Before you αttend α class, try some of these best Pilαtes ab moves at home. Do them in order for the biggest benefits, but modify where you need to.
The hundred builds core strength while wαrming up the lungs αnd the rest of the body. It’s nαmed for the 100 beats and breaths that αre counted during the exercise.
- Lie on your bαck with your legs in a tαbletop position (as if your heels are resting on a bench, knees directly over the hips), arms αctivated and lengthened along your sides.
- Inhale and lift the chin up to the chest αnd lift your αrms a few inches off the ground.
- On an exhale, extend your legs all the wαy forward and a few inches from the ground, keeping your lower bαck planted on the mat.
- Move the arms up and down five times (somewhαt rapidly) on your inhαle and five times on your exhale.
- Repeat 10 times, remembering to keep your neck long αnd shoulders down.
The roll-up strengthens the abs and restores the spine to neutral alignment. It is uniquely effective in stretching αnd lengthening the lower bαck as well as stretching the hamstrings.
- Lie on your bαck with your entire body resting on the mat. With your shoulders wide αnd palms facing the floor, stretch your αrms up overhead, reaching your legs forwαrd with knees locked, lengthening through pointed toes.
- With a slow inhale, flex your feet αnd bring your αrms up to the ceiling and roll your head up to bring your chin to your chest.
- As you exhale, slowly roll up and forwαrd, adjusting your arm position so the arms stay extended out in front of the shoulders.
- Continue to roll forward, bending all the way over, and try to reαch your forehead to your knees while still keeping the chin on the chest.
- On the return, inhale αs you keep the abdominals contracted and the chin to the chest and slowly reverse the movement, articulating the spine bαck down to the floor vertebrae by vertebrαe.
- Do three repetitions.
The rollover is an advαnced exercise that requires a strong core and should not be performed if you hαve any kind of neck or bαck problems. When done properly, the rollover strengthens your abdominal muscles, stabilizes the pelvis αnd improves posture while targeting the butt and lower bαck muscles.
- Lie on the mat with legs extended and arms at your sides, palms down.
- Contract your core muscles, press your palms into the floor, point the toes and raise both legs to the ceiling, squeezing them together and keeping the shoulders down on the floor.
- Using your abdominals to initiate movement, squeeze the glutes and slowly lift from the hips to bring your lower back off the floor as you roll the legs back until they are parallel to the ceiling.
- Open the legs slightly, flex the feet and hover the toes just off the floor.
- Next, roll your spine back down to the mat vertebrae by vertebrae, maintaining control with the abdominals.
- When your feet get a foot from the floor, squeeze the legs back together, point the toes and repeat a total of three rollovers.
4. Single-Leg Stretch
The single-leg stretch stabilizes the trunk and pelvis as well as increases upper-back and hamstring flexibility. It teaches the abs to initiate movement and maintain form and control throughout the exercise.
- Lie flat on the mat with the palms on the floor.
- Roll the chin to the chest and lift the left leg a few inches from the floor.
- Bend your right knee into your chest, forehead to the knee and shoulders rolled slightly off the ground.
Take the hands to the right shin (elbows wide, left hand on top, right hand below it).
- Exhale percussively as you gently tug the knee slightly closer to the chest with each little exhale.
- Inhale as you switch legs and arms to the other side and repeat.
- Point the toes and use your abdominals to keep your lower trunk stable and glued to the mat.
- Do five repetitions on each leg, working up to 12 on each side as you get stronger.
5. Double-Leg Stretch
The double-leg stretch lengthens and strengthens the trunk, legs and arms. This exercise takes the body from one extreme to the other: full contraction “crunch” to a lengthened stretch, which intensifies abdominal engagement. If you feel pain in the lower back, raise the legs higher or keep them in tabletop until you’re stronger. You can also leave the head down or set it down as arms come overhead.
- Lie flat with the spine imprinted to the mat. Lengthen through your pointed toes and widen your shoulders down to the floor.
- On an inhale, slowly lift the head up and bring the chin to the chest. Bring the shoulders up, stretch the arms forward, palms pressing into the outer thighs, and lift the legs so the heels are two inches off the ground.
- Exhale slowly as you draw both knees into the chest, forehead to the knees, with elbows wide and fingers lightly pressing onto the shins.
- As you extend the legs, the arms reach up and out overhead into a lengthening stretch.
- Only bring the legs as low as they can go without any part of your spine bowing up off the mat. The arms should extend back so they are touching the ears.
- Repeat this move six times, working up to 12 as you get stronger.
6. Spine Stretch
The spine stretch does exactly what it is named for: stretches the back (especially the neck and upper back) and the hamstrings and helps the brain to connect to the spine as it articulates and flexes forward.
- On an inhale, sit up tall with your legs straight and spread a little wider than the hips.
- Stack your spine vertically as if you were against a wall with the shoulders rolled back.
- Flex your feet and lengthen through your heels to engage your leg muscles.
- Bring your arms out straight from the shoulders, fingertips lengthening forward.
- On an exhale, start from the head and roll the chin down to the chest.
- Peel the spine off the “wall” behind you and round your spine into a C-curve forward, scooping your lower belly and pulling the ribs in.
- Pulse forward three times as you exhale. Inhale to return, stacking the spine back up. Repeat this move three times.
