The shoulder stand is a classic pilates move to build abdominal strength. It also tests your balance and co-ordination along with increasing body awareness and control.
Make sure you’re on a mat or soft surface for this exercise to support your back and hips on the down phase.
Lie on your back with your arms long by your side, palms facing the floor and your legs long on the mat.
- Activate your core by drawing down through your navel and lifting up through the pelvic floor.
- Slowly bring your legs up to the ceiling whilst your bum stays on the matt and then pause for a brief moment to stop momentum.
- Using your arms for support, lift your hips up towards the ceiling bringing your feet over your face. Lift to where you deem comfortable and hold at the top for 1-2 secs.
- Reverse the exercise by slowly rolling down your spine one vertebrae at a time until your hips are back on the mat and then slowly lower your legs, keeping them long, down to the floor.
Inhale to lift the legs to the ceiling, exhale as you shoulder stand up. Inhale as you pause at the top and then exhale as you slowly roll down. Continue the exhale as the feet lower to the floor.
Start out with 2 sets of 8-10 repetitions and increase from there. It’s a pretty difficult exercise so make sure you go at your own pace.
- To load the abdominals more, have your feet pointing more towards the ceiling /straight up and less over the face. This will also be harder to control.
- At the top of the movement scissor the legs by bringing one leg closer to the face, pause for a second and switch legs before both meet back at the top and you continue with the down phase of the exercise.
To add KX intensity to the exercise, place a pilates circle or toning ball in between the ankles to activate your inner thighs throughout the exercise. You can also add a basic crunch between shoulder stands to really target all areas of the abdominals.
Aaron Smith is the CEO & Founder – KX Group. KX is a boutique fitness company with 17 studios across Melbourne and Sydney, offering dynamic pilates, barre and yoga. KX also run international retreats to Vanuatu and Bali.
Model: Pia Muehlenbeck
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