The Pilates 4-Way Stretch made by Everlast stretches and strengthens your abdominal muscles. It consists of a four-handled resistance band "X" that you hook around your hands and feet for an upper- or lower-body workout. It's fully adjustable and portable.
What Is It?
The Pilates 4-Way Ab Stretch looks like two resistance bands hooked together with a sliding anchor. The anchor allows you to change the leverage of the rubber tubing to vary how hard exercises are.
It's no longer available new, but you can find it on auction sites or perhaps at a local garage sale. Similar products are also sold by other manufacturers. When new, the band comes with a fold-out instruction manual that details a number of possible exercises.
Read More: Fitness Band Workouts
Exercise Ideas with the Pilates 4-Way Ab Stretch
Be creative with the Pilates 4-Way Ab Stretch to increase your flexibility and to strengthen your core. A major benefit of the band is, like in Pilates, you learn how essential it is to brace and engage your core when you work your limbs.
Use the stretch band to work your chest as your legs brace the movement.
How To: Lie on your back and hook a handle around each foot. Move the anchor near your feet and raise your legs straight above your hips. Place another handle in each of your hands and bring them above your chest — arms extended. Open your arms straight out toward the floor. You'll feel the resistance band's tension against your chest and front shoulder muscles. To increase the resistance, lower your legs to a 45-degree angle with the floor. Bring your hands back to start, with control, to complete one repetition.
A single resistance band is sometimes too stiff for a squat press, which targets your thighs, butt and shoulders. Place the anchor in the middle of the tubing for equal resistance on your legs and arms.
How To: Stand and loop one handle over each foot and hold a handle in each hand. Bring your hands to your shoulders. Bend your knees and hips to squat down, as you extend your legs to straighten up press your arms straight up overhead. You'll feel resistance against your shoulders and thighs as you straighten your legs and press up. Immediately squat back down to repeat.
Strengthen your core, shoulders and hips with this all-in-one exercise.
How To: Lie on your back and hook a handle around each foot and hold a handle in each hand. Adjust the anchor in the center. Reach your arms overhead and hold them there, elbows extended. Keep your head in the mat. Extend your legs over your hips, knees straight. Lower your right leg to almost touch the floor. Slowly bring it back up to center and repeat with the left leg. Alternate for your desired number of repetitions.
Use your obliques — muscles that enable you to twist — for this standing challenge.
How To: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and loop two handles under your right foot. Bring the tubing across your body and hold the other two handles in your left hand. Hold your hands by your head to create tension in the band as you twist your torso to the left. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then change the band's configuration so you can do the reps to the right.