2 Words to Find Your Abs that Pilates Teachers Want You to Know

Rectus Abdominis - The 6 Pack.

If you're one of the many exercisers somewhat mystified by the exact whereabout of your abdominals allow me to weigh in. For many, a six pack or simply a flat belly is part of their everyday anatomy. For others however, the picture perfect rock hard ab ideal is simply that, an un-achievable ideal. Luckily, the simple lingo of Pilates can be the fast track to the mythical land of strong and toned midsections.

First, an anatomy lesson. Yes, I'm going to make you wait for the magical words. So follow me down the rabbit hole if you will. Pilates makes use of your abs in a particular way. By bringing your attention to a few key muscles you can begin to tone and tighten your waist without any crunches or planks required. Really.

The Rectus Abdominis

You've heard about it, seen it and maybe longed for it. It's the actual muscle that makes those neat and orderly sculpted boxes on your torso. It allows you to contract your midsection and fold in half for all kinds of sit ups. When we think of abs, we think of the Rectus. 

The Transversus Abdominis

Here's the unsung hero of the abdominal muscles. This little fellow doesn't run up and down the trunk. Instead it runs around the waist. Pretty much all the way around the waist meaning it can actually behave as a corset. That is if, and only if, you learn how to use it.

What's more, the Transversus (anatomy geeks call it the TVA) actually slips some of it's muscle fibers behind the rectus and some of the fibers in front. That means that when you activate or turn on your TVA, you will also get your Rectus to fire.  Two for one. More bang for your buck. In the world of ab work, anything that works twice as well should be something you stick with.

So what to do with all this Anatomy info? It's fairly simple actually. You need just two words to bypass your brain and speak directly to your muscles. Pilates teachers use these words over and over ad nauseum. Drumroll, please.

"In and Up."

Pull your Abdominals in and up. Or, inward and upward.  If you are a new mom, or have lost touch with your abs, or simply never knew them that well to begin with, you may be confused. No worries. I created a short video originally intended for new mothers, but which works effectively for all those who want to connect to their waistlines in a safe and effective way.

The first exercise requires you to kneel on all fours. Keep your spine completely flat and do not allow it to round or arch in any direction. Hold completely still. Without changing anything let your abdominal wall just hang down, like a hammock.  Now slowly and steadily pull it in and up. Draw it up as high as you can without changing your position at all. Repeat until you feel fatigue in your waist - usually 12 - 15 reps.

Perform the same move kneeling or seated without the use of gravity. It will feel very different but it's important to transfer the exercise into your everyday positions.  

In and up with your abdominals are the only two words you really need to whittle your waist. It doesn't matter what kind of workout you enjoy - the in and up method will always be available to you and works well even when you aren't working out

Watch this video

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