This 10 minute Pilates workout video will help you reduce low back pain by stretching, strengthening and stabilizing the muscles that support the spine.
Is back pain putting a real cramp in your style? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that women are more likely to experience back pain — as well as other forms of chronic pain — than men.
(As if dealing with periods, child-birth and menopause weren’t enough, now we get to bear the brunt of chronic pain. Those men seem to get off so dang easy!)
To be fair, it’s not really the men’s fault. Things like differences in pelvic structure, hormonal changes and the physical impact of pregnancy are all contributing factors.
But just because you’re more likely to experience back pain, doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Whether you’re looking to prevent low back pain or reduce its intensity, a gentle Pilates routine that focuses on strengthening and stretching the muscles that support the spine will go a long way in helping.
So grab your exercise mat and press play on today’s home workout video.
Pilates To Reduce Low Back Pain
P.S. Did you know that back pain can be caused from having overly tight hips? Try these stretches and feel the difference!
Today’s Pilates resistance band workout will strengthen your muscles, improve your posture, and increase your flexibility. All you need is a resistance band (a.k.a exercise band or Theraband) and your workout mat.
Pilates emphasizes core strength, postural alignment, mobility and breath, making it a really important component of your overall workout routine.
But to fully reap these benefits, your flow should be focused around the six Pilates principles: breathing, concentration & control, centering, balanced muscle development, flow, and relaxation.
Before we unroll our mats for today’s video, let’s take a quick peek at each of these principles.
In the words of my old mate Joe Pilates: “Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.” Breathing calms our wandering mind and allows us to focus on our physical body. In Pilates we INHALE through the nose and EXHALE through the mouth; a strong exhale activates the deep abdominal muscles. If you get confused with the breathing just remember to exhale on the most challenging phase of each movement.
Concentration & Control
Intentional movement focuses on form and alignment, rather than speed and repetition — it is better to do five perfect reps of an exercise, than 20 without paying attention. I encourage you to listen to your body, maintain your alignment, and modify any exercises that feel too challenging.
The core is the center of the body and acts as both your anchor and your compass. In Pilates we initiate the core before every movement, even for something as simple as lifting an arm or a leg. To activate your abdominals, exhale through your mouth while drawing the belly button towards your spine. If you notice your belly push out during an exercise, stop what you’re doing and reconnect your abs.
Balanced Muscle Development
Our body is designed to move in multiple directions, and we can use our Pilates workout to honor that. In today’s video we are tapping into EVERYTHING: front and back, side to side, bend and flex, and stretch and strengthen… it’s going to feel great!
Rhythm and flow is my favorite aspect of Pilates. It feels so natural for my body to move in a way that is fluid and functional, while also creating a calm sense of balance for body, mind and spirit. At first you may feel a little clunky trying today’s routine, but after repeating it once you will be able to flow with ease.
Remember, Jennifer Dene Wellness is about feeling fit, feminine and fabulous in the simplest way possible. Don’t make exercise harder than it has to be, and don’t believe the hype that workouts need to be exhausting to be effective. Use as much effort as you need to in order to perform each exercise correctly, but then no more. Relax your shoulders, relax your jaw, and at the end of the session take a few moments to simply lie on your mat and enjoy the stillness.
Choosing The Right Resistance Band
In the video I chat about choosing a the right resistance band for Pilates workouts. The bands that you can buy in a set of three, with three different weight tensions, tend to be too heavy and short for Pilates. Instead, I buy a long roll of Theraband and cut it into three generous lengths; blue is a nice weight for intermediate fitness levels. (Purchase your exercise band here.)
Now let’s do it to it!
Pilates Resistance Band Workout
This is an intermediate Pilates mat workout. If you are a beginner, move more slowly and take the most basic option in each exercise. I wanted to get as much done in 18 minutes as possible so I’m moving at quite a clip, you can always pause the video if you need a little more time. I recommend repeating today’s workout three times this week.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
Did you enjoy today’s Pilates workout? I hope so! Which of the six Pilates principles do you find most challenging, and which comes most naturally to you? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Last year I wrote an article for Mind Body Green that has since been shared over 20,000 times. Basically I’m explaining why, despite being a Pilates and personal trainer, I never want a six-pack. I guess it struck a chord with some people.
While you may think that having a six-pack equals strong abs, it’s not necessarily the case.
