Here are the best ab exercises to really get you that great silhouette and to give you the core strength you need to protect your precious back. We are proud of our center, which is internationally recognized as one of the world’s finest Pilates instructor course studios and sets a standard in the industry.
The six-pack (or rectus abdominis) muscles are either side of the front body midline. Gorgeous, aren’t they?
This rectus muscle is usually crossed by three horizontal bands which gives you a nice”six-pack”look when you’ve been working hard on your fitness. The rectus muscles are responsible for allowing you to bend forward – they contract when you want to bend, and relax when you stand upright again. Other roles for this talented and attractive muscle group are:
1. Helps you breathe – very helpful!
2. Helps you keep internal organs in the right place (especially with heavy lifting).
There are people all over the world who desire a nice flat tum and waistline. But is buying all that equipment we’re always seeing on television, the best way to go? I’ll bet you have a piece gathering dust in the garage! Did it work for you? I’ll wager a resounding”NO”is the answer.
How about sit-ups?
You can do sit-ups till the cows come home, and admittedly you will develop the rectus muscle, but what is it going to do to that layer of fat sitting on top of it? Nothing, unless you also watch what is going into your mouth and do more aerobic exercise, both of which result in fewer nasty calories.
There is so much talk about the flat stomach we should have. However, some of us are just not anatomically designed that way – especially if you’re a woman. So don’t obsess about it if you are one of these folk. Curves are good – and sexy.
However! The rectus abdominis is not the only abdominal muscle. There are others equally (if not more important). They are often referred to as “corset” muscles. They wrap around you helping to keep your insides in. They are:
External & Internal Obliques – These are broad muscles that runs in a diagonal from your ribs to your hips.
Transverse Abdominus – These are also “corset”muscles, but travel around your torso horizontally rather than obliquely.
Pelvic Floor: I can’t emphasise enough, the importance of doing these exercises as early as your 20’s, especially for women. They are also call Kegel exercises.
Pilates Exercises are all about strengthening the core, not just the six-pack. These also aid breathing – so remember to breathe when you do the following exercises:
Pilates Cuddle Exercise:
Don’t get excited! Cuddling yourself is what I mean.
Starting Position: On the floor with knees bent up onto your chest and arms lightly around knees (there’s your cuddle for the day); and try to hold your shoulders-blades off the floor.
Movement: Lift hips on exhale, and lower them on inhale – it’s only a small movement.
Pilates Single Leg Lift:
Starting Position: Beginners start with head on the floor. Otherwise, the shoulder blades and head are lifted off the floor – the higher you lift, the greater the benefit.
1. Place both hands on the left knee and stretch out the right leg.
2. Then hands on right knee and stretch out the left leg. Again, try to get the breathing rhythm into your exercise.
Breathe in for 1 set (that is 1 & 2 above) and out for the next set.
Pilates Obliques Lift:
Starting Position: Same position as above, but with hands behind head this time. Keep the legs going as in the single leg stretch, but, this time:
1. Move your right armpit up to left knee.
2. And then, left armpit to right knee – your shoulders each time, moves across the body. Again, breathe in for each set as above.
Starting Position: Lie on floor on floor with legs up at a 45 degree angle with shoulder blades and head also lifted off the floor. Arms are held straight out, slightly off the floor.
1. Pump your straight arms up and down – from knees to the floor. I like to do this to the slow rhythm of the deep breath. Inhale for 2 pumps and exhale for 2.
2. But do the number of pumps that feel right for you. The idea is to do 100 pumps which, it is claimed Joseph Pilates kept doing into his 80’s. So, should be easy for you!
Pamela White is the creator of My-Pilates-Exercises.com and is a Pilates instructor whose speciality is working with people over the age of 50. Get more of the very best ab exercises along with illustrations at the site.
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