Welcome to the final exercise of this program, Pilates Teaser. May consider Teaser to be the ultimate flat belly exercise. If you’ve progressively followed our program up to this point, you have all the skills required to master this challenging, but effective move.
The series so far:
- Exercise #1: Leg Circle
- Exercise #2: Roll-Up
- Exercise #3: Hundred
- Exercise #4: One Leg Stretch
- Exercise #5: Stretching the Hamstring
- Exercise #6: Double Leg Stretch
- Exercise #7: Crisscross
- Final Exercise: Teaser (you are here)
Today’s exercise, Pilates Teaser, represents the most complex exercise in this series. In addition to both legs being held out simultaneously, the abdominals work to raise and lower the chest rather than hold it still in space.
Final Exercise – Pilates Teaser
Initial position. Lie on your back with the head and shoulder blades off the mat and the abdominal wall drawn in toward the spine. Raise your legs at an approximately 60 degrees off the mat, if stability can be retained, and keep them together, with the knees straight and feet pointed. Now move your arms forward, palms down, with the hands parallel to the legs:
- Inhale and bend the upper trunk forward and upward until you feel the body balanced on the buttocks, as shown in the illustration. Try to keep the arms parallel to the legs;
- Exhale and bend the trunk back down to the initial position. The sequence is repeated 5 times.
Make Sure You:
- Pull strongly on the abdominal wall to prevent the lower back from arching or the pelvis from tilting as the hip flexors contract with force to hold the legs in the air, especially when helping raise and lower the torso in the 2nd and 3rd phase;
- The legs must remain stationary throughout the exercise. Use the hip adductors, the knee extensors and the ankle–foot plantar flexors to maintain the extended leg line;
- Concentrate on using the abdominals to achieve a smooth and progressive movement as each vertebrae lifts off the mat in the 2nd and 3rd Avoid hinging from the hips – an evidence of excessive use of the hip flexors;
- Create a long arm line by keeping the elbows straight. At the same time, avoid elevating the shoulder blades toward your head by as the shoulder flexors work to keep the arms appropriately positioned in front of the body;
- Coordinate the arms so that they maintain a parallel relationship with the legs;
- Mental image: imagine that someone is holding you by the toes, so that the legs remain entirely stationary, as you raise and lower the trunk only.
Pilates Teaser is a breakthrough exercise that builds abdominal and hip flexor strength and endurance while integrating skilled spinal articulation and strong balance. It combines the skills of fine articulation of the spine gained in Roll-Up with the legs off the mat practiced in Hundred and Double Leg Stretch. Notice that if the torso is raised too high for your current hamstring flexibility, the body will tend to fall forward. On the other hand, if the legs are raised too high for your current hamstring flexibility and abdominal strength, the trunk will tend to fall backward. A successful execution of this exercise will require a skilled counterbalance of body segments and coordinated co-activation of abdominal and hip flexors.
Pilates Teaser was selected as this series finale because it requires a combination of many modules of skills learned in the previous exercises. As before, if inadequate strength or skill prevents optimal form, use modifications until you develop the necessary components.
Important note: the weight of the legs is great and inadequate stabilization of the pelvis and lower back can produce lower back strain or injury. Moreover, this exercise is considered high risk by some people in the medical community and should not be performed if you experience any back discomfort.
If you find it difficult to smoothly roll up to a high V position, bend the knees slightly. This loosens the hamstrings to allow a higher position of the torso and lessens the difficulty by bringing the legs closer to the pelvis, reducing the weight of the legs.
Congratulations! You’ve finished the last exercise in this program and your core strength and spine flexibility will be the envy of your peers. If you liked this program, we have two more in the same series: exercises to improve your posture and bring relief to your back and spine, and exercises to improve flexibility and movement precision of your back and spine. Enjoy!
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