass this on to my clients tomorrow. Your execution and cueing are awesome!! Thank you..
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