A six-pack is formed by strengthening the outer layer of abdominals — the superficial rectus abdominis — through crunches and similar exercises. And while it’s great to have strong outer abs, it’s what’s underneath that really counts.
Side note: You can absolutely have strong outer abs without seeing a “six-pack”. Usually a healthy level of body fat will prevent us from seeing this definition. And if having a six-pack means giving up cheese, bread and wine… I will always choose the cheese, bread and wine!
Before you press play on today’s workout, let’s take a peek underneath the hood at why core-strength is the new sexy:
The six-pack is the least important muscle for spinal support.
Without getting too technical, the deep core muscles (transversus abdominis and erector spinae) are what matters most when it comes to strengthening and stabilizing our spine. Here’s why they need your attention…
Improves posture — and reduces shrinking as we age
Helps with breathing and digestion, as correct postural alignment gives your organs room to do their thing!
A strong core can reduce the likelihood or severity of diastasis.
Diastasis is a separation of the outer abdominal muscles, which often happens during and after pregnancy.
While you shouldn’t be alarmed if you’ve experienced diastasis, you do want to get on top of it as soon as possible.* If ignored diastasis can lead to chronic low back pain, lumbar instability, digestive issues and hernias.
(*Note: please get medical clearance before beginning any new workout routine, especially post-pregnancy or surgery.)
So, how do you fix it? Crunches exacerbate diastasis and can further weaken an already weak core. To draw the outer abs back towards midline you need to use flexion-free core exercises, such as those that I’ll show you below.
There’s no point in building the house on a rocky foundation.
The real benefit to starting with crunch-free ab exercises is this: you can do hundreds of sit-ups every day, but without a strong foundation you won’t be getting any benefit.
Now let’s train!
10 Minute Crunch Free Ab Workout
Here Are The Moves
Seated Abdominal Breathing: Sit comfortably with your hands on the belly and your spine nice and straight. Inhale and let the belly expand towards your hands, exhale and engage your abdominals to pull the belly back in towards the spine. Repeat 10 – 12 repetitions.
All-Fours Abdominals: Start on hands and knees, with the wrists under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Keep the spine straight and still. Inhale to let the belly hang down, and exhale to engage your abdominals and pull the belly up towards your spine. Repeat 6-8 repetitions.
Kneeling Hovers: From the all-fours position, keep your abdominals engaged and hover the knees one inch away from the floor. Lower them down. Repeat for 6-10 repetitions.
Plank Step Backs: From the all-fours position, step one foot at a time back to plank position, without releasing your abdominal engagement. Repeat a total of 8-10 repetitions.
Single Leg Lifts: Start lying on your back, and gently press the low spine into the mat. Engage the abdominals before lifting one knee at a time to 90º (“tabletop position”). Return the feet to the mat, keeping the belly flat and the spine neutral. If the belly pops out (i.e. you lose core engagement) only lower the toes halfway.Repeat 8-10 repetitions.
Marching: Start with both knees in tabletop position. Tap one toe at a time towards the mat, before pulling it back up. Keep the belly flat and the spine neutral. Repeat 8-10 repetitions.
Frog Presses: Start lying on your back, with the knees lifted and the heels together, knees slightly open. Keep the low back against the floor and extend the legs away on a high 45º angle. Pull them back in. If the belly pops out (i.e. you lose core engagement) take the legs higher to the sky. Repeat 10-12 repetitions.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
What kind of ab exercises are part of your workout routine? How did the moves from today’s video feel? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Today’s upper body workout will target your chest, shoulders and mid-back, without putting too much strain on your wrists. You can do these three moves back-to-back as a mini-workout, sprinkle them individually into your normal exercise routine, or add it to last week’s low impact leg workout for a full body strength series.
I used to hate upper body work. I couldn’t do a pushup to save my life and planks were the bane of my existence … naughty Pilates instructor.
But one day I grit my teeth and set my mind to getting stronger, and that’s when I began to see real changes.
O.K, so I’m by no means “jacked”.
And I don’t think that anyone will ever call me The Jenninator — which is probably a good thing, come to think of it — but I am satisfied and a little proud of myself to have gotten to where I am.
These days, if you’ll allow me to brag just a little, I can do full pushups, lift some fairly heavy weights, and rock out a 5 minute+ plank. That’s nothing to be sneezed at.
But it took time. A couple of years in fact. Which is a nice reminder that yes, slow and steady does win the race when it comes to fitness.
The three moves that I’m sharing with you today are the kind of low impact arm exercises that helped me build that strength. While they’re not overly complicated, they are surprisingly challenging, and are a perfect addition to your current routine no matter what level of fitness you are.
These are the kind of exercises that might not look like much, but after 10 reps…phew! Just remember:
Moving slowly, and maintaining excellent form, will get you stronger faster than smashing out dozens of reps incorrectly (which will just lead to injury).
Below the video I’ve added a few tips about each move, so be sure to read them before you get started.
Then I would love to hear from you, so please join in the discussion at the bottom of the page!
This is exercise is terrific and surprisingly challenging, especially if you do a lot of work that keeps your arms in front of your body (hello computer time, driving, ironing…).
The constant forward position that we adopt during our daily activities tightens the chest and weakens the mid back, which is why cactus glides should be a part of your daily routine.
Keep your ribs pulled in and press the mid back (i.e. the section in between your shoulder blades and around the bra line) firmly against the wall.
Your hands may not be able to touch the wall at the beginning. That’s ok and it gives you something to work towards.
If you need a little elevation you can sit on a few cushions. This will help you lengthen your spine.
Spinal Balance Push Up
The primary focus here is on lengthening the spine and maintaining a neutral pelvis. To do this:
Push the heel of the extended leg firmly in to the wall with all 5 toes pointing straight down.
Both hip points are also pointing directly down to the ground.
Lengthen the crown of the head away from the foot, maintaining a flat back.
Firmly press into the hand that’s on the floor, and spiral the inner elbow forwards, keeping a little bend in that arm.
To advance, lift the arm, without changing anything else in the body.
To advance even more, bend both elbows, tucking them in towards the ribs, for a narrow pushup. The leg lifts in opposition so the spine shape has not changed, it has simply hinged.
Wall Push Ups (Clap)
These may not seem challenging at first, especially if you tend to do regular push ups, but it’s all about the technique.
Maintain the long spine that you created in the previous exercise.
The only thing moving is the bend and straighten of the elbow joint.
As you power away from the wall and take that clap think about your abdominals doing the work, and draw the belly button in even more deeply.
Need a little extra? Lift one leg a couple of inches, but don’t change the hip position.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You
Is upper body training part of your current workout routine? What upper body exercise have you struggled the most with in the past? And what has been your favorite?
Mixing things up in the gym is important for your fitness AND your motivation. Today’s low impact leg exercises will be sure to catch your attention!
Having pin-up worthy pins is not only good for your confidence. Strong legs support your spine, increase your agility and condition your body to burn more calories (even during sleep).
Unfortunately many leg exercises rely on large ranges of motion, heavy resistance and high intensity, in order to be effective…which is not so hot if you’ve got wonky knees or a weak pelvic floor.
The three moves that I’m sharing with you today can be done back-to-back as a short workout, or included in your regular exercise routine.
TIP: Learn the moves now and then add them into your daily walk.
Walk three blocks and repeat three rounds of horrible lunges
Walk another block and do three rounds of crab walks
Walk another block and finish up with three rounds of pliés
Walk home (or, should I say, strut your stuff)
Yes, your neighbors will look at you quizzically — I suggest asking them to join you.
These leg exercises are terrifically effective and you don’t need any equipment. Here’s some things to keep in mind:
Pick Your Own Pace
You can do these moves as quickly or slowly as you like. I prefer to take things low and slow to keep the muscles under tension, but whatever gives you that burn, baby, burn kind of feeling.
Repeat each of these exercises for three sets. Beginners — aim for 10 repetitions per set; intermediate — 15-20 repetitions; advanced — 30 repetitions. Rest for 10-20 seconds between sets. Rest for 45 seconds between exercises.
Need More Challenge?
Hold a heavy weight at your chest for each of these moves, I recommend 10 – 30 pounds.
I’m excited to be here with you for the first workout on Jennifer Dene Wellness! Today I’ve designed a 9 minute low impact cardio workout that you can do in the privacy of your own home. It’s going to be gentle on joints while still getting your heart rate up, and toning your entire body.
But before you tie your laces and press play on today’s video I want to briefly talk about feeling insecure during exercise classes, and what to do about it.
Have you ever experienced going to a new gym, or exercise class, and feeling totally out of place; like you’re the only one in the room who can’t seem to get the moves right, or keep up the pace? This can feel embarrassing, and demoralizing, and it might be enough to stop you from going back. BUT, you’re definitely not the only one that feels this way.
