When doing sit-up type moves – ie lying on your back and peeling upwards and away from the mat – it is very important to maintain pelvic floor control.
Especially if you are doing Pilates to gain a flat lower stomach ie bikini area.
I have encountered numerous women (including a Les Mils CX30 instructor!) who were/are classic gym junkies – ab crunches galore. They used to have extremely defined six packs (which they didn’t actually WANT – not really the epitomé of feminine) and yet.... .. they also had pot bellies. Admitedly, not big ones but for the sheer amount of work they are doing, it’s quite surprising.
I couldn’t convert them to change to the dark side and take up Pilates on a regular basis – they liked the doof doof music and, I suspect, several of the single young guys in the ab crunch classes. Fair enough – I was young once too.
However, I managed to coerce them to attending a couple of my Pilates classes and coach them in ‘toothpaste’. They started using the concept in their ‘doof doof’ classes and apparently, not ONLY did they manage to ‘get the young guys’, they also managed to finally loose their pooches. For the record, I wasn’t able to fathom which they were more pleased about.
So, what am I talking about?
As you start to do an ab crunch type move, imagine yourself as a tube of half spend toothpaste. Your head is the end bit that’s been rolled up to squeeze more out of the tube. Your waist is the end where toothpaste comes out.
Come up from the floor and visualise the lid undone – toothpaste oozing out everywhere. Yeah, I know... as my daughter would say “Oh dad – eeeuugghhh”.
Now try again, this time, visualising your pelvic floor engaging to do up the toothpaste tube and STOP the toothpaste from oozing out.
The concept of activating Pelvic Floor is supine loading of abdominals is a common theme in Pilates classes – you (should) always hear the instructor ‘banging on and on and on’ about it.
Think of your Pelvic Floor as the antidote to a pot belly. If you do not engage it, the upper abdomals will dominant, giving the pot belly look. It’s the curious paradox my friends had encountered – ab crunchs galore and a pot belly!
Keep your pelvic floor engaged when doing these moves and it will help to recruit the transverse abdominals (TA’s)more. The TA’s are the innermost layer and what typically helps control how good you will look in that bikini.....
As an aside, another great visualisation for engaging Pelvic Floor is ‘imagine you are sitting on the loo, stopping the flow halfway mid stream’. Crude? Possibly. Effective? Almost universally!