15 Pilates Exercises That’ll Work Your Core From Every Angle Without Any Equipment

No sweat.


Clara Biani |

Having a strong core is key to being fit from head to toe. So, if you’re looking to strengthen yours, adding a Pilates exercise routine (or two!) into your weekly workout plan is a great way to go about it. One of the biggest benefits of Pilates is its ability to build stability and muscle endurance in your midsection.

Better still, you can get all of these gains without using any equipment other than a workout mat. Below are 15 Pilates exercises that I feel form the bases of a solid foundation for your core (i.e. abs and back), which is why I teach them to students at my studio, Good Day Pilates, in New York City. Even if you can’t make it in to class, you can still use the moves below to create an at-home Pilates workout that’ll challenge your core from all sides.

These exercises are suitable for all fitness levels. Follow my instructions below and good luck!

Time: 25–30 minutes

Equipment: mat

Good for: core, abs

Instructions: Complete the prescribed number of sets and reps for each move and then continue on to the next exercise.

READ MORE: What You Need To Know About Doing Pilates For Weight Loss


Bridging

How to: Start lying on back with legs bent, feet flat on floor and arms by sides. Tuck tailbone and lift back off floor one vertebra at a time until torso forms straight line from shoulders to knees. Pause for a moment at the top to squeeze glutes. Reverse motion to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 10 reps.


Abdominal Curl

How to: Start lying on back with legs bent, feet flat on floor, and arms behind head, elbows wide. Engage abs, tuck chin slightly, and curl head, neck and shoulders off mat in that order. Slowly reverse the motion to return to start. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 10 reps.


Toe taps

How to: Start lying on back with arms by sides, legs bent at 90 degrees and feet lifted in air so shins are parallel to floor. Hinge at the hip joint to lower left foot toward the floor without letting low back lose contact with mat. Lift leg back to start position by engaging low abdominals. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 10 reps per side.


Bicycle

How to: Start lying on back with hands clasped behind head and elbows wide, legs bent at 90 degrees and feet lifted in air so shins are parallel to floor. At the same time, rotate torso toward right side while extending left leg straight out at 45-degree angle. Keep hips grounded as you twist. Come back to start position and swap sides. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 20 reps.


Side lying leg lift

How to: Start lying on right side, shoulders in line with hips, right leg bent so heel is in line with butt and resting on floor, left leg extended straight in air and parallel to floor. Raise left leg up a few inches higher then return to start. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 20 reps per side.


Clam

How to: Start lying on right side, legs bent at 90 degrees, heels in line with butt, upper body propped up on right forearm (elbow under shoulder), which is parallel to top of mat, and left hand on hip. Squeeze heels together, lift left knee up toward ceiling without changing the shape of the rest of body. Lower knee back down, never losing heel connection. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 20 reps per side.


Kneeling side plank

How to: Start lying on right side, legs bent at 90 degrees, heels in line with butt, upper body propped up on right forearm (elbow under shoulder), which is parallel to top of mat, and left hand on hip. Press into forearm to lift hips up until body forms straight line from shoulders to knees. Hold for 30 seconds, then lower back down to start with control and repeat on opposite side.


Book opening stretch

How to: Start lying on right side, legs bent at 90 degrees, heels in line with butt, hands clasped behind head, elbows framing face. Without moving hips, rotate left elbow and upper torso backward. Return to starting position with control. That’s one rep. Complete 6 reps on each side.


Prone chest lift

How to: Start lying on stomach with legs extended straight on floor and forehead resting on hands, elbows wide, resting on mat. Draw belly button to spine to support the low back. Lift head, chest, and arms a few inches off the floor using upper back muscles. Slowly return back to start. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 10 reps.


Bird Dog

How to: Begin on hands and knees with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Extend left arm straight forward to shoulder height while extending right leg back to hip height. Pause to check that hips and shoulders are still square to the floor. Lower back to start. That’s one rep. Complete 10 reps on each side.


Donkey kick

How to: Begin on hands and knees with elbows under shoulders and knees under hips. Draw belly button up and in toward spine to engage abs. While keeping leg bent at 90 degrees, lift left leg into air until thigh is parallel to floor without arching low back. lower back down to start. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 15 reps per side.


Kneeling plank

How to: Begin on hands and knees with wrists behind shoulders and knees under hips. Move shoulders forward over wrists and lower hips toward floor until body forms one straight line from crown of head to knees. Tuck tailbone slightly, broaden through collarbones and shoulder blades, and draw belly button toward spine. Hold for 30–60 seconds.


Full plank

How to: Begin on hands and knees with wrists behind shoulders and knees under hips, toes tucked. Move shoulders forward over wrists and lift knees off mat to create one long line from crown of head to heels. Tuck tailbone slightly, broaden through collarbones and shoulder blades, and draw belly button toward spine. Hold for 30–60 seconds.


Squat

How to: Start standing feet hip width apart and parallel. Hinge at the hips to push butt back and then sit down until thighs are parallel to floor. Lean chest slightly forward and extend arms straight in front of body for balance. Keep knees tracking over your second toes. Press into heels to stand back up using glutes for power. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 15 reps.


Lunge with hip hinge

How to: Begin in a lunge position with left leg extended straight behind body, toes tucked, heel high, and right leg extended forward, foot flat and knee bent, arms clasped in front of chest, and torso leaned slightly forward over right leg. Tip upper body farther forward over left thigh, hinging at the hip, then lift chest back up. Check that front knee is tracking over second toe. That’s one rep. Complete two sets of 10 reps per side.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com

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