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Isometric Abs: Strength in Stillness

Seek out a tree...

Seek out a tree…



“Seek out a tree and let it teach you stillness”. Useful advice, and not just for vacation. Visualize a strong, unmovable trunk and limber limbs that fluidly move in a breeze. This is useful to imitate in this effective isometric abs workout.  More importantly, thinking of this in our everyday movements will channel stress away from our necks and shoulders. By keeping the spine controlled while moving your limbs fluidly, the willing transverse abdominals (located deeper than the six pack) will do important work. This isometric abs challenge is for deep strength. Just be like that tree.

Beginners can hold light weights as a counterbalance. This technique also helps train the abdominals to achieve a smooth Pilates Roll-Up, if that’s your goal.

Isometric abs

Stabilize the spine in space

  • Start with a Spine Stretch, breathe deep and create space between the vertebrae. Reach forward in seated position.
  • Next, sit up straight with toes apart, activating the inner thighs, inhale deep trying to float ribcage far from the hips. Keep shoulders back and down
  • Exhaling, prepare the transverse abdominals, gently squeeze the lower belly as you descend to the above C curve
  • Go where it’s challenging for you. KEEP YOUR SPINE HERE FOR THIS WHOLE SEQUENCE
  • Picture the spinal column from the crown of the head to the tip of the tailbone.  Hold in place for 10 deep slow breaths
  • Move arms slowly OUT AND IN for a SLOW COUNT OF 8. Don’t let the ribcage push forward or spine float up.
  • Move arms UP AND DOWN for a SLOW COUNT OF 8, keeping joints soft.
  • Keeping shoulders down, CIRCLE arms for a SLOW COUNT OF 8 both directions


Isometric abs

Model Judy has strong transverse abdominals


  • Do another spine stretch and try to find your lowest C curve possible without letting the spine touch the mat, Judy is probably as low to the floor as anyone can be here.
  • Hold for a slow COUNT OF 10
  • lightly touch the lower spine to the mat René’s Tip: literally picture the 5 vertabrae in of your lumbar spine and lightly place them in the mat
  • come right back up to that low spot and hold again
  • DO 4 TIMES


This is one of my favorite signature sequences. It never gets too easy. You can always find a lower place for the spine, engage the transverse abdominals more, control better, or add more reps or hold the positions longer to make it more challenging. If you can engage your transverse, relax your neck, shoulders and limbs in these positions, you can do it anywhere in any position. That’s the goal. Make it a personal goal to visualize your transverse and engage it and relax your joints 10 times throughout the day. Stress will reside in less damaging places in your body. So just stay still and be strong!


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