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The Crunch: 5 ‘Get Specific’ Tips to Get Better Results

April 16, 2015


What is the most effective core exercise?  It is easy to be bombarded with the “best core workout” claims but in the end effective core work comes down to the specifics of how you are performing the exercise more than the exercise itself. Choose an exercise, perform it with precision and control and that will stand a much better chance of giving you the results you are after. [clickToTweet tweet=”Choose an exercise, perform it with precision and control @edenpilates #pilates #workout” quote=”Choose an exercise, perform it with precision and control!”]

So with this in mind.  Here are a few tips on how to do a safer, more effective abdominal curl.

Get Your Position Right  If you are keeping your feet on the ground keep your pelvis neutral, meaning keep a natural space behind your lower back.  This is smaller than you might think.  It involves the bottom 5 vertebrae of your spine and no more than that.  In order to make sure your haven’t exaggerated your neutral position make sure you feel the bottom back of your rib cage staying gently connected with the mat at all times.  Elbows in line with your temples, not forced open.  Performing the exercise with good alignment helps to ensure the right muscles are working and that those muscles are working as effectively as possible.  You will get better results, faster!

Activate The Inside First.  Before beginning your curl think of lifting up from the base of your pelvis while simultaneously sinking just above your pubic bone.  This action “turns on” your pelvic floor (kegels) and transversus (deepest layer of abdominal) muscles .  These muscles work together to play a large role in stabilizing your spine so activating and strengthening them  improves back pain and helps to prevent injury.  It is also the combo action of the pelvic floor and transversus that work to shrink your waistline and flatten your stomach because they contract inward when used properly. They don’t always activate automatically though!  Most people need to engage them before the movement begins to ensure they are working at all!

Let the Abs Lead Let your abdominal muscles be what carry you through the movement.  Think of them being what pull your head and shoulders off the mat and what resists as you lower back to it.  Try not to use you neck or your legs to assist the movement.  Keep the exercise isolated to abs alone.  This retrains muscles that shouldn’t work, to relax and keeps the work where it needs to be (in your core).  Isolating the abs by trying to let go of anything else that wants to assist forces your abdominal muscles to work as hard as they can so you are getting the most out of each rep thereby making your workout much more effective.

Use Your Breath to Lead You Deeper  Start your breath out a moment before you move.  Your exhale helps your core activate.  Follow this flow: 1. Breath leads to abs 2. abs lead to movement  While you are flexed up use a deep inhale to challenge your abs further.  Think of the bottom of your rib cage opening 3 dimensionally as you stay flexed up and keep your abs working (not popping out).  Breathing in while you stay flexed up teaches your abs to stay engaged while you breathe.  Your body learns how to keep the abs strong at all times even when you aren’t thinking about it.  Consistent abdominal support is integral to lower back pain recovery and injury prevention and  feeling like your stomach is strong day-to-day feels fantastic.

Pay Attention to ‘the How’  Work slowly and methodically.  Don’t let momentum carry you from one rep to the next. Remember it’s not just about using your abs it’s HOW you are using them that really counts.  Think of contracting inward and flattening them as you workout not just contracting them any way they want to.  Training your abs to flatten during the exercise, not push out, works your core right down to the deepest of abdominal layers.  Working your muscles this way consistently is what will give you the results you are after.

Following these simple steps will help you get the most out of every rep you do.


Eden HauglandEden Haugland

Eden has trained both as a Pilates Instructor and a Professional Dancer. She began her career as a dancer in Orillia, Ontario; where she was born and raised. After attaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Ryerson University she went on to study and certify with STOTT PILATES®. Because of Eden’s background in dance she has had a long standing fascination with the biomechanics of the body. Since her early days at the Ryerson University Dance Program, she has long been on a quest to identify true sources of muscle pain and imbalance. Having endured a back injury while dancing, she began, and continues, to use her own body as a reference point for study. Eden has over 14 years of teaching experience and is the driving force behind the creation and development of the innovative programs and classes offered at the studio; namely POSTURE ACADEMY™, the studio’s highly publicized and successful ‘posture bootcamp’ Power Pack Option. She continues to develop and hone “The MI Method” which is used during one on one sessions within the studio. She is passionate about training in many complementary facets and consistently works to enhance her depth of knowledge and teaching style.