Here’s a great workout for a strong core and abdominals. Sit-ups are often thought of as the go-to exercise for abs but it may surprise you to know they’re not very effective. This is because people tend to overuse the hip flexors rather than the abdominals when doing sit-ups. The other common issue is not engaging the core which results in ‘doming’ where the stomach rounds as you sit up. Again, the abdominals are not working correctly here.
In Pilates we work the core in every position by slowing down the movement and using precision and control to recruit the correct muscles.
This practice works the whole body with a focus on toning and strengthening the abs and core.
Begin on all fours with knees under hips and hands under shoulders. With spine in neutral gently engage the core. Tuck the toes under and lift of the floor a couple of inches.
Notice how the core engages more when you lift so that it feels like a corset wrapped around your centre. Hold for a count of 5 breaths.
Begin to tap the knees to the floor and lift for a count of 10.
Keeping your knees off the floor step the right leg back followed by the left into a plank position. Move the legs back to the start position and repeat for a count of 10
Coming into a Superman (superwoman) position with spine in neutral and opposite arms and leg extended, begin to circle the arm back to the side. Slide it back to the start position as if you were sweeping it along a surface. Repeat 10 times on each side.
On all fours slowly slide the leg along the mat and extend it away pointing the toes. Slowly slide it back to the start position keeping the pelvis level and the whole body stable so that only the leg is moving. Repeat on both sides 10 times.
Come into a kneeling plank position with your arm extended to the ceiling. Rotate your arm around and then return it to the start position. Alternate with the second movement for a count of 10.
As you extend the arm dip the hip and use the obliques (side abdominal muscles) to lift you up). Rotate the arm under and repeat on the other side after a count of 10
Continuing in kneeling plank draw your elbow to knee then extend your arm and leg. Repeat for a count of 10.
Holding the leg and arm extension begin to tap your leg to the mat and lift again for 10 repetitions.
Place your elbows under you shoulders and bring your knees into a table top. This is a great alternative to table top if you find it hurts your neck. Make sure your core is engaged and your chest is lifting so that your don’t sink into your elbows.
Tap the toes to the floor on alternate legs for 10 counts on each side.
From the start position extend the right leg. As you exhale low the leg just above the floor and lift to a 45 degree angle as you exhale. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Draw the knees towards you flexing the feet keeping the heels together and the knees wide apart.
Lying on the mat take the arms to the side in a V shape. Press the arms into the floor and keep them activated throughout. Extend the right leg to the ceiling and breath in.
As you exhale draw a wide circle outwards with your toe.
As you leg comes back to centre take a breath in and hold in that position. Exhale sweep the leg around. Repeat one more time and then reverse the circle. Repeat on the other side.
To modify place the opposite foot on the floor with the knee bent. If the hamstrings are tight keep the knee bent.
Take your right elbow towards you left knee lifting the shoulder high off the mat. Hold it here for a few breaths. Then swap sides.
Pick up the pace and switch side on every exhale keeping the extended leg hovering off the floor. Repeat for 30 seconds.
Extend the legs towards the ceiling and reach the arms upwards. Take tiny inch movements up and down reaching towards the feet.
Begin with the head off the mat and the arms extended by your sides hovering off the mat. Take a breath in and as you exhale extend the arms and legs to 45 degrees.
Inhale take the arms down and bend the knees.
Repeat for a count of 10
If you enjoyed this and want to try something similar I think you’ll like my 20 minute Body Sculpting Routine: