The correct Pilates abs workout contains a combination of lower, mid and upper abdominal exercises. A regimen through Pilates will isolate each muscle group, plus include stretches and exercises that target the entire abdominal section through core strengthening techniques.
Compound Abdominal Exercise Section
Compound exercises target more than one muscle or muscle group at a time, and many Pilates exercises offer stretching and strengthening for more than one section of the abdominal muscles simultaneously.
- Lay on a flat, firm surface while facing upwards. With arms and legs fully extended so that the body stretches to its maximum length, bring the hands and feet together in a folding motion. Maintain an extended and stiff posture which will stretch and contract the entire abdominal muscle group.
- Bring both legs in, tucking them close to the buttocks. Perform a series of sit ups with hands on each side of the head. Follow with more sit ups, but extend both arms straight back, similar to the position in the first exercise. The combination of these two exercises provides a thorough abs and core strengthener.
- In the same position as the first exercise, place the hands on the side of the head as in the second example. Lock ankles together and bring both knees into the chest while performing a crunching motion, using the hands for head and neck support. This exercise gives the lower and upper abdominal regions the greatest amount of work.
Lower Abs Section
This portion of the Pilates abs workout focuses on the lower region, often thought of as the hardest area to define and tone in the core muscle group.
- On a flat surface, lay face up in a fully extended position with both arms and legs extended as far as they will reach, exactly like the first exercise mentioned in the compound section. Lift both legs off of the ground a few inches. Kick the legs up and down one at a time, much like swimming. Perform multiple repetitions for one full set of at least 25, with one repetition counting as two kicks.
- In the same position, lift both legs so that the heels hover about 6 to 8 inches off of the ground. Hold the position for at least one minute and repeat at least 4 times, with no longer than 20 second rest periods.
- Again, in the fully extended position, keep the heels no more than 8 inches from the ground. Touch ankles and then pull the legs apart, representing a scissor like movement. Perform 15 repetitions for each set.
Between each new exercise, plus before and after the workout, a series of abdominal stretches ensures less muscle strain.
- With legs fully extended, lay face down with hands at the hips. Press off of the ground with hands and the pelvic area, lifting only the upper body in a backward arching motion, stretching the abdominal muscles
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart and extend both arms straight up. Lean back and arch the lower back to stretch the abs. Lean back and forth multiple times for a full stretch.