The road to fitness and toned muscles can be a long and hard one, especially when most people are time poor. For those of you who have battled the bulge, there is little doubt as to which area is the most difficult to slim down. The fat around the tummy is one of the most obstinate. Once that waistline starts getting out of line, it seems to take forever to get it back on track. The other difficult area is your arms. No amount of walking or jogging is going to tone up your arms.
But, don’t despair. There is hope for you yet.
Understanding the bulge
First off, you need to understand the elements that conspire to give your tummy a wobble. Visceral fat is a protective layer between your organs, which in some cases, also acts as a storage area for nutrients. Generally, women tend to have less of this as they store nutrients mainly in the form of Subcutaneous fat. This is the layer that is right under the skin and the one that adds to a “flabby” stomach. Finally, one of the key reasons for a loose tummy is a weak core.
Another bane of a great summer body is flabby arms. This one is actually quite straight forward. Women naturally have more fat in the upper arm region. Add lack of muscle tone, maybe even reduced elasticity of the skin due to age, and you have a situation where you don’t feel comfortable wearing your favourite tank top (even though you should!)!
How, then, do you tackle the flab? Is there no easy way around this problem? Well, you may have not yet gotten around to trying Reformer Pilates, but you have most certainly heard of it. Joseph Pilates developed a system of physical fitness called “Contrology” specifically to help rehabilitate soldiers injured in World War I. It was designed to improve strength, posture, and flexibility. Years later, the system came to be called as Pilates, in honour of Joseph Pilates.
Reformer Pilates is a branch of Pilates which involves the use of the Pilates Reformer Machine. The Reformer machine makes the regular mat-based Pilates exercises more fun by introducing resistance through the use of springs. The Reformer Machine allows you to target smaller muscle groups. Mat Pilates, on the other hand, is great when it comes to targeting larger muscle groups. It concentrates on body stability and posture more than flexibility and muscle strength.
Reformer Pilates helps tone up flabby tummy and arms
The resistance introduced by springs in the Reformer machine to regular mat Pilates exercises helps target specific muscle groups. Increasing the resistance in a Reformer machine helps tone up the larger muscle groups, such as Gluteus Maximus, Quads and Hamstrings. However, reducing the resistance in the machine helps Reformer Pilates tone the abs by targeting one of the main areas of fat in the stomach, while helping burn off the rest. Pilates strengthens core muscles in the abdomen, pelvic floor, and back which tighten up the stomach and helps burn off the rest of the fatty layers.
Other than the Reformer machine itself, breathing is an important part of Pilates, be it mat or reformer. The correct style of breathing when doing reformer Pilates engages the core, thus helping tone up the abdominal muscles.
Additional benefits of Reformer Pilates
However, there is yet another, completely different, factor that affects fat levels in your stomach. Stress results in the accumulation of fat overall, and particularly in the abdominal region. Stress releases a hormone called Cortisol, which sends the body into panic mode and tells it to start conserving more and more food into its fat reserves. This means that even if you eat less, you end up adding to your waistline.
Because of its slow and steady movements, and concentration upon heavy breathing, Pilates is a great tool for mindfulness and therefore helps with stress relief and meditation. This, in turn, calms the mind and tells it that the body is out of danger and that it can use up its fat reserves, which means you end up losing weight.
Best Reformer Pilates exercises for the tummy and arms
Abdominal Curls: These are targetted specifically to tightening up your core. Slight differences in how you do these exercises will ensure that not only your abs but also your arms are toned up.
Planks: Planks on the Reformer can be amazing for blasting waist, chest and upper arm fat.
Side Rotation: This set of exercises is great for the upper arm, underarms, and obliques.
Long Box: This series of exercises tighten up the midsection and waistline.
Reformer Pilates exercises targeted towards the abdomen and arms can show discernible differences in a little as a week! Want to learn more about how to start on a Reformer Pilates regimen? Click Find a Studio, choose a location, and book in for a free Pilates Body Assessment today!