Exercise of the Month for May – “The Pillars”

Last month our theme in terms of workouts was: “adrenalin abs” and we focused on total body exercises that facilitate the release of adrenaline to help maximise fat loss and in the workout our total body exercise was followed by a core stability exercises to help firm and flatten our abs.

In April we also shared our exercise of the month which was a total body exercise – the Burpee, so this month we are giving you the second part of that workout combination which was a core or ab exercise.


These ab exercises are called: “Pillars”

Now these exercises do come with a few different names, so you have probably heard of them or even performed them, but I may just be calling them by a different name.

However, the most important thing you need to know about the “pillar” exercises is that they are the best exercises to work your abs. Many people mistakenly think that sit-ups and/or crunches are the best way to firm and flatten your abs and nothing could be further from the truth…It’s pillar exercises that you need if you want a firmer, flatter tummy.


What is a Pillar exercise?

In essence, it is a position that you hold! So, the main part of the exercise has you holding a certain position for a specified time period (anything from 5 to 60 seconds) rather than moving in and out of a position as sit-ups and crunches have you doing.

These exercises are magnificent for the abs and research and in the trenches experience have proved this. Research has shown that these pillar exercises get some of the best muscle activations (they switch on and work the abs best). At boot camp and in my physiotherapy practice, I have also seen people with long term back problems drastically reduce their pain and improve their movement and function by focussing on these exercises – however, a quick disclaimer…if you do have back pain, please consult with your doctor or physio before introducing any new exercises.

But, these exercises are also amazing to firm your mid-section too when done properly and often enough.
Let’s chat a little more about the Benefits of the Pillar Exercises:

  • Stability. You need a good measure of both strength and stability in order to function well and feel great. These exercises are fantastic stability exercises which means they focus on helping the smaller muscles around your joints to work better. They help protect the joints against injury.
  • No Equipment needed – I love this benefit!  A pillar exercise does not require any workout equipment, all you need is your body. You can do them anywhere: in the gym, at home, in a hotel room.
  • Posture. The muscles you work during these exercises are often referred to as the posture muscles as they are the key muscles that will help hold you in a good posture. So, one of the great benefits of these exercises is an improved posture.

 

Learning How to Perform the Pillar Exercises

There are 4 main pillar exercises that I like people to focus on:

1.       Front pillar

2.       Back pillar

3.       Side pillar (left)

4.       Side pillar (right)

Let’s have a look at each of the four pillars:

Front pillar

  • Start by lying face down on the ground or use an exercise mat. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest.
  • Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms.
  • Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground.
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds (if you are a beginner). Perform multiple sets and/or progress towards 60 seconds holding time

 

 

Back Pillar

  • Start by lying on your back on the ground or use an exercise mat. Bend your knees and place your feet close to your bum.
  • Lift your buttocks and back off the floor and form a bridge using your feet and hands – hands underneath your shoulders.
  • Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground.
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds (if you are a beginner). Perform multiple sets and/or progress towards 60 seconds holding time

Side Pillar (right)

  • Lie on your side with your right arm on the ground or use an exercise mat.
  • Place your forearm on the ground and lift yourself up to form a bridge with just your feet and forearm in contact with the ground
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds (if you are a beginner). Perform multiple sets and/or progress towards 60 seconds holding time

 

You can download an exercise workout and workout music to help automate your workouts here or come and join us for a 2 week testdrive at Fitness Boot Camp and experience the pillars first hand and get all the coaching cues from yours truly!!

We consider these exercises so important and crucial that we perform them at the beginning and end of our workouts and often have some more advanced variations included in the main workout too!

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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)


  1. Mérlen
    6 years ago

    Hi Rob,

    I tried these without having seen the photos and thought that I may be doing these incorrectly because they were so difficult, but now I see that i pictured them correctly 🙂 hahaha

    Will keep at it – 40 is approaching in 2 years – want to look hot!!!


  2. robinbuck
    6 years ago

    Hi Merlen,

    They do look and sound easier than they are…so hang in there!! It was great chatting to you on the phone and don’t hesitate to give me a call again if you need any further help.