• Lauren Sok, PT, MPT

6 Pilates Exercises to Jump-Start Your Athletic Performance

If you’ve followed me for some time, you probably know Pilates is my go-to work out for shaping my midsection. But, I’m here to tell you that Pilates does much more than that! It can add some serious power to your workouts and give you the athletic edge you’ve been searching for.


Many people think Pilates involves lying on a mat and performing core exercises while moving your arms and legs. Well, Pilates actually includes equipment designed to wake up your muscles in all the ways you move: standing, kneeling, sitting, lying on your stomach, going onto your hands and knees, and even jumping. The key is to find a class that’s suited for athletic performance. Or, better yet, use some of the modifications I describe below to replicate them at home!


Here are some of my favorite exercises to enhance your performance both on and off the field, gym, road or wherever you train.


1. Kneeling Hip Thrusts


Kneeling hip thrusts are a great progression from the supine bridge. It enhances the ability to engage the glutes by extending the hips. It takes out lumbar extension much more than the traditional supine bridge position, allowing for better glute activation without compensating in the low back.


2. Standing Hip Hinge Rows


This is a great exercise to strengthen your posterior chain muscles, meaning your latissimus dorsi (V-shaped muscle in your upper back), glutes, and hamstrings. Learning how to properly hip hinge in a standing position is important because it’s functional to everyday life. We hip hinge to load the dishwasher, pick up our kids, or bend over to lift a cooler for the next tailgating event.


3. Half Kneeling Rotations


The half kneeling position is often overlooked in a well-rounded workout program. Kneeling forces you to recruit more deep core stabilizers because it requires a smaller base of support and you must remain tall in your trunk to get the most out of it. Because you can’t grip the ground with your knees, like in standing, more full-body balance is needed. Adding in cross body rotation (like this exercise) makes it functional because nothing in life occurs in straight planes of motion. We are rotating our trunk multiple times a day and this exercise will get our spine prepped for that demand. Another perk is that you will get a hip flexor stretch on the kneeling leg, which is great for desk workers and those with long car commutes.


4. Split Stance Rotations


The split stance is when you place one foot in front of the other with your feet hip distance apart. Why are different stances important when exercising? It challenges your body system in a new way so you can target different muscle groups. As shown, a single row in a split stance is an anti-rotation exercise. It forces the deep core stabilizers, hip flexors, and front thigh muscles to work together. It also provides a sort of single leg training because the front leg will do most of the work while the back leg gives support and balance.


5. Sliding Reverse Lunge


Reverse lunges are often easier on your joints than forward lunges. This is sometimes better for people who have knee problems, difficulty balancing or less mobility in their hips. It activates your core, glutes and hamstrings on the back leg but forces more stability of the quads on the front leg. Performing the reverse lunge with a reformer or slider under the back foot raises the challenge because it’s an unstable surface. It requires the hip abductors (outside muscles) and adductors (inside muscles) to turn on so the knee can stay aligned with the foot.


6. Standing Hip Abduction


Standing hip abduction is an exercise that challenges our frontal plane of motion, also known as our side to side movements. Because so many exercises are front to back motions, adding in some lateral work is key to a full body workout. These standing hip abduction exercises are a great way to superset an exercise circuit and wake up our inner and outer thigh muscles. Personally, I often add these between sets of heavy deadlifts. It’s a lower intensity exercise that gives my gluteus maximus a much needed break!


If you are ready to spice up your next workout and improve your athletic performance, we can help! Pilates will give you the one-two punch you’ve been searching for. Reach out and schedule an appointment with Lauren today!


Thanks for reading!

Lauren Sok PT, MPT

Owner/Founder


Fearless leader and mother of the team, Lauren took the leap to found Functionize in 2015 after nearly 20 years in conventional physical therapy practice with the ultimate goal of creating a new legacy for her family and her colleagues.

encouraging and enjoying an active lifestyle; as a result, she grew up watching them age

Finding energy in helping others and joy in watching them succeed, Lauren embraces childish enthusiasm and overt optimism in the face of entrepreneurship. Despite doubts and challenges, Lauren braved starting a cash-based physical therapy practice at a time when private-pay was a novel concept in the healthcare industry.

Raised in a small, blue-collar town in Pennsylvania, Lauren grew up with her parents constantly with grace and agility, which became a prime motivation for her to help others do the same. Lauren came to learn that a proactive approach to health and wellness is the key for living your fullest life. The first in her family to go to college, Lauren laid the foundation for Functionize in hard work and determination.

To create the dream team, Lauren carefully curated a culture comprised of dynamic, invested and innately curious experts in relentless pursuit of providing best-in-class care and a customized approach for each individual patient.

Lauren’s intention is for her clients to feel they have a coach, partner and friend in with Functionize. Her goal is to ensure every person who comes into the Functionize fold leaves the education, support and empowerment to regain control over health and optimize wellness. Ultimately, she is dedicated to disrupting the current approach to healthcare for one that focuses on humans as a whole as opposed to the sum of symptoms.

Today, Lauren lives in Dunwoody with her husband, Kevin, teenage twin boys, Ethan and Austin, and spunky daughter, Sienna. When she is not running between sporting events, networking socials, supper clubs, carpooling, and school volunteering, Lauren enjoys traveling, running, a lazy day on the beach, OrangeTheory Fitness, and exploring the food and events in Atlanta, GA.


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