Pilates Week 3 – Breast Stroke Preps

3 Weeks into my challenge and today’s exercise was one of my least favourites when I began pilates but now as an instructor I understand why my first pilates instructor used to say “the exercises you like the least are the ones you need to do the most”.

In my opinion she hit the nail on the head, the reason I hated this one was that I spend 8 hours a day at a desk with upper back flexed forward towards my computer.  Hence this exercise for upper back extension was something my body said no I don’t like doing that and please don’t make me.  Now because I am a good student I did what I was told and this exercise is now one of my favourites, it helps me get my upper back into extension and work those lazy muscles that think they don’t need to hold me up all day!

So this is for all you office workers out there who, like me, struggle with neck tension and headaches, try and do these every night and your back and neck will thank you for it.

Breast Stoke Preps

Goal : Develop even and sequential extension in upper spine and connection with middle back extens

Target Muscles: Tranversus abdominis, deep pelvic floor, mid and upper erecter spinae, obliques and hip extensors, Scapular stabilisers


Step 1. Lie on your tummy with a neutral pelvis, hands by your shoulders palms facing down.  Extend legs along the mat together or hip distance apart, feet are pidgeon toed if you have low back tightness.

Inhale to prepare.


Step 2. As you exhale, stabilise your shoulders, apply slight pressure through your forearms and gently extend your upper back upwards allowing your ribcage to open up but keep the bottom rib in contact with the mat.  Inhale and reach your chest away from your toes.

Step 3. Exhale as you lengthen back down onto your mat.

Repetitions: Five


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