“I’ll TAKE A SIX
by Patricia Mitchell AFAA
certified group fitness instructor
Do you spend countless hours in the gym every week, but
never see the results? You may need to change your workout. Our muscles
have a memory and become accustomed to the repetitive activities we
perform on a regular basis. If you want to see changes in your body, you
should alter your workout in some way every six weeks. A couple of
things are necessary for muscular definition. You can do hundreds of
abdominal crunches and never see that “six pack” unless you follow these
1. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! You can work out seven days a week and
still not see the results unless you eat properly. Follow the food
pyramid, watch your portion sizes, eat lean cuts of meat, and cut down
on fats and sugar. Determine the appropriate number of calories you need
on a daily basis and keep a journal of your daily food intake.
2. YOU MUST WEIGHT TRAIN! Weight training raises your resting
metabolism (muscle burns more calories than fat). Try to do some type of
resistance training 2-3 times per week. Lift enough weight to fatigue
the muscle the last couple of reps of your last set. Increase your
weight and/or the number of sets when you no longer feel a challenge in
your present routine. Remember you must allow a day of rest in between
weight training workouts in order to allow the muscle time to recover
3. YOU MUST DO CARDIO anywhere from 3-5 times a week. Determine
what type of activity you enjoy and do it at least 30-45 minutes per
session. Try cross training or circuit training to keep variety in your
workout. Add 10-15 minutes of yoga at the end of your cardiovascular
work to provide a flexibility component to your workout.
4. ADD THE FOLLOWING FIVE PILATES EXERCISES 4-5 times per week to
your workouts and you will be on your way to uncovering that "SIX PACK"
Single leg stretch- Lie on your back and bring your knees
into your chest. Lengthen your spine along the mat and let it make
contact with the floor. Think of this while performing the
exercises. Bring your head up and look at your belly button (imagine
pulling your belly button into your spine. Place your right hand on
your right ankle and your left hand below your right knee. Tug the
knee in gently two times and then switch legs. Do this for 6-8
repetitions. Remember to keep your belly button pulled into your
spine and your lower back in contact with the mat during the
Double leg stretch-Lie on your back. Bring your knees into your
chest. Bring your head up and lengthen through the back of the neck.
Pull your belly button in towards your spine. Inhale as you extend your
arms and legs straight out. (Arms are overhead and lined up with your
ears) Now exhale and hug your knees into your chest. Repeat this 6-8
Single straight leg stretch- While lying on your back, lift your
head up and look at your belly button. Extend your right leg straight up
and grab the back of the leg at either the hamstring or calf muscle.
Extend your opposite leg straight out in front of you. Tug your right
leg in two times towards your forehead. Then switch legs like scissors
and tug the left leg in two times towards your forehead. Repeat this for
6-8 repetitions. Keep your belly button pulled in and keep your spine
lengthened along the mat while performing the exercises.
Double straight leg stretch- Lie on your back. Extend both legs
up toward the ceiling. Bring your head up and look at your belly button.
Place your hands behind your head with your fingertips on top of one
another. Keep your elbows wide. Inhale as you lower both legs down
towards the floor for two counts (if your lower back begins to come off
the mat, you've lowered to far). Then exhale while you bring the legs
back up to start position. Do this for 6-8 repetitions.
Criss cross - Lie on your back. Place your hands behind your head
with your fingertips on top of one another. Bring your left elbow
towards your right knee while extending the left leg out in front of
you. Then switch by bringing your right elbow towards your left knee and
extending your right leg out in front of you. Remember to keep your
belly button pulled in while performing the exercises.