Tag: abdominals

Pilates Exercise Of Month: Roll – Over

 Purpose: To stretch the lower back and hamstrings; develop spinal articulation and improve control of the abdominal muscles.

Note: if you have a bad neck or lower back, leave this exercise out.

  1. Lie on the mat with arms long by your sides; palms down. Lift both legs to a 60-degree angle from the mat.
  2. Inhale, lift the legs to a 90-degree angle. Initiate from the abdominals; bring your legs over your head peeling your spine off the mat. Keep reaching the arms long, shoulders pinned down. Don’t press onto your neck.
  3.  Exhale, open your legs just past shoulder width and flex your feet. Keep the back of your neck long to avoid any tensing. The arms continue to press into the mat. Your body weight should rest squarely in between your shoulder blades.
  4.  Begin rolling back toward the mat, feel your spine stretching longer and longer as you articulate down until the tailbone touches the mat.
  5.  When the tailbone reaches the mat, take the legs to just below 90 degrees and squeeze your legs together again. Repeat the sequence.
  6.  Complete 3 repetitions with legs together when lifting and 3 times with legs apart.

Head to Toe Checklist:

  • Keep your upper body glued to the mat- avoid rolling onto the neck
  • Don’t use momentum to roll over; use abdominals
  • Palms press into mat, arms long throughout.
  • Shoulders are stable on the roll down.

Visualization: Imagine your arms are lead bars pinning you to the mat.








Fall Into Pilates

 Tuesdays/Thursdays | 5:10 pm

In the Pilates Studio with Lindsey Jackson A perfect class for developing core strength. Twice weekly we’ll use the specialized Pilates apparatus called the Universal Reformer, which utilizes spring-resistance to gain core strength, develop muscle control, and increase flexibility while working your gluteals, abdominals, and back muscles.

  • Space is limited to 4 participants.
  • 6 Sessions for $180

For more information or to Reserve your spot , please contact instructor Lindsey Jackson at ljackson@sacdt.com or call 206.443.1111 x242.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Scissors in the Air



Benefits: Strengthens the abdominals, increases spine flexibility, stretches the hamstrings and hip flexors.

 Starting Position: Lie down on mat and bring your legs up to a 90-degree angle, toes pointed.  Arms long by sides, palms down.

1.     Inhale; prepare the body and scoop abdominals inward.  Exhale; continue to lift your legs up to ceiling (toes to ceiling).  Inhale; bring the hands underneath the hips with fingertips pointed outward and the wrists supporting the back and hips.

2.     Exhale; scissor the legs; one leg moves over the head as the other leg moves toward the mat in the opposite direction. Switch legs and continue to scissor.  Keep the  hips and pelvis still as you move legs.

3.     Inhale; bring the legs back up over the hips (toes reach to ceiling).  Exhale; allow your back to roll down to the mat, slowly and carefully, one vertebra at a time.

4.  Complete 3-5 sets

 Head to Toe Checklist:

  • Do not roll onto the neck
  • Keep the elbows parallel to each other (or as close as possible) & cradle the pelvis with the hands
  • Keep torso rock solid as you scissor
  • Breathe fully and deeply to facilitate the scissor motion

Imagine the legs opening wide like a handheld fan, then closing and opening to the other side.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Single Leg Stretch



Purpose: Single Leg Stretch strengthens the abdominals and the buttocks as well as improves coordination.

This is the first of five exercises termed as the Stomach Series.


1. Sit in the center of your mat with your knees bent. Hug your right leg and pull it in to your chest with your inside hand on the knee and your outside hand on the ankle.


2. Roll your back down to the mat, bringing the bent leg (right leg) with you; head and upper shoulders are off the mat. Then, extend your left leg out in front of you; let it hover above the mat at about a 45 degree angle or at an angle so your back stays flat on the mat.


3. With elbows lifted; chin to chest; inhale. Then, exhale and switch legs, bringing the outside hand to the ankle and the inside hand to the knee (left leg). Stretch your right leg long; hovering above the mat at about a 45 degree angle; making sure your leg is in line with the center of your body.

