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How To Tone Your Abs With Pilates

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There's nothing like pilates to firm and tone your lower abdominal muscles. Chris Freytag of Prevention Magazine demonstrates a few simple pilates moves that you can do at home to tone your abs.

Hi I'm Chris Freytag from Prevention magazine. I'm going to show you today some great exercises that are Pilates based movements to flatten and tone your arms. Belly fat is a topic for all of us as we are ageing, and one of the most important things is cardio exercise to burn the body fat. But it's also important to learn how to tighten and tone those low abdominal muscles so you look better and feel better too.

Now there's a muscle low in your abdominal area called your transverse abdominus and it wraps around your body like a natural weight belt. It not only flattens your abs, it makes your look better, but it protects your low back from injury so you feel better. To find that muscle just place your hands below your belly button and cough. You'll find that muscle down deep inside, and when we perform these Pilates based movements you want to pull that muscle in tight, learning how to contract and hold it in so you flatten your belly.

I'm going to begin with a flat band today and I'm going to place it over one foot for our first exercise called the scissors. Lay down to the mat carefully pulling in those low abs and lift one leg to the sky. Abdominals tight, you're going to switch legs, opening through the hip flexor. Go ahead and switch again, inhaling and exhaling, pulling your belly to your spine and really stretching through your hips and your hamstrings. Do a few on each side by moving the band to the other leg.

Second exercise, I'm just going to sit right up keeping the band on one foot and holding both ends in the other hand. Sit up as tall as you can, pulling those abs in tight, lengthen your other leg. We're going to work through out waist, our oblique area as well as our triceps as a bonus today. Lift that leg and as you extend that leg pull your arm out extending through the back of your arm, your tricep. Come back to beginning and exhale as you pull out. Trying to keep your spine long, your low abs tight, perform several on each side. One more here and release. Great job.

Now let's move on to one of my favorites: the double leg stretch. We're going to place both feet into the band and then take it and crisscross it in either arm. Go ahead and lay down to the mat carefully, get your feet up off the ground in tabletop position. You want to really pull those low abdominal muscles in and slightly press your low back down to protect. Go ahead and lift up through the head, neck, and shoulders, relax through the front of the body. Put all the work in those low abs. You're going to inhale, extend all limbs. As you press out, exhale. Pull it together, draw the belly button to the spine. Do it again, inhale, extend, exhale, pull it all back together. Now the lower your feet go, the lower the diagonal, the more work on that low back. So be mindful of that. And inhale, press, abs, tight, exhale. Pull in, let's do one more together. Extend and then exhale, great, let's move on to our last exercise.

Take the band off your feet and this time place it across your shins. Get your feet into tabletop again, abdominals tight, and go ahead and lay down. Take the band and wrap it around your hands a couple of times so that you can pump your arms. Now lift through the head, neck and shoulders. This exercise is called the one hundreds for its one hundred breaths. You're going to pump your arms to promote circulation and you're going to pull your abs in tight. Imagine that you're balancing a dinner plate right there on your abs. Now inhale five times through your nose and exhale through your mouth. You're going to count to one hundred with your breaths, ten sets, and then you're going to release down to the floor, and you will feel it in those abs.

Pilates is a great way to flatten and tone your abs. Now you can try these exercises at least three times a week and you could even do a little bit every single day. Pilates will give you results and you'll be on your way to a flatter, tighter midsection.

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