The Everlast Pilates 4-Way Ab Stretch is a simple piece of exercise equipment constructed of two resistance bands held together by a fastener. Although it may look a bit like a rubber octopus, exercising with the two connected bands can provide advantages over using a single band since you're able to engage both your arms and legs together. Resistance bands are compact and convenient so you can fit in a workout anywhere. Take them along to the office for a lunchtime workout or tuck them in your suitcase to stay fit while you travel.
Everlast no longer makes or supplies the Pilates 4-Way Ab Stretch; however, it is possible to purchase it via third-party suppliers. There are also comparable products on the market in the same price range. If you're unable to locate a 4-Way Ab Stretch or similar product, you could construct your own by connecting two single resistance bands together.
Squat and Press
This total body exercise is a squat in combination with a shoulder press. Place a foot in each of the lower handles and grasp the two upper handles with your hands. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms flexed with your hands at shoulder level. Bend your knees and lower your body straight down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Stand upright as you push through your heels and extend your arms straight up. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions. To avoid injury, try not to let your knees extend beyond your toes. Keep your back straight and your abs tight.
V-ups are a very challenging abdominal workout when used with the Pilates 4-Way Ab Stretch. Sit on an exercise mat and place your feet through the lower handles of the band. Grip the upper handles with your hands, and lie back with your arms extended over your head. Simultaneously raise straight legs and straight arms as you bring your hands toward your feet so your body forms a "V" shape. Return to the starting position. Aim for 15 repetitions. If you're having discomfort in your lower back, bend your knees slightly or don't come all the way up.
Kneeling Glute Kickbacks
Kneel on a mat with the handles of the 4-Way Ab Stretch on both hands and feet. Keep your back straight and your abs tight as you kick back with one leg until it is fully extended backward and your toe is pointing toward the ground. Bring your leg back to the starting position and repeat, then switch sides. You can add upper body, core and balance elements to the exercise by extending your opposite arm as you kick back with your leg. Do 10 repetitions on each side.
Robin Jagoda has more than a decade of experience as a fitness/health professional and writer. She is certified as a clinical exercise specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine and holds a B.S. in exercise physiology. Jagoda is also a registered respiratory therapist with the National Board for Respiratory Care.