4. Repeat 8-10 sets. To finish, hug both knees in toward chest, put head and shoulders on mat.


  1. Scoop your belly at all times. Stay lifted (eyes on belly) and slide shoulders down away from ears.
  2. Remain still in your torso- not rocking your body from side to side when switching legs.
  3. Squeeze your buttocks each time the leg stretches out.
  4. Pay attention to the hand placement as it keeps your leg in proper alignment with your hip.


Visualization: Imagine you are anchored to the floor below.


Jocelyn Paoli, Pilates InstructorModification: Rest your head on the mat when necessary. If you have a bad knee; hold the underside of the thigh. For a bad back; extend the straight leg to the ceiling. As your lower abdominal strength improves, you can begin to lower the leg.

Advanced Plank Variations

After you have successfully done the beginner and moderate variations of the plank, try the more difficult versions. Below are eight different versions of the plank that I would consider more difficult than the last.

Correct plank form:

  • Wrists directly underneath your shoulders
  • Squeeze your glutes
  • Tighten your abdominals
  • Keep a neutral neck and spine
  • Create a straight line from head to toe
  • Do not bend at the waist causing a sag toward the ground or a lift toward the ceiling
Exercise Difficulty Example
One arm plank Difficult     One-arm-plank_1
One leg plank Difficult  One-leg-plank_2
In and out plank: progression-wide leg Difficult  In-and-out-plank_3
Ski Plank Difficult  Ski-Plank_4
Low oblique plank Difficult  Low-oblique-plank_5
Plank twist Difficult  Plank-twist_6
Swiss ball plank: progression-feet up Moderate-Difficult  Swiss-ball-plank_7
Swiss ball plank pike Difficult  Swiss-ball-plank-pike_8

If you need help or have any questions about these or any other variations of the plank please contact Amber Gruger or any of the other fitness trainers.

Moderate Plank Variations

Correct plank form:

  • Wrists directly underneath your shoulders
  • Squeeze your glutes
  • Tighten your abdominals
  • Keep a neutral neck and spine
  • Create a straight line from head to toe
  • Do not bend at the waist causing a sag toward the ground or a lift toward the ceiling
Side plank: progression-hip dip Moderate  Moderate-Plank-Variations_1
Walking plank Moderate  Moderate-Plank-Variations_2
Plank punch Moderate  Moderate-Plank-Variations_3
Mountain climber plank Moderate  Moderate-Plank-Variations_4
Swiss ball plank: progression-feet up Moderate-Difficult  Moderate-Plank-Variations_5


Here are five different moderate variations for the plank exercise. Once you have mastered the beginning exercises I gave you in my last blog (http://sacdt.com/blog/author/a-gruger/), you can work toward these. Master these next and then keep your eyes peeled for the difficult variations. If you have any questions please contact Amber Gruger at agruger@sacdt.com.


Beginner plank variations

Have you ever seen someone in the gym doing a plank and you’re thinking to yourself “wow that looks easy…”? While performing a plank may look easy, correct form is critical to receiving benefits as well as reducing injury. There are many different ways of performing a plank, but I suggest starting with the beginner variations until you perfect your form.

Correct plank form:

  • Wrists or elbows directly underneath your shoulders
  • Squeeze your glutes
  • Tighten your abdominals
  • Keep a neutral neck and spine
  • Create a straight line from head to toe
  • Do not bend at the waist causing a sag toward the ground or a lift toward the ceiling


Below are four different variations of the plank that would be considered a beginning level exercise but can be used by all fitness levels.

Exercise Difficulty Example
Modified plank Beginner  Modified-plank_1
Plank Beginner  Plank_2
Low plank Beginner  Low-plank_3
Reverse plank Beginner  Reverse-plank_4


Moderate and advanced plank variations will be coming soon. To prepare yourself master these exercises first. To make them harder, hold for a longer amount of time or up your number of repetitions. If you have any questions please contact personal fitness trainer Amber Gruger or any other trainer available.