The Pilates roll up works the abdominals but it also works on spinal articulation. When performed correctly the rollup is more effective on strengthening the abdominals than countless crunches.
As a side note you may have noticed the count or rep range in Pilates is remarkably less than most fitness exercises, except for the Pilates hundred. You may have wondered why, and I will let Mr Pilates answer this with one of his many quotes ” A few well designed movements properly performed in a balanced sequence are worth more hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.” The focus in Pilates quality over quantity.
Let’s get back to the Roll up. Personally, I have had a love hate relationship with this exercise when I just started Pilates, because I was not able to perform the exercise correctly, but through practice and some helpful tips/modifications on my Pilates journey the roll up has become one of my favorite exercises. The purpose of this article is to share some of the modifications I not only used for myself but ones I use with my clients.
Common “roadblocks” while performing this exercise is 1. weak abdominals 2. a tight low back 3. not recruiting the bum and hamstrings.
The first tip is to keep your knees bent and as you roll up straighten your legs.
2. Place a rolled up towel under your low back and press into the towel as roll up and roll down.
3. Holding light weights 1-2lbs during the exercise will help.
4. Use your hands to help you, this is done by holding the back of your thighs
5. The half roll back is a great way practice.
Instructions for Half Roll Back: Sit tall and roll back to about the top of your pants, maintaing the C curve, and roll back up, again you can hold the back of your thighs to assist.
6. Remember to press the back of your thighs into the mat and to squeeze your glutes.
7.Place a theraband around your feet and holding the ends in your hands. Use the band to assist the roll up.
Be patient with your self and keep practicing.
Pilates is grace, strength and stability through movement.