This Pilates exercise is going to work all of your abdominal muscles. It is based on chest lift but the rotation brings the obliques in as well. It also challenges pelvic stability, preparing you for criss cross, one of the best ab exercises ever.
If you haven't done chest lift the Pilates way yet, do it now. Then come back and add the rotation.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
Make sure your toes are pointing forward and that your ankles, knees, and hips are in one line.
- Take a moment to breathe. Let your lower ribs relax down toward the mat. Your spine is in a neutral position -- with all of its natural curves. Relax your shoulders.
- Leave your shoulders down but bring your hands up behind your head with your elbows extended to the sides.
- Inhale: Pull your abdominal muscles in and let your lower back lengthen onto the mat as you lift your head and upper torso up just enough to have the shoulder blades off the mat. Do not pull on your neck, please. Do keep your elbows wide and chest open.
This works like a hinge just below your sternum so you don't want the move to affect your lower body. For example, don't tuck your pelvis.
- Exhale: Deepen your abs in toward your spine. Keep the height of the upper body and rotate the left side toward the right. Keep your elbows wide and chest open. The lower body stays still.
- Inhale to come through center.
- Exhale to rotate to the other side.
- Do 3 slow, fluid sets. You can work up to 6.
- Think of lengthening your spine even more as you roll down to start position.
- Take this exercise to the next level with criss cross on the mat and chest lift with rotation on the exercise ball.
- When you rotate the upper body, think of bringing one shoulder to the opposite knee. This helps keep the elbows and chest open.
- Part of gaining the strength to maintain pelvic stability is not letting the upper body rotation affect stillness of the hips.
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What You Need
- A Pilates mat or padded but firm surface.