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Bulging Belly Syndrome

Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you’re working your core every day? Maybe it’s Bulging Belly Syndrome? A common myth is that bulging belly syndrome is simply due to weak abdominals alone; however, the real cause is likely to be two fold — weak abdominals and a tight psoas muscle.

Your hip flexors (or psoas major muscle) is one of the two muscles that make up your illiopsoas and plays an important role in connecting the lower body to the upper body. It attaches to your lower spine and connects to the tendon at the top of your femur, but also to the bottom of the diaphragm. Weak psoas muscles cause the lower back to curve thus pushing out the stomach.  When the psoas works properly it pulls the abdominals back and gives you a strong, flat belly. Furthermore, the more we recruit support from the seat, inner thighs and hamstrings the more we can let the front of the body — the psoas and quadriceps relax and stay in a lengthened state as we work.

Abdominal movements in a Barre Evolution class should focus on:

  1. Lengthening the spine and elongating the waist.
  2. Small, controlled and precise movements of the core.
  3. Focusing on the scoop of the abdominals AFTER the waist has been lifted and lengthened is key. Otherwise, the abdominal muscles will have nowhere to go, but out. Think waist up and then belly in. This proper lifting and scooping in will prevent your abdominal muscles from pooching out with exertion. Working with more control and centering of your muscles will help you work smarter, not harder.

So, to avoid that abdominal pooch, be sure to engage your seat and pull your inner thigh muscles together and up into your seat. This will support maximum lift of the spine, before and during movement. Imagine pulling everything to the middle and let that centering lift and stabilize the movement of the spine up, so the belly can pull in.

Use this technique in signature Barre Evolution movements like Lotte Legs and Curl as well as in classical Pilates exercises like Pilates 5 Abdominal Series, Roll Down/ Roll Up and Spine Stretch Forward for a flat, tone stomach and open, flexible back.