This Pilates-inspired workout has turned up the cinching and sculpting to give your body the challenge it craves.
This workout is based on the moves you do on the Megaformer—a more souped-up version of a traditional Pilates reformer that looks like an elevated gliding platform with lots of moving parts and springs. It’s also the hot new way to get the toning benefits of Pilates with the added strengthening and aerobic work you might expect from boot camp class. “The Megaformer effectively combines strength, endurance, cardio, balance, core, and flexibility training— in not only one session but every move,” says Tracy Carlinsky, the lead trainer at SLT, a popular Megaformer studio with locations across the Northeast. (You need to watch Instagram sensations @GirlWithNoJob and @BoyWithNoJob attempt an SLT class on camera.)
Here, Carlinsky has distilled one of the Megaformer’s most effective muscle-firming tricks—the ability to stretch out the burn of a rep by forcing you to do a slow-motion contraction—into a resistance-band workout with gliding disks (or a set of hand towels). When muscles contract slowly through their entire range of motion without using momentum, it can help activate your slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are notoriously hard to tax, Carlinsky says. (Next up: more need-to-know muscle facts.)
The gliders mimic the moving portion of a Megaformer by providing an unstable surface, forcing you to focus on core stabilization as you move. The resistance bands re-create the tension of the machine’s adjustable spring coils. “Controlling the band slowly as you lift as well as lower places more emphasis on both the concentric and eccentric—or shortening and lengthening—phases of muscle contraction,” Carlinsky says. “That’s because your muscles have to contract not only to create movement but to resist the rebound of the band while they lengthen.”
Her eight-move sequence is designed to “burn out” one side of the body first and then be repeated on the other side. By challenging one side at a time with compound exercises, you’ll maximize your results, because each muscle will be effectively stimulated, Carlinsky says. Instead of counting reps for each exercise, you’ll focus on what she calls “time under tension”—the amount of time your muscles are continuously working. Then you’ll move immediately to the next exercise without resting. If your muscles shake at the end of a set, you’ll know you’ve tapped their limits, and that’s where the results really get started. (Obsessed? Next, try these at-home Lagreeexercises inspired by the Megaformer’s big sister, the Supra.)
How it works: You’ll do each move on the right side for the length of time indicated before repeating the moves on the left. Each should be performed on a slow 4- to 6-count pace in both directions.
Total Time: up to 30 minutes
Scale it up: Add a push-up between reps
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4. Donkey Curl
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7. Oblique Pike
8. Oblique Thread