Reformer pilates: do ab exercises tone your abs?

Are you trying to do 1000 crunches a day for a flat stomach and defined abs? If the answer is “yes” or “hopefully soon”, then we should take this a step back and think “Will ab exercises give you a flat stomach and tone your abs? 

What are the abdominal muscles?

The abdominal muscle group consist of the following:

  • Rectus abdominis.
  • Transverse abdominis.
  • External oblique.
  • Internal oblique.

Reformer pilates exercises abs exercises

The function of these muscles include stabilising the core for balance and postural support, assisting in breathing, and protecting the organs.

Abdominal obesity

Excess fat around the belly, is associated with a higher risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This is termed, “abdominal obesity” and is measured by waist circumference for men ≥90 cm and women ≥80 cm. Abdominal obesity can be caused by an unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle or excessive alcohol use. The better question is where do we go from here?

Ab Exercises vs. Fat Loss

There is a common misconception that abdominal exercises will shred off this belly fat and give us an hourglass waist-line or 6-pack abs. However, the current evidence base suggests that targeted ab exercises are NOT effective in reducing abdominal obesity. The reason is fat loss cannot be targeted to one specific area, rather fat is taken from anywhere in the body to be used as fuel. Hence, fat loss is generalized to the whole body instead of only to the specific area that is being exercised.

After abdominal fat is reduced, isolated ab exercises will help you to gain more definition of the abdominal muscles.

Although ab exercises shouldn’t be the first choice when wanting to lose fat, there are additional benefits of doing ab exercises. These include:

  • Strengthening the core
  • Increasing spinal mobility and stability
  • Improving balance and postural support
  • Improving sports performance that require core stability to produce force during athletic movements such as throwing, jumping, and swinging e.g. gymnastics, high jump, figure skating
  • Improving women’s health, especially pre- and post-pregnancy and for menopause to improve muscular control of the core

In order to achieve these improvements safely and effectively, an evidence-based core program with professional guidance is key. The UniquePhysio team are currently holding Pilates classes which includes a combination of Reformer Pilates and floor-based mat work. These classes are suitable for older women, pregnant women and just about anyone who doesn’t want to miss out on the wide range of benefits. For a sneak peek of a few of the fun exercises completed in the classes, please visit the link to (Instagram posts).

Our core muscles play an important role in our life and the earlier we start to build a healthier lifestyle, the earlier we can be doing the things we love, with more confidence and drive.

Check out our Pilates timetable and book in online via the link below to attend a Pilates class with UniquePhysio. If you have a friend or family who’s never been to UniquePhysio before, bring them in to receive 50% off both your bookings!

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