Feel The Burn With This Pilates Abs Exercise

This classic mat move deserves a spot in any abs workout.

Jacob Ammentorp Lund / Getty Images

Jacob Ammentorp Lund / Getty Images

Pilates isn’t always thought of as the most muscle-shaking, ab-quaking workout ever, but there are some moves that seriously challenge this notion. If you haven’t already, meet the Pilates 100, one of the method’s classic core exercises. And there’s a reason it’s been a mainstay for so long: This abs move seriously puts your muscles to the test. 

“The Pilates 100 helps to strengthen and sculpt the abs because it helps engage the transverse abdominals, which basically means the deepest set of muscles you have in your lower belly,” says Kit Rich, an L.A.-based trainer, Pilates instructor, and Lucy Activewear pro. Plus, it definitely brings the Pilates ~vibe~ to whatever workout you’re doing. “This one move encompasses all Pilates principles: concentration, centering, control, breathing, precision, and flow,” adds Rich.

To make the most of this move, do it before your other core-focused exercises (just like you would in a Pilates class), says Rich. “It’s a warm up for the abs and a great connection for mind and body,” says Rich. Plus, “the pumping of the arms helps get the blood moving in the body.” Ready to kick off your abs workout with this simple but challenging move? Here’s how to do it. 

Pilates 100

Whitney Thielman

Whitney Thielman

  • To get into position, lie on your back with your knees bent, then lift your feet off the floor into table top position (your knees should be stacked above your hips and bent at a 90-degree angle, your lower legs parallel to the floor). Point your toes, squeeze your heels together, and extend your legs straight and forward to about a 65-degree angle—for more of a challenge, you bring your legs a bit lower to the ground. Lift your head and shoulders off the mat and extend your arms by your side. Hold this position throughout the exercise.
  • With your arms straight out by your sides, begin pumping your arms up and down using your triceps, inhaling through the nose for five pumps and exhaling out of the mouth for five pumps for a total of 10 times. “This is why it’s called the hundreds,” says Rich. How fast your arms move will depend on how fast you’re breathing, and every individual (and instructor) is different, says Rich. (If you’re just starting out, she recommends a medium to fast pace, as shown.) 
  • Now for a few form notes: With every inhale, imagine the belly button is pulling in towards the floor (this is called the Pilates scoop), and with your exhale try to pull in even deeper, says Rich. Keep your shoulders wide and slide your shoulder blades down your back.
  • You can modify if you need to, too: “If you have a sensitive back, keep knees bent in table top position,” says Rich. “If you have a sensitive neck, feel free to keep your head down.”

Chances are, you’ll start feeling the burn way before you hit 100.

SOURCE:  By: Alexa Tucker - self.com

The best exercise for the menopause? Pilates

Pilates could help take some of the pain out of the menopause.  The yoga-like stretching exercises help strengthen the bones and muscles and boost quality of life, Spanish doctors and scientists said. For those who would prefer to do something a bit more active, weightlifting and trendy interval training are also recommended.

It is thought that exercise makes it easier for the body to deal with the lapses in heat control that occur around the menopause due to hormonal changes. Researcher Dr Helen Jones said the results were so impressive that exercise could be a natural alternative to HRT.  

The yoga-like stretching exercises involved in Pilates help strengthen the bones and muscles and boost quality of life, Spanish researchers found.  Exercise also brings other benefits from healthier hearts to weight loss, the European Menopause Society’s journal reports.

The typical British woman goes through the menopause at 51.  Symptoms, which range from hot flushes to sleepless nights, headaches and depression, can last for 14 years.

Hormone-replacement therapy is the main treatment, but is not suitable for all and many who could take it are put off by fears that it may trigger breast cancer.  Those who do start on it can suffer unpleasant side-effects, from headaches to heartburn, leading many women to try things like acupuncture and herbal supplements.

To find out of exercise could be a suitable treatment, the study’s authors, from the Spanish Menopause Society, the Spanish Cardiology Society and the Spanish Federation of Sports Medicine, reviewed published studies on the topic.

The benefits were so pronounces, the exercise could be a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy, researchers said.  They said that while swimming, dancing and other forms of activity all have benefits, Pilates, weight lifting and high intensity interval training are likely to be the most beneficial.

Writing in the journal Maturitas, the researchers said that these three forms of exercise are especially good because they improve balance, which helps prevent falls.

They concluded: ‘Physical inactivity not only places women’s health at risk but also increases menopausal problems.

‘Abundant evidence links habitual physical exercise to a better status on numerous health indicators and a better quality of life and to the prevention and treatment of ailments that typically occur from mid-life onwards.

‘We can infer that physical activity is something more than a lifestyle; it constitutes a form of therapy in itself.’  The recommendations come a few months after a British study endorsed the benefits of an active middle age.

Research from Liverpool John Moores University found that women who worked up a sweat in the gym suffered fewer hot flushes than those with a more sedentary lifestyle. And the flushes they did experience were less severe.  This is important because hot flushes are the most common and distressing symptom of the menopause and can disturb sleep, drain energy and cause embarrassment. A single flush can last from a few seconds to as long as an hour.

It is thought that exercise makes it easier for the body to deal with the lapses in heat control that occur around the menopause due to hormonal changes.