Pilates puts your muscles — especially the smaller ones which stabilise you — under continuous tension over a wide range of motion in order to create that enviable long, lean look. What’s more, one study discovered that women who switched their usual routines for two 60-minute Pilates sessions a week saw substantial increases in abdominal endurance, hamstring flexibility as well as upper-body muscular endurance.
The ab prep is a fundamental exercise that is used in Pilates. It promotes cervical and thoracic flexion and helps to encourage deep abdominal activation and pelvic control. Placing a small ball in between the knees helps individuals to activate core abdominal muscles even further and exercises the adductor group.
Rolling exercises in Pilates assist with stimulating the spine, deeply work the abdominals as well as tuning you into the inner flow of movement in addition to breath in the body. With rolling exercises in a Pilates class, you will learn to be in control of your physical movement and finding your natural balance point. What’s a huge plus point, with exercises such as rolling like a ball, you will be giving yourself a back massage, which can assist greatly with relieving tension.
Here is your starting position:
- Begin by lying supine on the mat. Bend your knees. Slightly abduct them with a small ball that is placed between your knees. Face your feet forward and have your arms lying next to your body with your palms facing downwards.
- Inhale to prepare.
- Exhale and contract your abdominals. Gently lift your head and cervical spine off the mat. Your shoulders and arms will follow. Squeeze the ball between your knees. Lift up to your breast bone. At this point, your arms will be level with your shoulders.
- Inhale and while still keeping your abdominal awareness hold your position.
- Exhale and contract your abdominals. Slowly lower your body to your starting position.
During the ab prep with a small ball, you’ll work your abdominal muscles which are any of the muscles in the anterolateral walls of the abdominal cavity. Your abdominal muscles are composed of three flat muscular sheets. From the exterior of your body going in, these are:
- External oblique,
- Internal oblique, and
- Transverse abdominis which is supplemented in front and on each side of the midline by the rectus abdominis.
What you need to look out for during the ab prep with the small ball
During this foundational Pilates exercise, you need to remember to stabilise your shoulders and not to let the rectus abdominis pop out.
It is possible to modify this exercise by placing your hands behind your upper cervical spine if you are feeling pain in your neck or shoulders when you’re lifting your head off the mat. In addition, you can also place a small, flat towel under your lower back if you feel pain in this section of your body during the exercise.
It’s recommended that you do between 10 and 12 reps of this exercise.
The Pilates ball is an extremely effective training tool because it promotes core stabilisation by adding resistance to a workout. This forces exercisers to trigger their pelvic floor muscles. In addition, the ball acts as an unstable surface, which stimulates deeper core stabilisation.
Want to learn more about Pilates and possibly even become a Pilates instructor? If you do then you should really look at doing our Pilates Instructor Course. For more information, please follow this link.