Pilates for the ABs

This is a [Other] pattern from www.turnstep.com. (pattern 10718)

I teach Pilates and have found a great exercise for the abs--both upper and lower. Yes, they're all one long set of muscles, but for the sake of these next exercises, one area is being worked much harder than the other, so we'll identify them as upper and lower.

The roll-up, which if you've done Pilates, you're probably familiar with, starts in a prone position. Legs are straight out with the feet on the floor. Get the class into a Pilates-V position--much easier without shoes. The heels are together, with the toes pointed softly--forming a V. The knees are turned away from one another, and the inner thighs are pressed together as tightly as possible--wrap and zip is what it's called. Just have the class lift the arms straight out from the shoulders and slowly peel the head and shoulders off the floor, following with the upper, then middle back. Reach toward the feet, keeping the shoulders down. Now, the class should try and do this without lifting the feet or bending the knees, but if necessary, they can bend the knees slightly. Then, have them go back to the beginning position by slowly curling the lower back, then middle and upper back--one vertebrae at a time. Keep the chin tucked down, looking at the navel until the head reaches the mat. Great abdominal work.

Then, you can incorporate the lower abs by doing a roll back. This is a little more difficult and shouldn't be tried until the class grasps the roll-up first. Laying on your back, lift the feet into the air, so they are perpendicular to the body. Keep the feet, now, in shoulder width position, relaxed. Hands are at the sides. Slowly, roll backwards--one vertebrae at a time, until the legs are parellel to the floor. Make sure noone goes too far back to the shoulders--just the shoulder blades. Then, slowly return to the original position by curling back--again, one vertebrae at a time, until the lower back is on the mat and the feet have returned to the original position in the air. The roll back will really tighten those lower abs and isolate them so the class will likely be pretty sore the next couple of days.

I also teach kickboxing, and my class enjoys doing Pilates at the end for some intense floor work. Unlike the Pilates class, though, they like doing the exercises to a beat, so I usually take the roll-up and roll back together, by rolling up 8 counts, back down 8 counts, lifting the legs into the air and beginning the roll back 8 counts, and then returning to the original position with the legs in the air for another 8 counts. Then, I just make sure they quickly bend the knees and put the feet back on the floor to start the roll up again.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions. Good luck!!

Added by Nancy Lamb at 4:11 PM on Thursday, January 3, 2002 EST. Add to favorites (view favorites)
(Email: tkickforce@aol.com)
From: Bloomington, Illinois (USA)
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