Plenty of famous women owe their svelte bodies and flat abs to Pilates. Female celebrities flock to high-priced Pilates trainers to tone and elongate their figures. You may think balancing a job and family, coupled with lack of a movie star budget, rules out taut lower abs for you. But Pilates exercises can tighten your tummy, too, even in your home.
Pilates Ball Workout
If you already have a Pilates ball at home, you can try trainer Colleen Craig's ab-toning exercises, which work the rectus abdominis muscle. This muscle runs through the middle of your abdomen. Exercising it will tighten your lower, mid and upper abs. Some ball exercises to try are the navel-to-spine, little abdominal curls and leg stretches.
If you're searching for a way to burn calories while doing Pilates for your lower abs, check into Plyo-Pilates. The creator of Plyo-Pilates, Maria Sollon Scally, designed a 15-minute routine for "Fitness" magazine that not only tones the abs, but also works the entire lower body. Remember, you'll naturally tighten the lower abs while working the core. Sweat-inducing moves include the butterfly, genie and alternate v-sit roll. To do the alternate v-sit roll, sit on the floor or mat with your knees bent. Lift your lower legs and point your toes forward until your shins are almost parallel to the floor. Then lean back 45 degrees and thrust your arms forward. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Put some punch in your Pilates workout -- while, yes, still toning that lower ab area -- with some fat-burning moves. The routine created by Boulder, Colorado's June Kahn's Bodyworks owner June Kahn will cinch your stomach while toning your entire body from head to toe. Kahn, who's also the Pilates director at Boulder's Lakeshore Athletic Club, uses basic Pilates movements -- like the plie with side lift and crossover sweep -- and adds cardio so you can burn 420 calories in a session. Toughen your lower abs with a Pilates standby, the standing hundreds. Start by standing with your arms by your side, palms turned behind you, and your legs spread hip-width apart. Pump your arms 10 times. Move arms in small, controlled forward and back movements, keeping pumps between 3 and 5 inches.
If you want a stronger core, hit the Pilates mat, even if you're a beginner. But do so safely. If you have health concerns, are pregnant or unconditioned, it is best to get your doctor's approval first.
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