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Let’s get down with Plies

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  • Let’s get down with Plies

    Originally posted by Lannette 06-08-2003, 9:56 PM

    One of the first things that strike me about plies is that we are asked to perform KLT in a more advanced position. In PBS we perform a KLT stance in a parallel hip width stance. In plies we take to a turned out shoulder width stance. This can be really hard to get the hang of for some people depending upon body type and hip flexibility but they are great for hitting the lower body in a different way, especially those inner thighs once we get the hips open enough.

    I usually have people stand with their heels just outside of their shoulders to get a ball park feel for how far to separate their feet. Feet should not be turned way out like a ballet plie but rather turned out 30 degrees to at most 45 degrees. If you can’t hold your KLT when you at the bottom of a plie you are either turning out your feet too far or dropping too low. Next I like to have people put their hands palms facing back, one hand on top of the other on their lower back and then roll their shoulders up back and down and pull down gently with their hands in order to pull shoulders back and directly over their hips. You will feel like you’re on the verge of falling backwards and that’s a sign that you’ve activated more muscle through proper linear alignment.

    Once your feet are positioned and shoulders aligned soften your knees and think of dropping your tail bone to the ground as if there was a heavy weight pulling it down then tuck under really hard. Next really press those knees over your little toes from the hip joint.

    One of the biggest mistakes I see with plies is that people think only of dropping down and in turn either drop too low, lose their KLT, lose their tuck or both. Don’t think of dropping down at all but rather think of pulling your knees back over your little toes and out away from each other. This pulling movement will cause you to drop down but only to your best level. Try a few plies this way without any arm movements.

    Plies also work our left, right brain and coordination with arm movement that crosses over the midline of the body. A long time ago Sherry pointed out the arm and upper body potential of plies and I’ll never stop being grateful to her for doing so.

    I like to tell people to move their arms with awareness and a sense of purpose. It’s easy to just throw the arms through the motions once you get the hang of it but by moving your arms with a sense of purpose you will reach a whole new level.

    Think full range of motion. Don’t just think of an “around” movement when you circle your arms be aware of also reaching out and away from the midline as you circle. When your elbows are in at the waist think of pulling them forward without letting your ribs pop out. This better contracts the lats as well as the shoulders and back of the arms. During jumping jacks be certain to flip the palms out and away at the top and then reach out out out and awaaaaay as you stretch your arms back down. Again, all of these pointers help you activate more muscle.

    When you raise the elbows to open the arms in and out get those elbows up to shoulder height and keep them there and pull your elbows out and away from the midline of your body to activate more muscle. As you open and close your elbows pretend you’re pulling your arms through very thick syrup. Resist the movement to again use more muscle.

    When you raise your hands above your head think ear sandwich. Twist those palms forward and keep those arms behind the ear as much as possible. If you’re tight this could take time to perfect but it’s oh so worth the effort.

    If you are a T-Tapp beginner or find Plies to be a real challenge do not feel that you must try to implement every form tip available at once. First get the basic form then work on your lower body form so you will have a stable base. Next work on the upper body form and muscle contraction maximizer tips. There’s so much more going on during Plies than it would appear.

    Ok, there are some basic tips. Now how about all of you sharing your Plie stories, tips and the A-Ha moments you've had since you started T-Tapping.

  • #2
    And some other posts that *disappered* from this thread

    Monica: By not being able to "hold" KLT I mean that some people can set up the move well enough but are then not able to hold the form through to the end as they tire. Knees may roll in, butts pop out or as Suzi (HI SUZI!!!) pointed out they may even lean forward to check their KLT and lose the shoulder alignment.

    If you are struggling with a move I always suggest trying it at a separate time, when you aren't in the middle of a workout.

    Then you can take the time to move slowly, stop when necessary and look in the mirror(s)(or at your sliding glass door reflection) and see exactly when you are breaking form.

