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‘Suck it In’: A Lesson about my Abs

I’m 5′ 2″ and 125 pounds with a ‘mesomorph’ body type (think Yellow Labrador Retriever versus Greyhound).  I’m happy with this…I love being strong and muscular.  That said, I’ve always thought of myself as being muscular in a ‘thick’ way.

About a week or two ago, Tara Bridger, our resident Pilates expert, and I had a little one-on-one mat session together.   Unfortunately, I’ve not taken too many Pilates classes, but as a certified Aerobics Instructor, I have taught my fair share of ‘Abdominal Classes’.  Up until this point, Tara had done a great job of educating me in the ‘core’ differences (pardon the pun) between Pilates and Abdominal exercises, but working with her first hand definitely enlightened me.

When I spoke to Tara about my stocky build and specifically, how it pertains to my ‘thick’ core, she said, ‘You have a very strong core, but you built the muscles out…instead of in.’  I didn’t realize that there was an option!  I thought strong and firm abs were strong and firm…regardless of how you worked them.  As it turns out, however, for the better part of 17 years, I had been pushing my muscles out during abdominal exercises instead of squeezing them in, hence making them ‘thick’.

Through my short private lesson with Tara, I learned that Pilates has the power to transform all of my muscles.  Pilates is based in strengthening muscles through lengthening versus building.  Since our session, I have spent more time focusing on drawing my abdominal muscles into my spine throughout the exercise, and boy, is it different.  It is also more challenging!  For the better part of the last two weeks, I’ve been ‘sucking it in’ and I will honestly say, I do see and feel a difference.  Granted, a very slight difference, but still a difference.   Tara also explained that Pilates, as well as Yoga, has the power to transform your body, to lengthen it and to make it appear longer and leaner.  To see these results, however, it takes a couple of classes a week with a good instructor, over the course of a few months.

I’m curious, has anyone experienced something similar?  Have you had a transformation from Labrador to Greyhound?

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Fitness Tagged with: , , ,
  • Interesting. I’m gonna try it!

    This may be totally off-base, but I feel like my abs do better when I do more lifting with other muscles (bench presses and all that). Perhaps it’s that the calories are going somewhere good rather than somewhere bad, or maybe all that extra lifting and grunting elsewhere is getting at the abs in a better way? Does that make any sense at all? I’m sure it’s all in my head.

  • Well, I would believe the more muscle mass you have everywhere, the better your abs do because you are gaining lean muscle mass all over. If you were fat and out of shape, it wouldn’t matter what you did with your abdominals, you would still be out of shape. Further, the more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism…which again, burns off the ‘bad’ calories. Lastly, your core muscles are actually used for all of your lifting. It is actually best to exercise your core muscles before anything else. That way you super tire them out. Check out

    Hope that helps!

  • Florence

    Yes, that is also what I learned during my post-birth exercises. By working your abs in you are also doing your pelvic floor a great favor: strenthening it to maintain the weight of a pregnancy. Working the abs out only pushes down on the pelvic area and can create damage in later years.

  • Alexa

    Yes! I completely agree. When faced with going on a super cool vacation to Mexico, I knew months before I had to get my body in shape. I began working all muscles, and checking off a list of body parts after I have worked them out. I would wake up with AM Yoga. I short little wakening workout to get ready for the real stuff. Next I would do cardio, a good 20 minutes is all anyone needs, then I would do an ab workout (10 minutes is good), then a cool down session, incorporating squats and lunges into my routine. I completely changed my body from a skinny one with no muscles to a toned, long, and lean one. I was completely impressed with the results. And it didn’t take much! After getting home from Mexico, I changed my lifestyle to a Vegan friendly one, and have noticed wonderful differences. I didn’t work out for a while after Mexico, and now that I am, my body has come back super quickly. Also a blessing thanks to the Yoga and Pilates.