Pilates places an emphasis on specific movements controlled by your core, which is also called your powerhouse. Doing Pilates regularly will strengthen the muscles of your abs and back, improve your posture, and increase your flexibility. Incorporate Pilates into your fitness routine three times a week to see a big difference in your midsection.
The Pilates Hundred
The Pilates hundred is the first exercise done in Pilates classes, and it is a great way to warm up your abdominals and increase your heart rate. Begin by lying on your mat with your knees folded in towards your chest. Extend your legs up towards the ceiling, and engage your abs by pressing your lower back into the mat. Straighten your arms at your sides a few inches above the mat, and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Lower your legs to a 45 degree angle, and begin to pump your arms up and down by a few inches. Perform 10 sets of 10 arm pumps to complete the Pilates hundred.
The Roll Up
The roll up targets your abs and stretches your hamstrings and the back of your legs. Begin by lying on your mat with your legs extended and your arms overhead. Engage your abs, and lift your arms until they are pointing straight up. Use your abs to lift your shoulders off the mat and sit up, extending your arms as far over your toes as you can. Roll back down one vertebra at a time, keeping the tension in your abs and return to starting position to complete one rep. Perform 10 to 12 reps.
Rolling Like a Ball
Rolling like a ball requires activation of your core to keep you stable as you roll through the air. The movement also provides a massage to your spine to increase the health of your back. Begin by sitting at the top of your mat with your feet on the floor in front of you and your knees bent. Lean forward and hug your knees, bringing your chin in towards your chest. Shift your weight onto your seat bones as you lift your feet off the ground and squeeze into a ball shape–this is starting position. Lean back and roll backward until your shoulder blades touch the mat, and roll back to starting position, using your abs for control and balance. Complete 10 reps.
About this Author
Louise Tremblay recently finished an M.Sc. in molecular and cellular biology in Ontario, Canada, and is new to freelance writing. She has experience writing articles and Web content on science, heath and fitness, diet and personal wellness.