    Maggie, trust me these doughnuts you do not want to bite. Seriously, since they were Manon's A-Ha moment I'm going to give her a chance to come in and explain them in her own way. (Hopefully she'll see this and do so but if not I'll be back.)

    Tracey, Yes, plies are difficult! They are demanding on many levels. Cardiovascularly (all that muscular movement makes them a real huff and puffer.), coordination-wise (one thing going on below the belt and another above and sometimes moving in the opposite direction!), right left brain (the arms cross the midline of the body multiple times). What you are doing is fine, when my clients find them to be just too difficult to do I have them initially do 4 slow controlled plies without arms and then hold the LB position without plies and do the arms on their own and then gradually mix the two together until they are able to them all.

    Sometimes when they begin doing the arms and legs together they end up doing only 4 reps of each arm variation with plies then a stop rest until the next arm variation at which time they do 4 reps and then rest etc. Eventually they are able to do 6 reps and then finally 8.

    I also feel that doughnut hands allows you to get a deeper and more even engagement of more total UB muscle for a better overall pump. To see what I mean by this stand in KLT and perform a few arm moves first with clenched fists and then using the doughnut hand position. For me with clenched fists there can be so much forearm stimulation that it's easy to lose the upper arm contraction but when I use the doughnut hands position I get a much more even but also deeper total UB pump.

    When I teach plies, I always teach it first with just lower body. I've found if we move too quickly into adding arms, immediately the lower body form is lost. When we add arms, at first we just assume the plies stance. In other words we're holding the plie with slightly bent knee to little toe, butt tucked and shoulders in alignment. But we don't bend the legs. Just holding that stance throughout the arm sequence is tough enough. And the fat-burning is definitely happening!

    There is just so much to pay attention to with this move. As you said, there is so much more to this move than you first see.

    When we first learning the move, we usually start with hands on hips and thumbs in small of back, pressing elbows as far to the back of body as possible to align the hips, but can't wait to try your arm position.

    One additional thing I've noticed is that many people don't totally straighten their legs (tighten at the top) at the top of the move. This can cause a bulky thigh (YIKES! NOT THAT!). If you have a hard time "getting" how to tighten the leg, try thinking about raising your knee caps. This will tighten your legs for you.

    My own personal aha was when I finally "got" how to tuck butt AND push knee back on the way up. When I finally got that twist feeling at my hips, I knew I was there.

    I love the power of plies. I think it is one of the most effective and comprehensive moves in the workout.


    • #3
      Piglet2u 07-16-2009, 11:24 AM

      Tamra, plies are the most challenging part of More for me. My left knee has prior injuries and makes kind of like popping or crunching noises when I try to squat. My right knee does sometimes, too.

      I have more than 150 lbs to lose, like Heather did and I am in my mid 50's. I would love it if you could help me overcome my weak and injured knees. Is it just going to have to wait until I drop a lot more weight?

      Thanks for all your sharing. It's great. I sometimes feel overwhelmed trying to remember all the great coaching tips from everyone here. I try to copy and paste but still end up with pages to try to implement.

      just7 07-16-2009, 11:30 AM

      Baby Steps, remember?

      I'm not Tamara, but I thought I'd chime in to encourage you piglet2u. Slow and steady, doing what You, Personally, can and then slowly adding in other things. Go to YOUR personal max and feel great that you are able to do that! Little by little, bit by bit....

      I hope this helps....

      BlessedMama 07-16-2009, 11:43 AM

      No trainer here, either, piglet, but remember to not have too wide of a stance. Just like Lannette said in this post (THANKS Tamara, for bumping it and completing it!), it's not how far down you go. If you only get 2 inches of movement, woo-hoo!

      homefire, who is a friend of mine (and on the 6 weeks thread except she's been busy lately!) had broken her kneecap in an ice skating fall. After she had been off of it for 12 weeks, just graduated from the cane she fell on ice--and broke it again!

      You can imagine she thought she'd never get lunges or plies! She has really rehabbed that knee to where it is no longer a major problem! She can do lunges now even!

