Pilates Abs Workout With a Chair: Part One

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Work your abdominals (hard!) with these three great Pilates exercises that you can do with a chair. Using a chair is a great way to help you reach the deepest parts of your ab muscles and really get them working. But let’s be clear: you can’t use any old chair. Make sure the chair is strong and sturdy, has back support, and doesn’t swivel.

Start by sitting at the very edge of the chair. You want the tip of your tailbone at the edge of the seat. Then lean back into the chair and pull the knees into the stomach. Make sure you feel balanced. You might have to adjust yourself, moving down or up the chair to find your center. Once you feel stable, you can begin.

Extend your legs straight up into the sky. Create a "V" with your feet—meaning the heels are together and the toes point out in a V-shape. Extend your arms straight by your sides with the palms facing down. Pull your belly button deep in toward the spine. This should already feel like a challenge.

Begin pumping your arms up and down, keeping them straight.

As you pump the arms, inhale through the nose for a count of 5 and exhale through the mouth for a count of 5, for a total of 10 counts. Use the arm-pumping to help you keep count. Continue this for a total of 10x, or a total of 100 arm pumps.

Hold onto the bottom part or seat of the chair with both hands. Start with your knees bent. Inhale as you extend the legs straight away from your body and toward the floor (but never touching the floor). Get the legs as straight as you can, pulling the belly button into the spine. Exhale, and bring the knees back into toward your body, scooping the stomach. Do this move a total of 10–15x, depending on your strength.

Hold onto the bottom part or seat of the chair with both hands. Pull one knee into your body and extend the other leg straight, hovering over the floor. Pull the belly button into the spine. Then switch legs and hold for one count. Continue to alternate and switch legs for a total of 20 reps (or 10x on each leg).

Notes: As you work, imagine you are creating a bowl with your lower abs. Try to empty the bowl by scooping the lower abs. Keep the shoulder down away from the ears. 

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Pilates Abs Workout with a Chair, coming next week! Read the rest of Kit Rich's outFit with Kit series here.

Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness.