Pilates is an exercise method developed by Joseph Pilates designed to rehabiliatate, tighten and tone the body. There is an emphasis on core muscles, also referred to as "the trunk" in pilates. You can do pilates on a mat or you can use a machine called a reformer which helps you to have tighter and more controlled form.
There are certain exercise which help you have that cut look on your abdominals. You can start with a pilates move called the "Modified hundred" where you pump your arms five times as you ingale and then pump your arms five times as you exhale as you are laying on the floor. You want to keep your core engaged as you do this which will tighten this area as well as protect your lower back. Then as you are inhaling and exhaling you will do one hundred pumps.Make sure to keep your pelvis neutral and squeeze your pelvic musles. Make sure to breathe out laterally.
The next move is called the "Roll Up" where you are laying on the ground with your arms over your head. Then you start to roll up with your arms over your head while keeping your abs tight untill you are in a seated position with your arms out straight. Make sure to exhale deeply as you are coming up. You can also do this movement with a pilates band.
The next move is a single leg stretch. You are laying on the ground with your arms at your sides. Then hug one leg into your chest and then lift up your chest as you keep your ribs down. Reach your arms around your shin. Then start to switch your legs while keeping your pelvis neutral while keeping your chest lifted. Make sure to coordinate your inhalation and exhalation every time you swtich legs.
The next move to do is a double leg stretch which builds on the single leg stretch. While laying on your back lift you legs off the ground, with your knees bent and the lower part of your legs perpendicular to the ground. Keep your pelvis neutral and enage your abdominals while keeping your ribs down. Then you will raise and straighten your legs so that are at a an angle and then reach your arms straight back into the air. You will switch from raising your legs and arms to putting your arms on your legs when your legs are bent.
Once you've mastered these moves you can try more advanced moves with a small weighted pilates ball. The weight of the ball will make all the moves more challenging since you have more weight to content with. If your low back starts to hurt after these exercises then make sure to do hamstring stretches and make sure to keep your abdominals engage as you do these movements.
Amy Backer the owner of Bodylogic Pilates - http://www.bodylogicpilates.com, she earned her BFA degree in Dance at the University of Colorado and her teaching certificate from the internationally renowned PILATES Center of Boulder in 2002. In 2009, she completed Body Language, a 200 hr anatomy study with Thomas Myers, the author of Anatomy Trains. Andrea is also a Zero Balancing practitioner certification candidate.
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