Whether your a beginner or a life long fan of Pilates, the aim of the game is to achieve a level of fitness, strength, mobility and flexibility that allows you to perform ‘the moves’ and feel good.
But as with all forms of exercise, it’s easy to plateau – to find your progression (and perhaps your interest) wanes.
So how do you progress with Pilates?
Pilates progression, like all forms of exercise is based on two basic training principles:
The Specificity of Training Principle and The Overload Principle.
The Specificity of Training Principle states that the body will adapt to whatever specific demand you place on it. Be it your Pilates One Hundred, a 40kg deadlift or long distance running.
If you’re a beginner to Pilates it may take a while for your body to adapt to the new exercises (I always reckon 3-4 weeks is a real turning point) but this is great since you won’t hit a plateau (training plateau where you stop progressing) as quickly as Pilates regulars.
Once you can do the exercises however, you’ll maintain your fitness levels or ‘ability to do Pilates’ levels but won’t progress.
This is where the Overload Principle comes in to play.
The Overload Principle states that to continually adapt, the body must be placed under a stress that exceeds the body’s current capabilities.
This is a little easier to do when you are using weights or running than it is in Pilates. Remember in Pilates we never want to stress the body to the point we are holding our breath, bracing or using the ‘wrong’ muscles. It’s not a sweat it out gym workout. It’s much more considered.
But you can still work the edge of your own comfort zone rather than staying comfortable and daydreaming!
This is where an instructor who’s on your case and continually adapting the programme is much more beneficial to your body than a drop in class where the programme rarely changes or progresses.
So this is why there are progressions to each exercise and why I always stress that it’s about your comfort zone, not that of the person next to you.
Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.