Pilates normally targets the core muscles in every workout routine, but a Pilates abs workout thoroughly strengthens the entire abdominal muscle group. The best abs routine will specifically stretch and extend the lower, mid and upper abdominals separately and simultaneously.
The following list of abdominal exercises offers a full selection of stretching and strengthening techniques. Rearrange the order of the list often to make custom workouts and to keep the body guessing; predictability in exercise routines generally causes a halt in progress. However, abdominal muscle progress rarely plateaus, making it possible to incorporate a Pilates abs workout into any daily routine.
Lower Abdominal Targeting
- Lay face up on a flat surface with both legs fully extended and arms relaxed on the ground or behind the head for neck support. With ankles touching, lift extended legs off of the ground a few inches. Continue by lifting the legs up and down without letting heels touch the floor.
- Complete multiple repetitions of the previous exercise, and then hold both legs about six inches from the floor. Remain in the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- In the same position as the previous two exercises, lift extended legs off of the ground about six inches once again, and then follow by spreading the legs apart and bringing them back together. Complete multiple repetitions of this scissor like motion for another lower abdominal exercise.
Full Abdominal Targeting
- Lay face up on a flat surface, again with both legs fully extended. Extend both arms straight back, placing the back of each hand on the floor. Have a partner hold both feet in place and perform full length sit ups until the extended arms reach the feet.
- After completing multiple repetitions of the fully extended sit ups, switch into the traditional sit up or crunch position with feet tucked near the buttocks. Complete multiple repetitions with the partner holding both feet in place.
- Next, perform abdominal rows by extending the legs out and then bringing both knees to the chest. Repeat the motion while bringing both hands toward the feet every time the knees touch the chest. Perform this exercise with a medium to fast pace.
Stretching and Repeating
- After each individual exercise, lay face down with both hands tucked close to the sides of the hips. Lift only the upper section of the body off of the ground at the waist. Try to bring the top of the head to the lower back region, forming an arching shape with the entire body. This will stretch the entire abdominal section between each new exercise.
- Before and after the full abdominal workout, stand with legs locked and arms fully extended upward. Reach up and backwards as much as possible, again forming an arch in the lower back. After holding the position in the maximum reaching distance, bend back straight and touch the ground or as far down as possible.
- For a thorough Pilates abs workout, repeat every exercise at least three times, stretching before and after the entire workout and in between individual exercises. Increase the amount of repetitions and exercises in each workout over time.