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Pilates: How To Achieve Great Abdominals

Pilates: How To Achieve Great Abdominals

This Pilates workout consists of four short exercises which when practised just four times a week will begin to make a difference to your abdominals. You'll feel lighter and healthier and will soon achieve a stomach to die for all thanks to Pilates exercises.

Step 1: You will need

  • 1 exercise mat or thick towel
  • comfortable clothing
  • 1 small towel

Step 2: Exercise 1: Abdominal Prep

Step 3: To prepare

Lie down on your mat or towel with your knees bent at a 45º angle and your feet a little less than hip-distance apart. Have your arms on the floor by your sides, palms facing down.

Pay special attention to your lower back. Don't have it flat on the floor, or over-arched.

Try and find a neutral position, with a small curve in the lower back, and avoid tilting the pelvis towards or away from you.

Step 4: Breathing

You will inhale deeply through the nose to prepare, aiming the breath towards the back of the rib cage and exhale deeply through the mouth. When you exhale, think of flattening the abdominal region. Imagine gently pulling your belly button towards your spine. This first exercise will be performed in four breaths.

Step 5: The exercise

Inhale and gently lengthen the back of your neck, lowering your chin down but not jamming it in. As you exhale, scoop in your abdominals and reach your hands towards your feet, curling your upper back off the floor until you can feel your muscles tense.

Inhale here, breathing into your rib cage, now exhale and gently, controlling the movement, roll back down to the mat relaxing your neck at the end.

Repeat this eight times. You will feel your central and lower abdominals working.

If during the exercise you feel a strain on your neck, put your hands behind your head to support. Keep the elbows wide and don't pull on your neck.

Step 6: Exercise 2: The Hundred

Step 7: To prepare

Stay lying in the same position, but join your feet and knees together and gently flatten your lower back down to the floor without squeezing your backside.

You're going to be beating your hands up and down while you perform this Pilates exercise, just as Sophie is showing you now. Practise this action before continuing.

Step 8: Breathing

Here the breathing is very different from before.

The same principles apply but you are going to inhale and exhale to prepare for the exercise then inhale and exhale over the count of ten while beating your hands.

The sequence will sound like this: inhale, 2, 3, 4, 5, exhale 2, 3, 4, 10 inhale 2, 3, 4, 5 exhale, 2, 3, 4, 20 and so on, all the way to one hundred.

Step 9: The exercise

Inhale and gently lengthen the back of your neck, lowering your chin down but not jamming it in.

As you exhale, curl your upper back off the floor, scooping in your abdominals. Draw your shoulders down and reach your hands off the floor and towards your feet.

Then breathe in for five while lightly beating your hands up and down and breathe out for five continuing to beat.

Continue like this until you reach 100! Maintaining your own constant rhythm as you go. If you find you're getting tired quite quickly then take a short break after 50 and then finish.

You will feel all your abdominal muscles working.

Step 10: Exercise 3: Obliques

Step 11: To prepare

Adjust your feet to hip distance apart and place your hands behind your head, with your elbows wide and shoulders down.

Step 12: Breathing

The breathing is the same as in exercise one but here we will use two breaths.

Step 13: The exercise

Inhale to prepare, as you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles, flex your upper body off the floor and keeping your elbows wide, reach your left side towards your right knee.

Inhale to return to the centre, resting your head back on the mat, exhale, and repeat to the other side.

Do this 10 times in total, five times to each side. You will feel the sides of your stomach - your oblique muscles- working.

When you finish the series relax your arms back down onto th