Pilates Shoulder Bridge
Lie on your back with your feet hip width apart and on the floor as close to your butt as is comfortable. Rest your arms by your sides, palms down on the mat.
Inhale deeply as you engage your core and press through your heels and contract your glutes and hamstring to lift your hips up as high as you can. Exhale and hold this position.
Inhale as you lift your left leg up directly above your hip, straightening your knee.
Exhale as you slowly lower your leg so that the left thigh is parallel to the right thigh, then pause briefly before inhaling and lifting that leg up again. Keep your leg straight throughout the entire motion.
Continue lowering and lifting your left leg for a set number of repetitions before switching legs and repeating the motion on the right leg. Complete your repetitions on both legs before lowering your hips.
MODIFICATIONS: To further challenge your core, you can 1) Lift your hands and forearms up off the ground, pressing your elbows into the ground. 2) Lift both arms entirely off the mat, directly above your shoulders, using just the tips of your shoulders for balance. 3) Lift your arms above your shoulders and reach upwards, bringing your shoulder blades up from the floor to balance only on your spine (for the most challenge to your core muscles).
This is the next progression after the Shoulder Bridge Prep. The static hold and leg raise forces your core to do more work to stabilize your body, causing an extra calorie burn compared to the Prep. The leg raise coupled with the static bridge hold forces your body to work against its tendons and ligaments to increase strength and flexibility while toning and lengthening the muscles. This is truly a challenging Pilates move that helps achieve the long and lean look.