The Sit ups in Pilates are known as Ab Preps. This exercise is fantastic for strengthening the abdominal muscles as well as mobilising the upper back and working on the deep core muscles. There are so many different variations, some more challenging than others.
Watch Your Neck!
When doing sit ups it is so easy to use the muscles in the front of the neck rather than the abdominal muscles. This can create unnecessary stress and strain on the neck. The chin can sometimes stick out or poke placing strain on the upper cervical spine or the chin is brought down onto the chest overstretching through the back of the neck.
KEY TIP: Make sure the back of the neck is nice and long and the chin is slightly tucked in. Aim to maintain this neck position throughout the exercise. Imagine there is a peach between your chin and your chest and you want to hold it there! Look out over the knees as you lift up as this will help to maintain the alignment in the neck.
nitiate the movement from the Abs!
The abdominal muscles attach from the lower ribs right down as far as the pelvis. There are 4 different muscles – The Rectus Abdominus better known as the 6 pack, The Obliques (internal and external) and then the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles the TA or the Transversus Abdonimus. The job of these muscles is to stabilise the rib cage on the pelvis and to create flexion at the truck (i.e. the sit up movement) and the TA works as part of the deep core to stabilise the spine.
KEY TIP: when starting the sit up movement begin by activating the abdominals by sliding the lower ribs down to the hips and use the strength in the abdominal muscles to lift the head and shoulders up off the floor.
Don’t underestimate the power of your breath!
Did you know that your diaphragm muscles forms the top part of your core unit. By breathing in deeply expanding through the rib cage and exhale through the mouth knitting the ribs together helps to engage the diaphragm which will help to switch on the deep core muscles – pelvic floor, multifidus and TA.
KEY TIP: Exhale strongly as you lift up into your sit up position as if you are blowing out candles on a cake. Aim to draw in through the lower abdominal muscles as you breathe out to activate the deep core and the exercise will feel much different.
Building core stability and strength and learning to activate through the core is similar to learning a musical instrument. The more you practice, the better you get! As stated by Joseph Pilates “Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty not only to attain it but to maintain it”. Maintenance is key for injury prevention and for helping your body to stay strong and flexible.
To learn more about your core and how to strengthen and stabilise through the pelvis and spine, book in today for a 1-1 assessment. In the clinic we have the reformer which is a piece of Pilates equipment and is excellent for strengthening through the core unit. And we also run Pilates classes, check out our Instagram and Facebook for our latest class schedule. Call us on 021-2011159 or email on email@example.com to book in.