In my previous blog post, I talked about the benefits of Pilates. In this article, I will give you 5 different exercises to increase your core strength. This gives you the opportunity to do Pilates at home.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, (I had a life at uni), so go get some medical advice before you start any exercise regime. Also, I’m not there watching you do these so I can’t be held responsible for anything.
Getting those deep abdominal muscles – the transversus abdominis and internal oblique’s – is a fundamental part of Pilates. However, lots of people struggle to engage these muscles properly.
To figure out what I mean when I say to engage your core do the following;
- Lie on your side, with knees bent. Stick a pillow between your thighs.
- Rest your head on your outstretched arm with your back in a neutral position. (If your neck is uncomfortable grab another pillow.)
- Allow your tummy to collapse- completely relax the muscles.
- Then, keeping the spine still, slowly draw the abs up and away from the floor and in towards the spine. Imagine yourself becoming a stronger cylinder.
BOOM you have engaged your core.
What is Neutral?
In Pilates, we talk about neutral a lot. It’s actually pretty simple. Lie on your back. Make sure your pubic bone and the top of your hip bones are level with each other. This means you’ll have the natural curve of your back off the mat. Engage the core.
BOOM you have a neutral pelvis.
Now that you have that mustered let’s get stuck into the tummy exercises. Oh wait, one more thing. If your neck hurts, put it back on the mat. If your back or knees hurt at any point, stop the exercise! Pilates shouldn’t hurt you.
1. Ab Prep
This is probably the most underrated excise out there, but it’s fundamental.
Exhale: Maintaining a neutral pelvis lift your head and shoulders off the floor.
Exhale: Release back down to the floor.
2. Full Roll Up
Lie on your back with legs and arms long.
Inhale: Bring arms to 90 degrees
Exhale: Curl the chin to chest and roll-up.
Inhale: Reach your hands towards your feet.
Exhale: Slowly return to the starting position. Put one vertebra down at a time.
Note: If you can’t get all the way up, go as far as you can.
3. Single-Leg Stretch
Lie faceup on mat with legs in a tabletop position.
Exhale: Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat. At the same time, extend left leg straight to a 45-degree angle and draw right knee toward the chest. Grab right knee with the left hand and right ankle with the right hand.
Inhale: Switch legs on the inhale, pulse for 1 beat, and switch legs again on exhale, keeping shoulders off mat and core engaged throughout.
4. Double Leg Stretch
Lie faceup on the mat. Lift head, neck, and shoulders and bring knees to chest, arms hugging shins.
Exhale: Straighten legs to a 45-degree angle while simultaneously extending arms.
Inhale: Circle arms down to hug shins as you return to starting position. Keep shoulders off mat throughout.
Lie faceup with your arms extended out to your sides. Bend your knees over your hips and lift your feet off the mat.
Inhale: Let both knees move to the right.
Exhale: Return to starting position, and then repeat on the other side.
Bonus 6. Criss-Cross
Anyone who knows my teaching style knows I love this one. This is an added exercise if you’re still feeling up to it.
Lie faceup on the mat. Hands behind head and elbows wide. Lift head, neck, and shoulders off the mat.
Exhale: Bring left armpit to right knee and extend the left leg to high diagonal.
Inhale: Back to the centre.
Exhale: Twist to the other side and switch legs, bringing right armpit to the left knee and extending the right leg.
Thank you for reading. I hope these help you get moving. If you’d like to find a Pilates instructor in Gaborone have a look at our directory here or have a read of our article about Pilates in Gaborone.