Since 2009 I’ve taught hundreds (probably thousands) of fitness classes across the globe, yet I regularly still feel out of place when attending a new class, gym or studio.
The truth is that there are always going to be other women who are fitter than you, louder/more confident than you, and even more stylish than you in the workout room.
Oh yes, fitness fashion has created several uncomfortable moments for me since I’ve lived in Los Angeles. Everyone here dresses for the gym as though they just stepped out of a commercial. I, on the other hand, show up in a 4 year old pair of tights and a t-shirt that my husband bought me at Disneyland. Not so cool.
Don’t let the details, like not knowing the moves or not having the right outfit, prevent you from getting fit and healthy. With that in mind, here are three things that I want you to remember before you start today’s workout:
The Only Wrong Action Is Inaction
If you press play on this video and give it your best effort, then you have already won. Remember that this healthy living thing isn’t rocket science, and by simply committing to a regular routine you will quickly become fitter, energized and more confident.
You Might Not Get It Right The First Time
So you may feel like a baby giraffe who is still trying to find it’s legs when you do today’s workout. That’s ok! Commit to doing this video three times this week, and by the third time you will feel much more natural.
It’s YOUR Fitness, YOUR Schedule, YOUR Life
What I love about at-home workouts is that you can do them whenever it’s convenient without worrying about anyone else watching. But this is also the challenging part as you need to commit to doing this workout (preferably now), and not stopping halfway through just because no one is there to push you.
I’ll repeat, this is YOUR fitness, YOUR schedule, YOUR life. So make the best decision for you.
A Low Impact Cardio Workout For Full Body Toning
Here’s what to do next:
Put on your shoes and clear a space on the floor. You will need to have access to something elevated, such as a bed, couch or a stable kitchen chair.
Press play on today’s low impact cardio workout. Give it your best effort but know that it won’t be perfect. I’ll provide modifications that you can take, and remember that you can always move faster or more slowly than I am.
Leave a comment below. Let me know once you’ve done the workout and how it made you feel! Hearing from you will help me to create new workouts that suit your needs.
It’s been such fun working out with you today and I can’t wait to do it again soon! Make sure that you’ve signed up for Jennifer Dene Wellness updates so that every new workout is delivered straight to your inbox. You can do that by clicking here.
Jennifer Dene XO
P.S. Still in doubt about your fitness ability? Just remember this mantra: Fake It AND You’ll Make It.
Ah, exercise. I know you’re good for me, but do I really have to see you every day?
The answer, my friends, is yes.
The good news is that exercise doesn’t have to be grueling, sweaty and uncomfortable. In fact, with a little know-how you can actually make exercise fun.
The benefits of daily physical activity are numerous, covering everything from improved mobility and mental health, to lowering the risk of many diseases.
But it’s the daily part that really counts.
If you want to be the best version of yourself then a short walk three days a week just won’t cut it.
The easiest way to be consistent, and make this an every day habit, is to choose a style of movement that is fun and enjoyable.
Ditch the bootcamp and get fit, feminine & fabulous with exercises that you love. Click To Tweet.
If you’ve given up on exercise because you think that it’s too hard, or boring, or, *gasp*, not important then you need to press play on today’s video.
In the next few minutes you’ll learn exactly the kind of (fun) exercises you should be doing on a daily basis, how to fit them in to your schedule, and I’ll give you the key to kickstart this healthy habit.
Once you’ve had a chance to watch, I’d love to hear from you.
What’s your absolute favorite kind of exercise?
Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.
Click the image to download your free Self Love Checklist!
Just to recap, here’s your task for today:
Write down all the types of movement that you really enjoy doing. It might include things like walking, bike riding, swimming, dance, yoga, Pilates, ice skating, surfing … even gardening.
Select one of these activities to do everyday this week (preferably something free and easy, such as walking or riding a bike), and a second activity that you might only do once or twice (such as dance or Pilates).
Schedule these activities on your calendar, every day.
Put on your shoes and go and do that first, every day activity right now. Even if you only have time for 5 or 10 minutes, we need to kickstart that new habit in this very moment.
Then dive into the final video, where you’ll be reminded to live boldly and say yes to new experiences.
Thank you so much for joining me here on Jennifer Dene Wellness. I know that together we will create a bright, healthy and purpose-filled future for ourselves, and the women that come after us.
P.S. Don’t forget to download your Self Love Checklist. Here it is.