The Ultimate Abs Exercise

Posted by Angie Quehl on Feb 15, 2013 10:57:00 AM

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

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 yoexercise tipur 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. 



Topics: exercises for women, abs exercises, Pilates

Is Pilates a Waste of Time or a Gold Mine of Fitness for Women?

Posted by Angie Quehl on Sep 28, 2010 11:30:00 AM


"I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They'd be happier." -- Joseph Hubertus Pilates, in 1965, age 86.

Can you imagine using precious gym time to perform small, precise movements that strengthen muscles deep in the body that can't even be seen?

To many women that sounds like a waste of precious gym time. Exercise without extreme sweating and heavy weight lifting doesn't feel like 'real' exercise, especially to women indoctrinated in the 'no pain, no gain' philosophy of the 70's and 80's. That mindset is hard to shake.

The fact is, brute muscle force isn't usually necessary in everyday life, or in most recreational sports activities. In bodybuilding, for example, strength is limited to the position where the muscle contraction takes place. The focus is on the large 'mover muscles' that are visible under the skin. The stronger the muscle being contracted gets, the more work it takes on. Eventually, it takes over the roles of the smaller, surrounding, supporting muscles. If the body constantly recruits the wrong muscle for a job, it results in a muscular imbalance. This leads to chronic tension, pain, and eventually, injury.

Pilates develops and conditions the deepest supporting muscles in the body to work in concert with the mover muscles, as intended. The resulting ability to stabilize the spine, shoulders, and pelvis creates a strong core, or "Powerhouse", as it is known in Pilates. Powerhouse is a very descriptive term. When control in this area of the body is developed, you have the ability to create power ­ over and over again. The ability to create power repeatedly is known as endurance that is needed in sports and everyday life.

Just as the development of supporting muscles is important, soWoman doing Pilates Stretch too is proper muscle length. Long, over-stretched muscles don't move smoothly and short, tight muscles can't move through a full range of motion. If a muscle is shorter or longer than its counterpart, unequal forces surround the joint, and that can create pain and tension. In Pilates, the focus on continuous, flowing movements teaches the body to release tension and regulate flexibility while building strength.

We all agree it's beneficial to find balance in our lives. It's just as important to balance our bodies. Pilates exercises will help you do that. The benefits of Pilates - core strength, endurance, flexibility, and stability - are the elements that most often come into play in everyday life and in recreational activities. This makes Pilates a fantastic foundation for, and complement to, cycling, gardening, golf, tennis, running, swimming ­ you name it, Pilates will help.

Women often turn to Pilates as a last resort when imbalances in the body, from years of 'no pain, no gain' exercise have left them injured. Pilates is a wonderful rehabilitation tool, but using these techniques to prevent injury is better than any cure.

So, reprogram your exercise brain. An exercise worthy of 'gym time' should not be measured in pain and strain, but in the way, it improves your ability to move through your everyday life with endurance, flexibility, strength, ease, and efficiency.  Try Pilates classes and enhance your performance. It's not only worthy of gym time, it may be your most valuable time at the gym.

Submitted by:

Jennifer Rogers, Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer at The Women's Club


Topics: exercises for women, Pilates, strength training, exercise classes, fitness tips, fitness for women, exercise programs for women

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