      It takes time. Don't push that area too much--just build up to it s-l-o-w-l-y.

      And Tamara has given great advice, too! DO call the office if you can't find the info you need!

      MommyMc 07-16-2009, 01:36 PM

      Hi! I started T-Tapp June 4th. I am down 3lbs and 21 inches!! I'm so excited!! This is the FIRST EXERCISE I CAN DO WITHOUT KILLING MY KNEES!! I have had 3knee surgeries on the left knee and 1 surgery on the right. I basically had no quad muscles, lots of flubber. T-tapp was very hard to do in the beginning, but I do it 5 days a week. My plies started off not very well... ditto for lunges. But now I am doing really well with them! I can actually get through all the reps and "tuck at the top"! I can even see muscle definition in my quads and around the knee cap!! I am so thrilled and my knees have never felt better!! Before T-Tapp I could barely walk up my house stairs, I had to hold onto the railing near the top to help myself along. Now I just zip up the stairs... no problems!!

      In the beginning my knees would swell, no pain. I went to my doc to make sure they were ok and he said they were great, the swelling was the lymphatic flow flowing and it was just getting cought up in my knees because of the past surgeries. He told me to work through it and wear the tight braces you can buy at Walmart. I've done just that and the swelling is gone!
      Oh... by the way, I too hear the crunching and popping sounds in my knees.

      Take it slow, just keep doing it! Your knees WILL get stronger!!
      Good luck!!

      perhaps0810 07-17-2009, 07:54 AM

      Piglet, I also have bad knees. My right kneecap was broken into several pieces and I have a rod in my left leg from knee to hip. For just about a full year I didn't do plies, I just held the stance and did the arm movements. It has only been the last few months that I'm actually doing plies. I think holding the position for all those many months is really what strengthened all the muscles around my knees, so now they feel protected. So you might want to try just holding it for a few months and see if that helps.

      AlikaB 07-18-2009, 04:23 PM

      I actually love plies, and I have bad knees! When I first tried T-Tapp plies, I thought I was really feeling it, but I realized that my feet actually weren't far enough apart. Once I widened my stance slightly, I could feel it so much more!

      My husband decided to try T-Tapp with me, and he pointed out to me that he doesn't think I'm bending my knees enough. BUT I'm bending my knees as far as I possibly can, and I'm keeping the correct that must mean I'm doing it to my max. lol My legs feel awesome after I do plies.

      gunnersmom 11-14-2009, 06:59 PM

      Thanks piglet, mamma, and perhaps. I just did my FIRST MORE workout today and then knee thing is a major concern for me as well. I've only had one knee surgery about11 or 12 years ago then I fell on it and refused to go through another surgery. So, I've been one footing the stairs and hanging onto rails for years now. I walk really well, I just have no knee flexibility and am scared to death of falling down.

      So, what I've learned here today is that I really need to be sure I can do what I'm attempting and if not, to just hold the position, that will help strengthen my knees to get me to the move.

      A question if you will. I sit for long hours with my job. My knees actually seem to "freeze" and when I try to get up it is with great difficulty, holding onto my desk and finally stretching the knee out as I hobble around. It takes ten or twenty steps for the knee to unfreeze. Anyone else have this problem? Any ideas if the plies will help this a lot?

      BlessedMama 11-14-2009, 08:51 PM

      gunnersmom, I would just do the plies as in MORE for now--where you don't go up and down with all the arms moves.

      I've had that with my hip--not quite as severe, and I don't know what specifically helped, but one day when I got out of our van after a long ride, I just started walking normally instead of the "10 steps of granny hobble" I used to have to do!

      The forums are kind of quiet on the weekends--maybe start a separate thread on Monday "Question for Trainers about Knees"--that way they see it. They are so busy that sometimes a post might slip through the cracks on the weekends!
      Last edited by Forum Angel; 03-20-2016, 06:23 PM.