If you have ever taken a Pilates class chances are you have done the Ab Series of Five. It is a series of 5 movements done to times each. This is a quick “how to” so that you can do them at home. Try and do them in quick succession without starts or stops. Remember to apply the six Pilates Principles to every movement to get the best results.
1) Single Leg Stretch ( beginner,intermediate and advanced strength levels)
- Lie on your back with your knees folded into your chest.
- Engage your abdominals and curl your head up bringing your gaze to your belly
- Place your right hand on your right ankle and your left hand on your right knee (think: outside hand on your ankle!)
- Stretch your left leg straight away from your body. Start with your leg straight up from your hip to the ceiling. Slowly lower it down only as far as you can maintaining abdominal control. Hold this position.
- Switch legs; holding onto your left ankle with your left hand, your right hand on your knee and your right leg out long and straight.
- As you get the hang of this position, you can speed up the movement.
- Do this 10 times.
Watch out for:
- Don’t let your body rock side to side as you switch legs.
- Neck tension. This means you are lifting your head with neck muscles, not abdominal muscles.
Go ahead: Throw out your preconceived gym class notions that hundreds of sit ups are the only way to get a strong and flat abdomen. The Ab Series of 5 is absolutely the BEST way to get a complete core workout in a short amount of time. Ideally done in quick succession (without stopping) it uses all the muscles in your core to their maximum capacity. With that being said, the Ab Series, when done correctly, is HARD. If you are a beginner, start slow and build up to the full series as your strength level increases. How do you know if you are strong enough? Follow this quick check list before you get started:
- Can you hold your neutral spine/abdominal connection with your hands behind your head, elbows wide and shoulders off the mat for more than 2 minutes?
- Can you lift your chin to your chest, round up and look at your tummy without straining your neck?
- Can you lift your shoulder blades off the mat?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you need to build up your strength before you go crazy with your bad self. Don’t worry, you will get there. The brilliance that is Pilates is that when movement is done with precision and control you will get the maximum result in a small amount of time. Just remember: the six Pilates Principles are there for a REASON: they work.