Pilates is one of the best ways to build core strength, develop and flatten your abs, and strengthen your back. Core strength workouts are exercises that focus on the center of the body, which includes deep abdominal muscles, the muscles closest to your spine, especially the lower back, and the hips and buttocks
Core strengthening workouts will help you to improve your overall fitness, your ability to perform daily activities, and sports performance. Because of the slow and controlled moves of Pilates, a Pilates workout is easy on the body with minimal impact on the joints, which makes it a great option to ease into fitness if you are overweight or out of shape.
Many of the women I work with in my private weight loss coaching programs choose to practice Pilates because it helps them gain long lean muscles, increases their flexibility, and they are able to a enjoy a well-balanced and conditioned body with improved overall feelings of well-being. I also recommend Pilates because when you do it regularly, it can help you prevent injuries and even alleviate chronic back pain.
The Step It Up With Steph Signature Slimdown DVD includes a quick core-strengthening Pilates workout!
In addition to the physical benefits of Pilates, I believe every woman should incorporate some Pilates into her workout routine, whenever possible, because it also helps improve your mental state. Pilates requires concentration and forces you to focus on your body movements and your breath, rather than the distractions of outside stress. Research has also found that Pilates boosts brain power and improves cognitive function.
I teamed up with my favorite workout and Pilates partner, Jenny Milkowski, to demonstrate an advanced Pilates core-strengthening exercise. Watch the video below:
If you’re ready to try an advanced core-strengthening exercise for flatter abs, here’s how to do a Pilates roll over:
- Start by laying flat on your back with your legs together and your arms at your sides, palms facing down.
- Make sure your neck is long and your chest is open as you inhale.
- Keeping your legs together, extend them straight up toward the ceiling until you reach a 90-degree angle.
- Exhale while using your abdominal muscles to draw your hips and legs over your body until your legs are parallel to your chest. You will be releasing the lower back and lifting your butt off the ground with your abs.
- Roll back onto the wide part of the shoulders. Feet should be flexed and toes should be toward the ground behind your head. Use your arms to balance you but lift primarily with your abdominal muscles.
- Inhale and lengthen the back of your legs through your heels and flex your feet. Widen your legs to shoulder-width apart in a V formation.
- Exhale and use core control to allow your legs to lower toward your chest while slowly lengthening your spine, rolling down, placing each vertebrae one-at-a-time on the mat, until your legs are again at a 90-degree angle — feet flexed and stretch through the heels.
- Keeping your legs together, lower them slowly.
- Begin the exercise again and repeat the process.
Try it and let us know what you think! Again, remember, this is an advanced core-strengthening exercise. For a quick easy-to-follow Pilates routine, grab a copy of the Step It Up with Steph Signature Slimdown DVD.