Welcome to the Evolved Pilates Exercise of the Week. This week, the focus of our pilates exercises is on the abdominals. Core strength and abdominal strength are so important, but what is the difference between them.

Also important is how to protect your spine, maintain neutral pelvis and neutral spine as you work your abdominals.

Watch the video below or scroll down to read the transcription below.

Hi, and welcome to our Evolved Pilates Exercise of the week. This is episode number seven, and today we’ll show you some exercises to strengthen the abdominals in a curled up position. So, let’s put your hands there, behind your head, right. So to set up, you want to make sure that you’ve got a neutral spine and a neutral position of the pelvis and the low back. So just the same as we do for all of our exercises engage pelvic floor, lower tummy. That looks great. And then with an exhale, what I’ll get you to do is to lift the head, curl up through the chest, beautiful. Well done. And then roll head and shoulders back to the floor. We’ll just do four.

So as you can see, as Amanda comes up here, she maintains a length between her chin and her chest. She creates bending and curving for her upper back without dumping the load into her lower back so her pelvis and the bones in her spine through her low back stay precisely the same. You can rest for a second.

So essentially what we’re trying to do there is get some forward bending of the upper back and to highlight that you can achieve that bend through the upper back without compromising the pelvis and the lower back, and a nice outcome of that is we increase the abdominal strength through the rectus abdominis.

So let’s add a new variation to this now, we’ll add a twist to get into the obliques. So with the coccyx anchored, pelvic floor and lower tummy engaged to get the core on. Exhale and let’s curl head and shoulders forward. Inhale and hold that position. Exhale, you’re going to bring this over up towards the ceiling. Fantastic, inhale, come back to center, exhale other side. Reach that out. Beautiful. Right up to the roof, back to the middle and resting down. Good job. Let’s do another three.

So exactly the same idea here, we’re getting a bend forward of the upper back, we’re adding a twist around the ribcage, the bones in the spine, in the vertebrae start to rotate, but that has no impact on the way you stabilize the pelvis and you stabilize the lumbar spine. Let’s do two more. Let’s alternate the way you go first. So let’s come over towards me, beautiful. That’s it, and back to center, and around, fantastic, flatten off that lower tummy, and rest. Just one more. Exhale to the curl, inhale, hold, coming up and over towards me, back to the center, around, fabulous. Good work.

So the breathing is smooth and the movements are well controlled. You don’t need to do hundreds of these variations. Four is sufficient if you really take your time and really start to think dipping into the lower tummy. If that’s all going okay, we’re going to add another variation as well. So, exhale curving head and shoulders forward, lengthen the pelvis away from the rib cage. Holding there, let’s float the right leg up, so it’s like the knee floats that we’ve done previously.

Hold it here, little bit more lower tummy, fantastic. And that second leg should feel really light to lift. The first leg lowers. The second leg lowers. Let’s get just a little bit more height, beautiful. And rest. Just do one more like that. Exhale to curl.

This time we’ll lift the left leg first, so gliding and hinging from the hip. Very light as the second leg lifts. First leg lowers, second leg lowers. Look at my heart up, up, up. Yes, that was a good one and rest.

Adding a bit more to that, exhale head and shoulders curl. Floating the right leg towards you, bringing the left leg towards you, fabulous. So, holding the curl up, holding the pelvis, exhale and let’s extend that right leg away, fabulous, and then draw it back. Left side, exhale to extend, and pull it back. Let’s do another two on each side.

So as you can see here, Amanda’s got that beautiful dissociation of her legs. She’s maintained her curl up and the height of her chest, and she’s just allowing her legs to stretch away, lengthening the lever, increasing the challenge, all of the while maintaining stability of her spine and her pelvis. Rest.

So we did just three, each side there, you can add reps if you like, if you like that extra challenge, but try to keep the speed quite slow, and really smooth in the legs. Don’t rush through it. Work to maintain the height of your head and chest and that’s where you’ll get the work. Should we add some with legs, too?

So put your hands back again. So it’s the same beginning, exhale and curl head and chest forward, left leg, right leg, float them up. Okay, so this time we’ll extend the left leg away and we’ll add a reach of. Let’s go towards your bent knee. Elbow to the roof, up, up, up. Great. Come through the center. And the other side, reach, fantastic. And then coming back, two more each side.

So the complexity, we’re just adding and adding to the exercises here to get Amanda to alternate her legs, allowing her pelvis to swing from side to side. To maintain the height of her curl up and the strength through her rectus abdominis, and also the twist to add obliques, but without losing any of the stability.

So a great, really challenging exercise to add to your home routine. Amanda makes it look very easy. Focusing, again, on the principles of hip dissociation and adding a little bit of rectus works, so a forward bend through the upper body, but making sure that we’re absolutely maintaining and being really safe with our lumbar spine.

Thanks so much for watching.

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