The Ultimate Ab Workout – The Pilates Series of Five
By: Courtney Holcomb, Pilates Instructor at Waveforms Pilates
Are you looking for an ab series that is quick and effective? Time to try the Pilates Series of Five. This popular Pilates sequence is sure to get you feeling your abdominals and working the core! Best part? It only takes 2 minutes to complete from start to finish.
The basic series includes these five exercises:
1. Single Leg Stretch
2. Double Leg Stretch
3. Single Straight Leg Stretch
4. Double Straight Leg Stretch
This series builds lean muscle tissue which is responsible for tightening the waistline. This added strength in the core will help improve your posture so you’re standing taller and feeling more confident!
Perform each exercise below for ten repetitions before moving to the next. Start to finish; go through each set without stopping. Let’s get started!
Single Leg Stretch
Keep the pelvis stable and lift the head and shoulders off the mat. Inhale as you hug the right shin in with wide elbows. The opposite leg shoots out long at a high diagonal. Exhale to change legs. An exchange from right to left counts as one rep.
Draw both legs into the chest to transition into…
Double Leg Stretch
Begin with both shins hugged into the chest. Extend and reach the arms high overhead (without lowering the shoulders) and send the legs out long to the high diagonal. Circle the arms to gather the shins back into center.
Extend the right leg long towards the ceiling and grab behind the thigh or calf. Lower the left leg towards the mat…
Single Straight Leg Stretch
Tug the right leg towards you as the left leg moves down. Take two quick breaths in through the nose as you “tug” the leg. Pulse twice in this position. Hold the crunch in your upper body as you switch legs and exhale through the mouth. Keep the knees straight and work for a smooth transition from side to side. A rep is a set on the right and left.
Draw both legs together and press them into one another. Extend the legs up towards the ceiling…
Double Straight Leg Stretch
Inhale to lower both legs down to hover above the mat. Try for as low as you can without arching the low back. Exhale and hug the abdominal muscles in towards the spine as you lift the legs back up to the ceiling. Maintain the shoulderblades hovering off the mat and arms and fingertips reaching long and forward.
To transition, interlace the hands behind the head. Draw the left knee in and extend the right leg to the high diagonal…
Exhale to lift the upper body to bring the right shoulder towards the left knee. Maintain the lift as you inhale to rotate the head and shoulders through center as you change sides and legs. Exhale to bring the left shoulder blade towards the right knee. A full set is a crunch on each side.
To finish, draw both legs into your chest and lower the head, neck, and shoulders to the mat. Turn your neck heavy from side-to-side.
Tips for Good Technique
- Keep the torso and hips stable throughout the whole series.
- Legs should only lower towards the mat as much as you can without arching the low back.
- Don’t rush it! Enjoy slow, fluid movements to get the most impact.
- Pull the abdominal muscles in towards the spine instead of letting them press out.
- Each exhale allows you to pull the stomach muscles in deeper.
- Keep shoulders wide throughout the exercises.
Start with just a few repetitions of each exercise and work up to the full series! You can also take a small break between each exercise as you build up strength.
Watch here to see the series in action. You’ll see only two sets of each exercise – but remember – the full Series of Five includes 10 sets of each exercise! Give it a try yourself and enjoy the burn.
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