Pilates is ideal for toning your abs and strengthening your entire core area. You may already be using some Pilates exercises in your normal strength training routine.
So, what is the core? Your body's core consists of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, thoracic spine and cervical spine. The core is your body's center of gravity and all movement begins with the core. The core’s primary role is to protect and stabilize your spine during everyday movements. If you have beautifully toned abs as a result, that is a fringe benefit!
Many people have sufficient extremity strength (limbs), but few display sufficient core strength. A strong and stable core will maximize your extremity strength and power. A core strengthening program involves using many muscles in a coordinated movement. Rather than isolating specific joints as in most weight lifting exercises, core stability exercises focus on working the deep muscles of the entire torso at once. The core muscles are also very important in preventing low back pain.
The body's core is so much more than your "six pack" abs! A strong core will allow you to handle heavier loads as your training progresses. You will also lessen your risks of injury.
Pilates exercises are controlled movements that tone, strengthen and stabilize your muscles. Doing a set of Pilates exercises will usually give you a full body workout. It is important to breathe and maintain the correct posture when doing Pilates exercises. The basic breathing method would be to inhale slowly with your nose and exhale with your mouth. During ab workouts, exhaling while working your muscles will ensure that your lungs release air. This will also help you to be more flexible in your core.
The American College of Sports Medicine studied select Pilates movements to determine their effectiveness for activating ab muscles. The exercises selected were the hundred, roll-up, double-leg stretch and the standard crunch.
The hundred and double-leg stretch activated the deep core muscles more than the other exercises. The roll-up activated the lowest deep-muscle activity and the highest activity in the rectus abdominis (your six-pack).