So many people come into the Pilates studio because they want strong abdominals, and for most of us the “six-pack” is the image of those coveted midsections.
What is most important is that the abdominals are strong and flexible in order to function well. After all, those muscles help us breathe, act as our internal corset that stabilizes our spine and torso, as well as helping us move forward, backward, sideways, and around.
We all know that sexy look of the abdominal muscles showing under the skin, but what most people do not know is that with Pilates exercises and a proper diet, anyone can have six-pack abs. But the function is more important than the look!
What Are Six Pack Abs?
There are several layers of abdominal muscle in the human body, the deepest being the transversus abdominus (TVA), which wraps around the torso between the ribcage and pelvis and helps hold in our guts and stabilize our spines.
Over that are the internal (IO) and external obliques (EO), which wrap diagonally around the ribcage.
The very top layer is the rectus abdominus (RA), which runs from just under the breastbone to the pubic bones. The six pack that you see is the RA muscle. It helps flex our torsos forward, and is also like armor and protects us from injury when we get hit in the gut.
What About the Fat Over Them?
Here is where things get interesting. The fat over your abdominals will not magically disappear with any exercise, including Pilates.
That must be addressed by a good healthy diet, which will help you lose weight. Without the correct diet you can exercise your abs all day and still not see that six pack hiding under the fat. Again, if you need to lose weight, you must change how you eat in addition to adding in exercise.
If you are already slim but simply have no tone in your abdominal muscles, try starting a Pilates exercise program as soon as you can.
How Can Pilates Help?
Pilates exercises will help you both strengthen and achieve six pack abs in several ways:
Builds Lean Muscle Mass
Lean muscle is heavier than fat, but takes up a lot less space and is much more energy efficient. Any exercise that works your muscles against gravity or resistance will help to build lean muscle mass, including weight training, yoga, and of course Pilates.
Tones Abdominal Muscles
When done properly, most Pilates exercises work your abdominals in a very “pulled in” position. This Pilates Scoop is well known for helping to pull in the waist and flatten the belly.
If you do a lot of crunches and work your abs incorrectly, you will actually watch them get bigger and grow outward instead of pulling in.
In addition, Pilates exercises specifically target your abdominal muscles for both movement and stability in various relationships to gravity and resistance to really get them working!
Pilates exercises help strengthen your postural muscles, which will help you stand taller. This alone will help you look slimmer, as your abdomen and waist will be longer instead of compressed and round.
As your shoulders pull back and your spinal muscles get stronger and more supple, you will look slimmer in the belly.
So, if you are searching for the best exercise method to go along with your weight loss program and give you fabulous six pack abs, look no further than Pilates. Your back and neck will thank you, your posture will thank you, and your six pack abs will thank you!