Bondi Beauty Spoke to Pilates expert and ex-professional dancer Olga Tamara about how to achieve washboard abs.
Olga Tamara has over 30 years experience as a dance teacher, personal fitness trainer and Pilates instructor. She was a classical dancer with the Australian Ballet Company from 1971 – 1976. Since 2001, Olga has turned to focus on Classical Pilates, owning her own Pilates studio, Authentic Pilates Studio, in Lilyfield, Sydney.
Bondi Beauty spoke to Olga about the best exercises women can do to get a flat stomach and washboard abs. Here’s what she had to say:
“Everyone wants toned abs, and the good news is that anybody can achieve that washboard look.
The bad news is that there is no miracle quick-fix path to a flat, toned stomach, you need to put some time and hard work in.
This is a quick yet challenging at home workout, guaranteed to get you on the right path to washboard abs. It’s called the ‘pilates series of 5.
SINGLE LEG STRETCH
- Start lying on your back with head and shoulders raised off the mat. Pull your right leg towards your chest, with hands on your knees elbows wide, chest open. Make sure your tailbone stays flat and pelvis is stable.
- Extend the left leg out in front at 45 degrees or higher. Make sure you keep your lower back anchored to the ground. Each time the knee comes towards the chest try to feel the sensation of pulling your abdominals away from your thigh to enhance the feeling of scooped abs.
- Breathe in then change legs and hand positions keeping elbows wide and chest open.
- Inhale for two sets and exhale for two sets.
- Do 10 sets
TIP: If your neck is tender or weak, execute the exercise with hands behind the head- supporting the neck. It can also be done with hands on the floor to help keep shoulders relaxed and neck elongated.
DOUBLE LEG STRETCH
- Bring both knees into your chest. Head and shoulders are lifted and hands are placed on the knees or ankles if possible.
- Inhale and stretch your body long, reaching both arms simultaneously above your head while you stretch both legs out at 45 degrees above the floor.
- Hold for 2 seconds.
- Exhale slowly while you circle the arms around in a wide sweeping movement and draw the knees back to the start position hugging the knees firmly to your chest.
- Do 10 sets
TIP: Use your hands behind the head to support the neck but don’t let the legs drop lower than 45 degrees. Keep your navel anchored to your spine. You don’t want your back to lift off the floor! Exhale as you bring knees into your chest to allow for deeper connection into the powerhouse. If your back is weak extend arms and legs at 90 degrees until you gain strength.
SINGLE STRAIGHT LEG
- As you lift your head and shoulders off the mat, bring both knees into your chest.
- Extend the right leg to the ceiling and hold with both hands on the calf (or ankle if you can) as you stretch the other leg just above the floor.
- Anchor your spine to the floor and pull the raised leg towards you with a double pulse as you scoop your abs. (Catch the leg and double pulse towards you).
- Scissor the legs keeping them straight and repeat on the left leg.
- Do 10 sets.
TIP: Inhale for two sets and exhale for two sets, keeping your elbows wide and open to the side, being careful not to tense your shoulders or neck area. Work to a rhythm and focus on drawing your navel to your spine. Draw your abdominals in more as you scissor the legs to get a deeper workout.
DOUBLE STRAIGHT LEG
- Place your hands behind your head with head and shoulders raised, and legs together at 90 degrees, connecting the gluteus and abdominals. Reach legs to the ceiling.
- Breathe in as you lower the legs towards the ground, keeping them straight for three counts. Exhale as you lift the legs for one count, deepening the abdominal connection. Repeat 10 times.
TIP: Only lower the legs as far as you can while keeping the back long and firmly placed on the floor. This should be done with bent knees until you are strong enough to do the exercise with fully extended legs. If you have a weak back, place hands underneath the pelvis for lumbar support keeping the legs bent and do a smaller range of movement
- Lying on your back with knees bent into your chest, place your hands behind your head with the elbows extended out to the side, lift head and shoulders.
- Extend your right leg out long in front, maintaining a flat back. Simultaneously, twist your upper body, reaching your right shoulder to your left knee.
- Reach to your back elbow to increase the stretch. Inhale as you twist and exhale on the stretch. Return to the centre and repeat on the other side.
- Repeat, making sure you hold the twist and that the hips are anchored and aligned. Do 10 sets.
TIP: Feel the stretch and hold the twist. Maintain control and be sure to twist from the waist, not from the neck and shoulders.
For best results, repeat this series two or three times a day with no break in between each exercise – it takes less than 5 minutes to do one set so repeat a few times each day to get your core strong fast.”
Olga Tamara is the founder and principal trainer at Sydney’s Authentic Pilates studio