Want strong, firm abdominals? Try the partial sit-back. It is a traditional Pilates exercise but is used in other variations in weight training sessions. The partial sit-back will work your abdominals while challenging your core stability and strengthening your back at the same time.
Sit on the floor with your legs approximately hip-width apart and with a slight bend at the knee. Start with your spine straight and your hands extended straight out from your shoulders.
Inhale to prepare. Exhale as you tuck your pelvis under without rounding your shoulders forward, and slowly start to sit back as if you are going to roll down to the floor, yet stop about halfway down.
Inhale and hold this position. Exhale and roll forward, squeezing your abdominals on the way back to your upright-seated position. Repeat 10 to 12 times per set.
This exercise originates from the Pilates repertoire. It is crucial to engage your pelvic-floor muscles and keep your navel drawn in toward your spine throughout the entire exercise. Keeping your deep core muscles turned on will ensure your back is safe and your abdominals develop properly (flat not bulging outward).
Recline back only to a point of control. If your feet fly off the floor, you have lost the control. If you collapse in your chest, you have lost control, and if you feel your lower back working or aching, you have rolled down too far.
When you are in the partial sit-back your spine should be in the shape of the letter “C.”
1. Roll down farther to challenge your body more.
2. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds once you sit back far enough to deeply challenge your core.
3. Sit back and rotate your upper body to the left and then to the right to activate your obliques.
4. Extend your arms one at a time above your head while in the partial sit-back.
5. Extend your arms together above your head while in the partial sit-back.
6. Lift one leg at a time up off the floor while sitting back.
7. Lift both feet off the floor and hold for 15 seconds.
8. Lift the arms and legs simultaneously for a huge challenge and great abdominal workout.
You may need to stretch your hip flexors before and after this exercise if they feel a little tight.
At first, you may experience some instability when you recline back, but don’t give up. This is just an indication that your body is coping with something new and is building strength. Variety is the key to achieving the best results.
Emma-Kate Stampton is a personal trainer and Pilates teacher. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.