4 Pilates Moves for Tight, Toned Abs

Everyone wants the secret to perfect abdominal muscles.  Many try to accomplish this by pumping out tons of variations of crunches only to feel discouraged by unsuccessful results.  Here are some amazing Pilates exercises that will leave your midsection stronger, tighter, and more toned.

  1. The Pilates Roll Up is one of Joseph Pilates’s fundamental mat exercises.  It starts lying on your back supine, with your arms and legs straight on the floor reaching away from each other.  As the arms lift up towards the sky, the chin nods and the rest of the spine curls up, reaching the finger tips towards your toes. With control, return back to start without allowing the shoulders to elevate.  This exercise concentrates on warming up the abs by moving both the abdominal wall and spine. If the spine isn’t properly warmed up and allowed to move first, ab exercises are done in a tightened state and won’t get optimal range to go further.  Use this Pilates exercise to help prep and get better results in the next exercises.
  2. The Hundred is one of the major staple Pilates exercises.  You start by lying on your back supine, with your legs in “tabletop” position, making the hips, knees, and feet form a 90-degree angle.  As you flex the spine the forward, lift the arms to hover them by the hips, and extend the legs straight.  Start to pump the arms vigorously, inhaling every five pumps and exhaling every five pumps.  The Hundred is a warm up for the abdominals challenging spinal stability while using the breath.  Use this exercise to strengthen your abs and core.
  3. Side Bends are an incremental way to target your obliques. Variations like Mermaid and Side-Overs are popular versions of the basic Side Bend.  Moving the spine sideways moves aspects of the body that are tight and strengthens those that are weaker.  The abs will only be as strong as the spine is – they work together.  Side bending is rarely done throughout the day, but is one of the most needed movements in modern life. Our abs don’t just run straight up and down but at many different angles. Side Bends tone up the sides of the abdominals, creating a stronger core. Adding rotational variations to this exercise will give an extra oblique contraction and increase more strength.
  4. Planking variations such as the Long Stretch are a great way to sculpt those abs. Lifting your own body weight up into a raised position off the ground creates a challenge fighting against gravity. When elevated in this fashion, all four layers are working, especially the deepest layer.  The transversus abdominis is shaped like a belt around the waist and is the deepest layer of abs.  Challenging this muscle group is extremely hard to do, making it one of the best ways to tighten the entire abdominal wall; in this exercise, it’s done by lifting your entire midsection away from the ground.

All four of these exercises, practiced on a regular basis, will create ideal tight and toned abs. Having a strong core is being able to move in all ranges of motion fluidly.  When striving to tighten your midsection, you need to work all four layers of abs in order to keep them pulled up and in. Continuity of these exercises will create the strength and toned abs everyone wants.