How to Do Pilates Abdominal Work
The most wonderful benefit that a person can get from doing the very popular Pilates exercises is a firm, trim stomach! The abdominals are honestly the hardest part for most of us to work on. It is also the most important part of most workout programs, because all strength starts in the core of our bodies! If you have not yet tried Pilates, you will find here some very basic but important exercises, and you can start trimming your tummy in just a few weeks. If you are more experienced in Pilates, you can use this guide as a regular routine to keep in shape the Pilate’s way!
The Hundred: This is the most classic of all Pilate’s movements, and it is a great way to start any Pilate’s workout. Start by lying on your back on your mat, with your hands at your sides, and breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth several times. Bring your legs up to a 45 degree angle. Now peel your head and neck away from the mat and raise it up to a comfortable level, engaging the abdominals. You should be gazing into your abdomen for this exercise. Breathing in first, start pressing your hands in a downward motion for five beats, then breath out for the next five beats. Remember that is important to relax and breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this ten times, and you have completed the Pilates 100!
The Roll Up: This exercise is also excellent for your core strength. Start by lying on you back, and taking a breath in through the nose. Your hands should be at your sides to start. Next, float your hands up over your head, take in a breath, and peel yourself up to a sitting position over four counts. Let out your breath through your mouth. Continue to stretch out towards your feet for the next four counts, until you are over your feet. Breath in again, and slowly start to roll back down, laying down one vertebra of your spine one at a time over eight counts until you are back in starting position. Do this exercise 5-6 times per workout.
Rolling Like a Ball: This exercise is exactly what it sounds like, but it will challenge your core and massage your back at the same time! Start by balancing on your tailbone and hugging your knees. Look into your abdominals and breathing out. Taking a breath in, roll back on your spine, continuing to look at your belly. Roll back to the starting position, maintaining the same pose. Repeat this exercise 5 times.
Single Leg Stretch: This is one of the best ways I have found to tone those pesky lower abdominals! Start again on your back, arms at you sides. Bring your knees up to a 90 degree angle, so that you look like a small table. This is called the table top position. Peel you head up from the mat, breathing in. Stretch out one leg to a 45 degree angle, while holding the other knee. Tug on the knee twice, breath out, and then switch legs, tugging twice on the knee. Do this ten times, and don’t forget to breath!
Double Leg Stretch: This is a challenging but effective exercise for the lower abdominals. Start in the table top position, and peel your neck and shoulders off of the mat, breathing out. Hold your knees in, and take a breath in. Stretch your arms and legs out away from each other, lengthening your body. Return to the position where you were holding your knees. Repeat this exercise five times.
Criss Cross Legs: This is similar to bicycle crunches, but a more fluid motion. It will target your oblique abdominal muscles, and slim that waistline! Lay down on your mat with your hands behind your head, and your feet in table top position. Peel your head and shoulders up from the mat, breathing in. Extend your right leg, while bringing your left elbow to the right knee. Breathe out on the movement. Repeat this ten times per leg.
Open Leg Balance: This exercise is similar to rolling like a ball, in that it targets the lower abdominals and helps with balance. Start in the same position as rolling like a ball, staring into the abdominals, and breathing in. Stretch out your legs in a V shape, grabbing your legs or ankles as necessary. Stare straight ahead and hold the position for 5 seconds, before returning to the ball pose. Do this exercise 5 times.
Single Straight Leg Stretch: This exercise continues to challenge the core, and also increases flexibility in the legs. Laying on your back, take a breath in. Raise one leg straight up, point your toe, and hold onto the back of your thigh. Peel your head off the mat slowly and tug on the leg twice. Switch legs like a scissors, pulling twice on the leg each time. Do this five times per leg.
It is a great idea to follow up any Pilate’s workout with a stretching routine.