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Core Strength-Pilates Exercise Video for Abdominals: Little Pulses

Posted Jan 31 2011 4:27pm

Having great core strength means that you’ve got a balance between strong abs and a flexible back allowing you to move easily through each exercise during your Pilates workouts.  A while ago I posted an article on my blog about improving abdominal strength and spine articulation with the benefits of adding pulsing to Pilates exercises.  I had a couple of clients come for their Pilates workouts and ask me questions about how to do their pulses better to maximize core strength, so I thought this would be a perfect topic for a video post.

Click here to view the embedded video.

With all our Pilates exercises we’re looking for great ab support to help keep your back safe, and improved movement to  better articulate your spine from your head to your tailbone!  I think the most challenging exercises for most Pilates students are the Roll Up, Neck Pull, Teaser, and Short Box round on the Reformer with the full back bend and roll up.  Practicing little pulses during your workouts, can help you improve your abdominal strength, and get your body bending more efficiently.

So here’s the Little Pulses exercise to help strengthen your abs:

Start with a modified  ½ Roll Back exercise and add 4 levels of little “pulses” to your movement.

  • Roll the pelvis backwards almost to the waist on the mat.  Pulse 10-30 times bending two inches below the navel (L5). Feel & watch the low abs pull in while the low back relaxes and falls backwards in space deepening the low scoop.  Focus on feeling the pivot point at the bottom of the lumbar spine.
  • Roll back farther – waist to the mat.  Pulse 10-30 times bending two inches above the navel (L1). Continue to feel the back relax and back bones drop backwards while watching the low and middle abs pull in and back as the head and shoulders bob forward.
  • Roll back farther – pelvis, waist, and bottom ribs to the mat.  Pulse 10-30 times feeling the front of the bottom ribs dropping backwards in space as the pivot point for the pulse. (T-12).  Keep the lower back to the mat and feel it drop more as you pulse up.
  • Stay with the bottom ribs to the mat.  Pulse 10-30 as the upper back relaxes the bottom ribs will get closer to the floor, but this time focus on feeling the shoulder blades spread apart while the breastbone drops and slides down the front of your shirt.

Be sure that the initiation for the pulsing  is the lower back and belly is pulling in and down, not the head and shoulders hurling up!  The deepening of the curl comes from the release of the back, and the work of the abdominals.  This probably won’t happen automatically!  You’re going to have to actively make the movement happen.  Watch your low stomach with your eyeballs to be sure it’s happening.

Arm Options:

  • Easy – arms reach to the legs
  • Moderate – “I dream of Jeanie” or “Indian Chief”
  • Challenging – Hands behind the head
  • Super Challenge – Arms straight overhead by your ears, thumbs hooked.

It won’t take you very long after adding pulses to your workouts before you’ll notice how much better exercises like the Roll Up are getting.  So keep practicing to enjoy great benefits from your little pulses.

Have fun adding these little pulses to your workouts!  Practice your little pulses with the exercise above, or when you’re on the Trapeze Table with the roll down bar, during your Roll Up and Neck Pull, or any other exercise that they might help you get a little more work from your workout!

Thanks for checking out this video.  Keep on the lookout for my next Pilates fitness tip to help you get the most from your training program.  See you soon, have a GREAT Day!

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