Pilates, Single Leg Stretch
A great exercise for strengthening the deeper abdominals and obliques. This is how to do it safely and correctly to get great abs.
It is really important in this exercise to limit your range of movement to suit your strength level. In the photo I am going for the hardest option, which is extending the leg out as low to the ground as possible. For an easier option extend your leg up towards the ceiling or on more of a diagonal for a middle option.
The most important part, is to make sure that your back does not arch off the ground.
Step by step –
- Before lifting your legs, you will need to pull up your pelvic floor (imagine an elevator sucking up from the base of your spine towards your belly button).
- Then lightly pull your belly button down towards your spine with no movement occurring in your back, this will ensure that you are supporting your spine by switching on your transverse abdominus (another deep abdominal muscle).
- Tuck your chin in (as if you are holding an orange between your chin and chest) and lift your head off the ground.
- Then making sure your spine stays in neutral – (a small natural curve in your lower back, lifting off the ground, only enough space to fit a few fingers under your back, not a whole hand) lift one leg at a time into table top position.
- If your back increases its arch when you lift your 2nd leg off the floor then this exercise will be too hard for you and you will need to start off with an easier option to strengthen your abs. Continuing with this exercise will only increase the pressure in your back and could potentially cause a back injury. Come back to this one later when you are stronger.
Assuming you have the strength to lift both legs, with NO movement in your torso occurring, you are now going to extend one leg out, whilst lightly holding the leg that is at a 90 degree angle to your hip, then switch sides.
Make sure you don’t let your body rock from side to side, your back arch, or your abs dome out.
If your abs do start to dome upwards then, again, this exercise is too hard for you and you need to start with an easier version. I have written a previous article about how abdominal doming can actually make your abs look worse rather than better! Click here to read “Four steps to better looking abs”.
If you want to learn more Pilates exercises then book into the Thursday 9.15am Pilates class in South Brighton, starting June 30th. Small classes of 6 with only 3 spaces left, so please call 0414 544944 to secure your spot.
Let me know how you get on and if there are any other exercises you would like to try but don’t know how.
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