7. Open-Leg Rocker
The open-leg rocker engages the core and lats while training the body for proper spine articulation and stretching the hamstrings and spine. To modify, keep the legs bent as you roll forward and back. If you have shoulder, neck or back issues, proceed with caution or do it under the supervision of a certified Pilates instructor.
- Sitting up tall on your sit bones, bend the knees and grasp one ankle in each hand, toes pointed.
- Slowly extend the legs out straight and shoulder-distance apart and contract the abs.
- Inhale as you use your abs to roll back slowly onto your shoulder blades.
- Roll down the center of the spine, as opposed to one side or the other, and likewise on the way back. Steer clear of the neck when you roll back and prevent your legs from dropping too far back when rolling back.
- Exhale and roll up to the starting position, balancing on your sit bones. The key is to maintain balance, control and precision by initiating and maintaining the movement from your powerhouse.
Corkscrew works the obliques, shoulders, neck and back muscles while massaging the spine and internal organs. With proper execution, the inner thighs and quads are also activated. For an easier version, don’t take the legs into a full rollover. Bring the legs straight up to the ceiling and rotate both legs into a wide circle clockwise and then counterclockwise.
- Lie on your back, arms lengthened along the body, palms pressed into the mat, legs together and extended out straight.
- Lift the legs to the ceiling and roll over, bringing the legs parallel to the floor behind you, toes pointed.
- From here, keep the legs together and shift both legs to the right to roll back on the right side of the spine.
- As the legs approach the right side of the mat, keeping the knees locked, legs straight and inner thighs together, continue around with the legs to the left side.
- End the full rotation by returning the legs into the centered rollover position: legs overhead and parallel to floor with toes pointed.
- Reverse the entire movement, starting the roll down the left side and around the tailbone, then up the right side.
- Make three complete corkscrews on each side.
The saw works all of the postural muscles, the abs (particularly the obliques) and back extensors. It also helps stretch the back of the hips and glutes as well as the hamstrings and back. As Kristi Cooper of Basi Pilates says, “This is a great exercise for ‘wringing out the lungs,’ or to create a shape within the body that allows you to fully exhale.”
- Sit up tall, lengthening through the crown of the head with both legs extended straight out about shoulder-distance apart and feet flexed.
- Take your arms out to the sides at shoulder height, lengthening through the fingertips, keeping the shoulders rolled back and down.
- Inhale and rotate your torso toward the left leg, exhale and bend forward toward the left foot, reaching the right palm (facing down) toward the outside of the left pinky toe. Keep the back arm in a diagonal line with the front arm, palm turned up toward the ceiling.
- As you reach forward, add a stretching pulse for three saw-like motions, reaching forward, using your core muscles to keep both of your hips solid and glued down to the mat.
- Inhale to come up and return to starting position, then move to the other side.
- Do three full repetitions.
10. One-Leg Kick
The one-leg kick works the hamstrings and glutes and strengthens the back extensors. If you feel pressure in your lower back, separate your legs slightly or move the elbows forward a few inches (or both). If you have back issues that make back extension painful or uncomfortable, do not do this exercise.
- Lying on your belly with legs together and toes pointed, come up into a sphinx-like position onto your forearms with elbows underneath the shoulders.
- Line up the shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands and avoid hunching the shoulders into the neck.
- Keep your gaze about two to three feet in front of you on the floor.
- Anchor your pelvic bones to the mat and kick one heel into your glute for two pulse kicks.
- Straighten the leg back out onto the mat.
- Switch legs and do six reps on both sides.
11. Double-Leg Kick
The double-leg kick opens up the chest and the front of the shoulders as well as works the entire back side of the body. To simplify this move, shorten the range of motion on the kick. If you have back issues that make back extension painful or uncomfortable, do not do this exercise.
- Lying on your stomach with legs lengthening out and toes pointed, turn your head and place one cheek on the mat.
- Clasp your hands behind your back, placing them high on the back with elbows down toward the floor.
- Keep your spine long and lengthen through the toes and crown of the head throughout the entire exercise.
- With inner thighs and knees together, bend the knees and kick both heels to your glutes for three small pulses.
- As you lower the legs back down, keep the neck and head in line with the spine, lift the chest up, bring the shoulder blades together and lengthen the arms back (hands still clasped).
- Hold for a few seconds.
- As you slowly lower down, turn the head to the other side.
- Repeat on the other side, doing five reps for both sides.
The Scissors strengthen the abs, back and shoulders while increasing spinal flexibility and stretching the hamstrings and hip flexors. Scissors are a challenge and require focus to connect your breath with the movement correctly.
- Lie on the mat with arms along your sides, palms facing down. Take the legs back over your head, toes pointed as in a rollover.
- Bend the knees so the shins come to vertical and bring the hands in to prop the lower back up under the hips.
- Allow the majority of your weight to be supported by the abdominals, shoulders, triceps and elbows and avoid putting pressure on the neck.
- On an exhale, extend the legs up straight to the ceiling, keeping the inner thighs glued together.
- Slowly begin to scissor the legs, taking one leg toward the face and one leg toward the mat.
- Do a double pulse with an exhale on each scissor and inhale as the legs come back to center.
- Bend the knees back into the starting position and use your ab muscles to roll the spine down one vertebrae at a time.
- Once the tailbone is down on the floor, bend the knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Repeat each side six times.
Reference : http://www.livestrong.com