The main objective of Pilates is not to make the waist smaller. Pilates aims to strengthen your core muscles and elongate your midsection through postural correction. Situps and crunches do not target love handles or the dreaded back fat, which can make you look wider. However, the benefits of Pilates and specific exercises can help tighten your waistline and the benefits of alignment will reveal a slimmer waist once your posture is corrected.
Goals of Pilates
The goal of Pilates is to strengthen the core -- your lower back, buttocks and abdominal muscles. Through slow movements and dynamic tension -- using muscles against muscles -- your body will be able to utilize its stabilizing muscles to support strength building. Strength building is then paired with elongation exercises to increase flexibility. The combination of these movements allows your core to contract and muscles to develop. Muscle is essential in burning fat along with aerobic exercise.
The Pilates method contains several exercises that require side-bending movements. These isolate the muscles on your sides and effectively tone that part of your waist. If you are unfamiliar with these types of exercises, try a basic movement called the mermaid. The mermaid requires you to sit on your side with your legs together and bend slowly at the waist. More advanced techniques require the resistance used on Pilates machines or a side-plank position.
A crisscross movement, known as the bicycle crunch exercise, was ranked by San Diego State University as the most effective abdominal exercise. Lying on your back, perform a crunch with your left elbow touching your raised right knee and lower. Bring your left knee and your right elbow together and repeat. This is a standard exercise for targeting the rectus abdominis -- the external and internal obliques.
Build and Burn
Practicing these core exercises help with long-term fat burn. The muscles you activate in your core during a side-plank are the mini ovens that help burn the fat, but aerobic exercise is the fuel. Creating a caloric deficit -- eating fewer calories than you burn -- is the key to fat-burning success. Jogging or dance class helps increase your heart rate, which lets you feel that burn. Paired together, Pilates and aerobic activity work to burn the fat and sculpt the waistline.
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