Get tight but do it right – no neck strain or lower back pain, just targeted, concentrated abs with these 5 Pilates exercises by Founder of One Hot Yoga, Lucinda Mills.
Ab Prep is the ideal way to warm up the abs. Like most pilates exercises it’s about learning to work from the inside out – which is why you gain such fabulous results! The bonus with Ab Prep is that both the neck and feet are fully supported so it’s totally safe for the pilates novice or those with pre-existing injuries.
Preparation: Lying supine, feet and knees positioned in line with sit bones, pelvis neutral, hands gently cradling the head with elbows wide.
INHALE: Lengthen through the back of the neck slightly nodding the chin towards the chest
EXHALE: Peel the head and shoulders off the floor, sliding the ribcage towards the hips (maintaining a stable neutral pelvis)
EXHALE: Lower the head and shoulders (being mindful of not popping or flaring the ribcage)
*Repeat 15 times
Bottoms up! Reverse Curls target the lower abs (AKA muffin top – a regular request in classes). Through increasing the flexion in the lumber spine the lower abs tighten to stabilise the pelvis and give you the flat lower look we’re all after #goals
Preparation: Lying supine, pelvis imprinted. From table top – externally rotate the hips and cross one ankle over the other, arms reaching long towards the ceiling above shoulders, palms facing in.
INHALE: To Prepare
EXHALE: Draw the lower abdominals deeper towards the spine lifting the tailbone from the floor (avoid rocking or using momentum here)
INHALE: Return to the starting position
*Repeat 8 times which one leg on top then the other
*To advance add a chest lift simultaneously with the pelvic lift – hands gently cradling the head with elbows wide
SINGLE LEG STRETCH
For those who like it a little fancy, Single Leg Stretch challenges you in more ways than one – both your co-ordination and strength! This combines the upper, middle and lower abs – YES!!!
Preparation: Lying supine, pelvis imprinted legs at table top, arms resting alongside the body palms facing down.
INHALE: Engage your abdominals to draw your navel in toward your spine. Peel your head and shoulders from the floor drawing your chin towards your chest and simultaneously draw your right knee in toward your chest placing your right hand on the outside of your right ankle and your left hand on the inside of your right knee as you extend your left leg straight to 45 degrees maintaining imprint.
EXHALE: Switch your leg and hand positions. Your outside hand should hold your raised leg’s ankle and your inside hand should hold that leg’s knee.
*Repeat 5 times with each leg.
*To advance cradle the back of the head with the hands and add spinal rotation with opposite elbow to opposite knee
Simple Side Plank, we love this one! A goodie but an oldie that’s perfect for slimming the side waist while giving your shoulders a little love on the side (literally).
Preparation: Position yourself on one side of the body with your elbow directly underneath your shoulder and legs long. Shoulders, hips, knees and feet perfectly stacked one above the other.
INHALE: To prepare
EXHALE: Keep the stabilising shoulder down and lift the ribcage, hips, and thighs up off the mat to form a diagonal line from your underneath armpit to foot. Simultaneously reach your top arm to the ceiling to form a T shape.
*Hold for 30 – 60 seconds
*Repeat on both sides
*To advance add a 2 inch lower and lift with the pelvis maintaining hips stacked one about the other
The proof is in the pudding with Teaser – it’s a really great exercise where you get to not only feel but see the results. The aim is to engage the abs (all of them) to evenly articulate the spine to roll up and down which if you perform it properly feels like a nice little massage on your back. Max effort = max results on this one!
Preparation: Lying supine with knees bent, both feet and knees in line with sit bones. Arms reaching overhead, neutral spine.
INHALE: Reach arms above the shoulders towards the celling
EXHALE: Draw the chin towards the chest and continue to peel the head and shoulders from the floor until you’re positioned on the back of your pelvis with arms reaching forwards in front of your shoulders
INHALE: Reach your arms above your head in line with your ears extending your spine from your tailbone to head
EXHALE: One vertebrae at a time roll yourself back down to your starting position
*Repeat 8 times
*To advance, perform exercise with legs at tabletop
Neutral Spine – When the pelvis is balanced between the two exaggerated anterior and posterior positions. When the pelvis is in neutral, the bones at the top of the pelvis back Posterior Superior Iliac Spine (PSIS) and front Anterior Superior Iliac Spine (ASIS) are level – as well as being in the same plane as the pubic symphysis (pubic bone)
Imprint – An imprinted position combines a slight posterior pelvic tilt with slight lumbar flexion. When supine, the pubic bone should be slightly higher than the hip bones causing the lower back to relax closer to the mat. The pelvis is not so tilted that the sacrum curls off or loses contact with the Mat.
Supine – Lying horizontally with the face and torso facing upwards (on your back)
Tabletop – knees and hips positioned at 90 degree angles with knees and feet together
feature image via pinterest
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