What are Pilates Ab Exercises?

Alicia Sparks

Since Pilates exercises are intended to develop core strength, and strong abs are necessary for core strength, it makes sense that Pilates exercises are ideal additions to ab workouts. Some Pilates moves are basic, involving only the participant’s abdominal muscles, while others are move involved and call for other body parts as well. For example, many Pilates ab exercises rely a great deal on the participant’s legs. Other Pilates moves utilize a stability ball not only for ab workout purposes, but also to boost core strength and increase spinal stability. To get the most from their Pilates ab exercises, participants should perform counter stretch moves, which are designed to stretch the opposite muscles that were used during the initial ab workout.

Pilates ab exercises help develop core strength.
Pilates ab exercises help develop core strength.

The Hundred, which involves slightly lifting both ends of the body from the ground, is perhaps the most common of the Pilates ab exercises. The Roll Up has the participant rolling the top part of her body to build core strength. The Rolling Like A Ball move, on the other hand, actually requires the participant to roll back and forth on her spine to work the core.

Pilates ab exercises can help to slim a person's waistline.
Pilates ab exercises can help to slim a person's waistline.

Certain ab exercises during Pilates significantly involve other body parts, such as the legs. For example, both The Single Leg Stretch and The Double Leg Stretch focus on the lower abdominal muscles. The Open Leg Balance also helps participants’ work their lower abdominal muscles, but this Pilates ab exercise works to fortify balance, too. The Criss Cross Legs, a fluid exercise similar to bicycle crunches, helps to slim the waistline by working the oblique abdominal muscles. The Single Straight Leg Stretch might sound as if it’s meant solely for legs, but this Pilates move actually helps strengthen the core.

Several Pilates ab exercises with stability balls are variations of regular Pilates moves. For example, The Double Leg Stretch, which is typically performed on the ground, can be performed with a stability ball. The Prone Plank is another ab exercise similar to The Double Leg Stretch, only this ball variation is intended to work deeper core muscles than its original version. Of course, certain ball ab exercises require other muscles to be strong in order for the participant to correctly perform them. The Teaser On The Ball, for example, requires strong hamstrings and hip flexors.

Note that it’s important to add extension exercises to a Pilates ab workout. This is especially true if the Pilates ab exercises a person does are all designed with a forward curve in mind. Consider the Swimming, which has the participant on her stomach and eventually stretching her arms and legs from her center, working them up and down in a swimming-like motion. The Swan is another beneficial extension exercise, which works the abs, quadriceps, and hip flexors. These kinds of moves will help counter stretch and work the contrasting muscles.

Pilates ab exercises may use resistance bands to help build abdominal muscles.
Pilates ab exercises may use resistance bands to help build abdominal muscles.

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