Pilates for Men

Why is it that in gym class back in grade school the boys could always do more push-ups than the girls? Why does my husband have such a hard time bending over to touch his toes?

We all know that there are fundamental differences between the female and male anatomy. Men typically have larger trunks than women do, and the thoracic cavity is flatter in shape. Generally, the male pelvis is narrower than a woman’s, and the placement of the acetabula where the legs bones rest, is more narrow.

It’s important to be aware of differences like these. We should consider them in the way we train our male Pilates clients.

Let’s take a look at a few key considerations when working with men in a Pilates context. I’ll also offer some insight into what movements and exercises are most beneficial for our male clients and why they’ll love them!

Unlocking the Upper Body

For the most part, men present with tight shoulders and thoracic spine due to larger musculature in the upper body, and shape of the thorax. Exercises that mobilize the upper spine will leave men feeling freer fast, and help show them the value of a Pilates workout.

Including exercises like supine thoracic rotation, quadruped Waving Cat, or the standing Kayak will leave your guys feeling great!

Waving Cat-3

Tip: using unstable props like the sit-fit, or roller with these exercises can help make male clients feel more challenged, and encourage better movement in the thoracic spine.

P is for Pelvis

Men need to work on their pelvic placement just as much as women. Having good alignment in the pelvis is key for proper lumbar support, and effective use of the core. It can be uncomfortable to discuss the pelvis in depth with male clients. A great way to kill two birds with one stone is to address the tightness in the hamstrings that so many men suffer from.

My go-to exercise is standing elephant. The guys in the class get a stretch they can really feel in the back of their legs, while encouraging better lumbo-pelvic rhythm.

Standing Elephant2

Tip: watch that your men don’t over extend into a “sway back” position, or pelvic thrust as they come back into standing. Try using the image of a drawbridge, being drawn up by the back of the legs.

Just for Sport

Many men choose to get their exercise by joining a sport team or recreational group. Linking the movements we do in Pilates to a sport can be a helpful way to communicate the importance of certain exercises to a man. “More thoracic rotation and strength in your core will improve your golf swing.” Connecting the dots between the sport a male client loves to play in your next Pilates session, can influence the quality of movement and focus he has on the mat.

For more on Men on the Move check out our workshop coming up November 28th, Mind-Body Exercise for Men.

Brittany Coughlan


Brittany Coughlan For more info on music, Pilates and more, check out Brittany’s blog at ftpilates.ca .

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