5 Minute Abs- The Pilates Series of Five

If you’ve ever tried Pilates, you’ve probably done the Series of Five. It is a quick, challenging core work-out that is included in any mat class as well as most reformer classes. It is very effective and easy to remember, so you can do it at home or almost anywhere! I will break it down for you so you can try it for the first time or so you can remember the exact exercises from the class you took.

1. Single Leg Stretch:

What it works – Single leg stretch works the abdominals, stretches the hip and challenges coordination.

How to do it – Start with both knees into your chest. Lift your head and chest. Take your outside hand on the shin near the ankle and your inside hand on your shin near the knee of one leg. Pull that leg deeper into your chest while stretching the other leg out on the high diagonal (You can go lower for more of a challenge if your core is strong enough and your lower back stays down into the mat). Switch legs. Continue for 10 sets.

The Breath – Inhale Hold start position. Exhale pull the knee deeper into your chest for a hip stretch. Inhale switch legs. Exhale Pull knee into chest and stretch other leg to high diagonal.

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2. Double Leg Stretch:

What it works – Double leg stretch works the abdominals. 

How to do it – Start with both knees into your chest. Lift the head and chest. Place both hands on each shin. Inhale extend arms by ears and legs out to the high diagonal or your point of control. Keep the shoulder blades off the mat throughout the whole exercise. Exhale circle the arms to pull the knees deep into your chest. Repeat for 5- 10 sets.

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3. Single Straight Leg Stretch 

What it works – Single straight leg stretch works the abdominals and stretches the hamstrings.

How to do it – Pull knees into chest. Lift head and chest. Stretch legs straight up to the sky. Hold one leg with both hands at the ankle or as high as you can. Lower the other leg to 2 inches above the mat or to your point of controll. Pull the leg in twice   and switch sides. Repeat for 10 sets.

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4. Double Straight Leg Stretch 

What it works – Challenges the abdominals with the weight of the legs.

How to do it – Start with knees into your chest. Take your hands layered behind your head and your elbows out wide to the sides. Lift head and chest. Stretch both legs straight up to the sky with your heels tight together. Lower both legs to 2 inches above the mat or to your point of control (as low as you can while keeping the abdominals engaged and contracted. If they go too low the abdominals will pop out and the work will go into the lower back). Repeat 5 to 10 times.

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5. Criss Cross

What it works – Criss Cross works the obliques and upper abdominals.

How to do it – Start with the knees into the chest. Take your hands layered behind your head, elbows wide. Bring one shoulder to the opposite knee as you twist the shoulder blades off the mat. Extend the other leg out to your point of control. Repeat 5-10 times.

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Tips: 

– In the beginning, you can rest between each exercise. Rock side to side with knees into the chest to release the lower back or look side to side to release the neck.

– If you have neck issues, leave the head down.

– If you want more of a challenge, don’t rest at all throughout the whole series.

– Add this to your regular work out regimen as the abs portion, or do it when you wake up and before bed as a quick ab work out!

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