I call the Full Body Roll Up the mother of mat Pilates exercises. It has been said that one Pilates Full Body Roll Up is equal to six sit-ups and way more effective than a bunch of mindless crunches. Fitness magazine reports that the Pilates Roll Up is 30 percent more effective than the standard crunch when it comes to those six-pack abs. WOW, right?
Joseph Pilates (1880-1967) created Pilates almost 100 years ago. Originally called Contrology, the practice is all about slow controlled movements that deliver serious results. When done correctly, Pilates requires a true mind/body connection and sculpts the abs like no other exercise routine I’ve ever tried. Having taught this method for the past 10 years (and managing my own chronic back pain with it), I can’t help but throw in a few Full Body Roll Ups at the end of most of my live classes. (And I bet I’ve included Full Body Roll Ups on almost every single one of my DVDs.)
That being said, the Full Body Roll Up really works and it’s one of my favorites. You can do Full Body Roll Ups every single day because they are great for your core. Oh, but the good news doesn’t stop there: the Full Body Roll Up strengthens your core and helps lengthen and stretch your back and hamstrings. The fuller range of motion engages more muscle fibers.
Now let’s go back to anatomy class for a minute. As I always say, knowledge is power! If you want a powerful core, let’s solve the mystery of your ab muscles. You have four main abdominal muscles:
Rectus Abdominis – The rectus abdominis runs vertically, flexes the core and is the crunching muscle responsible for creating the ever coveted six-pack.
External and Internal Obliques – The external and internal obliques run diagonally on the side of the torso. They flex the trunk forward, back and sideways and are responsible for rotation of the trunk.
Transversus Abdominis – The transverse abdominis is deep muscle that runs horizontally around your body and often is referred to as your low abs. I call it your “human girdle” because it helps secure and protect your low back while stabilizing and tightening your low belly. You can locate it by placing your hand below your belly button and coughing. This is the muscle I am always telling you to keep engaged.
Let’s review how to do a Full Body Roll Up:
Lie flat on your back with your arms extended overhead.
Inhale arms to the sky, exhale and slowly roll up into a “C” curve reaching for your toes. (Think about threading your belly button to your spine, and activate your transverse abdominus.)
Inhale and start to slowly go back in a C curve.
Exhale as you uncurl your body one vertebra at a time back into the mat.
The key is to keep your feet on the ground. Use your abs and back to gracefully articulate down to the mat and avoid using your hip flexors and glutes. If you have trouble keeping your feet on the ground, have someone hold your feet or use a resistance band around your feet and hold the handles in your hand. Or bend your knees as you come up. It’s always okay to modify!
Start with three to five and see if you can add a couple more each day. Remember, form trumps quantity! Let me know what you think of the Full Body Roll Up! I’d love to hear from you and hear what you think of your fab abs!
P.S. Want more exercises you can do from home? Try these!
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