Pilates and the lean abdominal muscles are an obvious match made in heaven. Every Pilates exercise has the ability to be an core workout in and of itself. Paired with good eating habits, Pilates can make a big difference in a relatively short amount of time. If you’re up for toning your abs the Joseph Pilates way (all while developing better posture and coordination), here is what you need to know.
Best of Pilates: Abdominals Edition
The following are the best of the core-oriented exercises. In addition to being utilized by some of the biggest names in sports and film, from Tiger Woods to Jessica Biel, these moves will activate more ab muscles than the traditional crunch or sit-up – making them more effective over time.
The Magic Hundred – If you’ve ever skimmed through a fitness magazine’s ‘Ab Edition’, odds are good this move has been featured, as it never fails to get results. Lying facing up on your mat, allow your arms to rest at your sides, and feet spread about hip-width apart. Raise your legs up at a forty-five degree angle (if it’s a little more or less, that’s okay – especially if you are just starting out.). Raise your hands four inches off of the floor, then return them to the original position. This is where the ‘hundred’ part comes in. Repeat that motion one hundred times. The Roll-Up – This exercise is a bit of a misnomer, as you are technically rolling down, not up. Sitting straight up, raise your legs upwards at a forty-five degree angle. Reach out in front of you. While keeping your legs off of the ground, reach out and grab your ankles. Pay special attention to your abs, and keep them tight throughout this entire motion. Slowly roll back down to a sitting position. Repeat between five and ten times, depending on level of fitness. The Teaser – Lie facing up on your mat. Your legs should be flat in front of you; your arms, flat at your sides. Slowly, lift your legs upwards. Raise your arms up. Your fingers should be pointing at your toes. Slowly roll back down to where you were originally. This exercise is one of the most difficult for beginners, so aim for three to four repetitions the first time around.
When Joseph Pilates originally formulated his exercise system, it is said that he recommended at least ten minutes of this type of physical activity per day. Once you advance on from these three exercises, check out about.com’s Pilates section, which offers a superior load of information on new Pilates exercises – and improving your reaction time on older ones.