Sit ups are the go to exercise for everyone who wants to reduce their belly fat.
Well, I’m not sure about the effectiveness of them, as your core doesn’t work that way. When you do a sit up, for many of us, the neck hurts. Your core actually likes to do more movement, it loves to rotate. It turns out that power lives in rotation. If you can’t rotate correctly, then you will be compensating somewhere for the lack of movement.
So what 5 Pilates moves can actually help your core connect and respond?
1. Not taught as a classic Pilates move, but if you go to a Pilates coach who knows their anatomy, they will always use respiration in initially. Place your hand on your lower belly, below the navel, and breathe into it for 4 slow counts pushing into the hand, hold for a count of 4, then breathe out for 4 counts as the belly gently lowers, and hold again, repeat. Own your breathing and the strength will follow. Your diaphragm is a lower back stabiliser, and breathing is your most repetitive movement during your day, and one that is affected by our seated posture, stress, anxiety and nutrition.
2. Criss Cross. Lie on your back, knees bent. Hands at the ears. Elbows wide. Pick the feet up. Lift the shoulders off the floor as you float the head, take the back of one shoulder towards the opposite knee, look to your back elbow, come back to centre and change sides. Aim to keep the shoulder blades off the floor. Keep breathing and repeat for 10 reps each side.
3. Double Leg Lift. Lying on your back, knees bent. Hands by your side. Palms up to ceiling, Float feet towards the ceiling, and lengthen the legs as if you are pushing the ceiling away with feet. Deep breathe in. Exhale, tight belly, lower legs away from you, you’ve gone far enough when you feel your lower back arch away from the floor. Lift legs back up. Repeat. Keep breathing, wide shoulders, relax the face – smiling always helps!
4. Double Leg Stretch. Start from lying on your back, hugging the knees in. Place hands on the outer ankle bones, keep head and shoulder off the floor if you can, exhale and reach legs away, arms reach by ears as if trying to touch the wall behind you, sweep arms down and around as you bring knees back in. Repeat for 10 repetitions.
5. Single Leg Stretch. Start lying on the back, hug knees in, then lengthen left leg away, close to the floor, other leg is still bent, holding outer ankle with right hand, and the knee with the left hand, then switch legs and hands, this time the left hand is reaching for the outer left ankle, and right hand is on the knee. Repeat for 10 reps as you smile at your amazing co-ordination.
6. Single Straight Leg. On your back, straighten both legs to the ceiling, grab the right leg with your hands at the thigh/calf/ankle, with head and shoulders off the floor, swiftly switch legs with the breathe. Repeat 10 times.
In all of these you can keep the head down, remember the neck muscles will start to tire and will take over when the core is also tired, so take a break when necessary, ensuring you aren’t compensating in other areas of your body. Form is key always, and above all enjoy and work this simple routine into your usual training programme, its great after a run or for an everyday core practice.
Based in North Wales, Mel’s expertise are in posture and skeletal health.
You can read more about Mel’s work and follow her on the links below.