Strengthening the core is one of the main objectives of Pilates. Many people turn to Pilates to get a flatter stomach and a long, lean core. The accompanying video demonstrates some moves designed to help you accomplish just that. Follow along for a visual reference, which will enrich the instructions below.
The first of these Pilates exercises for your core is called the Roll Up. It's performed lying on your back and works the full abdominals. Start with your legs together on the mat and your arms straight up to the ceiling.
- Inhale to nod your chin up, and follow through with your body on the exhale, bringing your upper body all the way up off the mat and touching your hands to your toes.
Return back to the starting position, and repeat as many times as you like. Then, try this fancier version:
- Starting in the same position, with your arms straight up in the air, inhale as you nod your chin up.
- This time, as you exhale and lift your upper body off the mat, also lift your left leg and reach your hands toward your raised foot.
Repeat this Roll Up variation several times, alternating between each leg.
The next, called Side Plank, works the obliques. For this rather challenging exercise, turn to your side and get into the side plank position. (See video.)
- On the inhale, lower your hip down to the mat.
- Exhale and bring your hip back up to the starting position.
Repeat several times, squeezing your glutes and engaging your core to feel those abdominals working. Turn to your other side, and repeat.
The next exercise works the lower abs and is performed lying on your back, starting with your hands at your sides on the mat, and your legs pressed together straight up in the air. It's called a Rollover Prep.
- On the exhale, press your arms into the mat, and lift your hips several inches off the mat.
- Inhale and bring your hips back to the mat.
Repeat several times and then pulse at the top for an added challenge.
The last of this series is called The Bicycle. Performed lying on your back, it puts everything together, works the obliques, and adds coordination. Go into a tabletop position (see video), with your head and shoulders raised off the mat, and hands behind your head.
- Exhale to curl the body up, twisting your upper body to the right and bend the right leg as you extend your left leg out.
- Bring your left elbow toward your right knee, pulling the abs in and lifting the body up and off the mat as you twist.
- Return back to the starting position, with your head and shoulders still raised off the mat and then twist to the other side, bringing your right elbow up to touch your left knee. Continue this rotation, alternating fluidly.
When performed as a series, these Pilates exercises work your entire abdominal area. If you perform them regularly, you’ll be rewarded with a tighter, leaner core.