Did you know that done correctly, Pilates exercises can activate abs more than crunches do?! It's SO true according to exercise physiologist Michele Olson, Ph.D., of Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama. In fact some are "over 200 percent more effective!" A Pilates abs workout can tighten and streamline your abs quickly and effectively, because it emphasizes your breathing along with maintaining proper form and we have chosen the cadillac (no pun intended) of Pilates moves for this edition of Essential Exercises for Women. The Roll Up is a great challenge for the abdominal muscles, and a wonderful articulation for the spine. One well is equal to six regular sit ups, and is better than crunches for strengthening your abdominal muscles!
How It's Done
How to Do the Rollup Pilates Exercise -- powered by HowCast
1. Begin by lying on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Press your upper thighs and knees together. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and let your belly drop toward the floor.
2. Reach your arms all the way overhead and rest them on the mat. Your fingertips will point toward the wall behind you and your palms will be facing up. Keep your ribs down.
3. Inhaling, press down through your shoulder blades and reach your arms up over your head. Let your biceps pass by your ears, and then drop your chin and curl your torso up.
4. Exhale as you stretch all the way forward toward your toes. Pull in your abs and curve your spine as you raise your torso. With your head tucked, reach your fingertips toward your toes.
5. Squeeze your glutes and tuck your tailbone. Pull your navel deeply in toward your spine, and then begin to unroll, one vertebra at a time. Inhale as you continue this motion halfway down.
6. About halfway down, exhale as you lower your shoulders to the mat, reaching your arms overhead again. Then lower your head and arms to the floor.
7. Repeat up to six times.
TIP: Don't try to pull yourself up by sheer force or momentum! Doing so can overwork your hip flexors, neck, and back muscles. Instead, keep your spine rounded as you pull your abdominals in deeply to lift your torso up.
For more tips on toning that tummy, check out our article: 3 P's for a Tighter Tummy
Main article body submitted by: Pennie Waston, Director of Personal Training at The Women's Club