Pilates Abdominal Series 5

No time for a Pilates workout? Need your Pilate’s fix? Want flat abs?

Try a daily routine of, “The Abdominal Series Five.” Never heard of the Series 5? Well, it’s a quick routine, consisting of 5 Pilates exercises, performing 10 repetitions of each, which are to be done in succession. Not sure if you’re strong enough to perform the 5 exercises in succession? Don’t worry. Take rests as needed or lower the repetitions to start. In no time you’ll find you breeze through the Series 5 and notice your abs looking great.

Here are the 5 exercises and description on how to perform. The purpose of these is to develop core control, strengthen your abdominals and stretch your hamstrings.

All exercises are performed lying on your back with head lifted. Remember you lift from you abs not your neck. Think about drawing your ribcage down towards your pelvis or hips. If you have neck problems you can support your head by placing hands behind your neck or rest your head on a pillow to elevate your head.

1) Single Leg Stretch: Straighten the right leg while keeping the left bent at 90 degrees. The right hand is placed on inside of the left knee and the left hand on the outside of the ankle. Exhale: straighten the left leg while you bend the right. Think about initiating the movement from your abs, deepening as your alternate legs. Inhale: as you switch legs.

2) Double Leg Stretch: Both knees are into chest with hands on ankles. Inhale: reach legs out straight and arms up overhead. Again, initiate from the abs and lower the legs only as far as you can before the back arches off the mat. Exhale: draw the legs into the chest as you sweep the arms around to hold the ankles.

3) Single Straight Leg Stretch: One leg reaches toward the ceiling while the other reaches towards the wall. Place the hands as far up the leg as you can reach, but not directly behind the knee. Inhale: draw the leg into your chest and pulse two times with short inhales. Exhale: switch the legs as you keep the torso in place.

4) Double Straight Leg Stretch: Both legs reach up towards the ceiling. Exhale: engage the abdominals as you lower the legs toward the floor only as far as you can without arching your back. Inhale: engage the abdominals to return to the starting position.

5) Crisscross: Hands behind head with one leg bent towards chest and the other leg reaching away from the body. Exhale: rotate the torso and reach the rib cage toward the opposite knee. Remember you are not twisting the elbow toward the knee so keep shoulders down and elbow wide and lift from the torso. Inhale: as you switch legs.

Whew! That should be your response when finished. If you have more time you can add some rollups, pelvic bridges or any of your favorite exercises. The Series 5 takes about 10 minutes so there are no excuses for skipping your Pilates. And hey the benefits are a nice flat stomach.

If you’re new to Pilates or not sure of the above exercises a great resource is Brooke Siler’s book, The Pilates Body. She gives great detail of the exercises and pictures for those who are visual learners. So get off the couch and get to the Series 5.