The 5 Best Pilates Exercises To Strengthen Your Core
From sitting to running, a strong core is essential to everything you do.
In fact, having a strong core is important to help prevent exercise injuries and build a strong foundation for other forms of training. If you’re looking to strengthen your core, one of the most effective ways to do it is with Pilates — and best of all, it’s low-impact.
During a Pilates class, every move requires you to engage your midsection — even leg exercises involve bracing your abdominals.
So what are the best ab exercises for working every muscle in your core?
The benefits of Pilates
The benefits of Pilates aren’t just limited to core strength. Pilates can improve your flexibility and range of motion, help improve your balance and also reduce your risk of injury. It’s also a great recovery workout and complements various forms of high-intensity exercise.
Five Pilates exercises that will work your core
Expect every muscle in your midsection to shake during these core strengthening exercises.
This simple bodyweight move is a really effective exercise for your core and also your glutes, quads and arms.
Start on the floor on your hands and knees
Place your hands directly underneath your shoulders
Step your feet back
For added stability, bring your feet wider than hip-distance apart. For a challenge, bring them closer together
Maintain a straight line from your heels through the top of your head, looking down at the floor
Squeeze your glutes, draw your belly button in to tighten your abs and keep your back flat, and hold for up to one minute
This exercise may look easy, but if done correctly, you should feel your abs and obliques burning after just a few repetitions.
Lie on your back with your legs in a tabletop position, so your knees are bent at 90 degrees
Keeping your spine neutral and your neck long, draw your belly button into your spine, and slowly begin to lower one knee so your toe comes to the floor with control
Gently tap then lift back up to the starting tabletop position and repeat with the other foot
Inhale as you lower, exhale as you pull your leg back
Aim for 20 reps
This is a great exercise for your glutes, lower back, and core. Just remember to keep your face looking down towards the mat so you’re not craning or straining your neck by trying to look up.
Lie on your stomach with your arms extended overhead and your legs straight and together
Keep your shoulder blades back and down, and your shoulders away from your ears
Lift one arm and your opposite leg off the floor, squeezing at the top and slowly lowering
Repeat with the opposite arm and legs
Get your blood pumping and improve your cardiovascular health while pushing your abs to the limit.
Start in a high plank position, keeping your back straight and your head in line with your spine
Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders, your arms fully extended and your fingers facing forward, slightly spread apart
From this position, bring your knees towards your chest one at a time, trying not to rock your torso or hips from side to side
The hundred is a classic Pilates exercise, named after the 100 beats of your arms while holding your legs extended and your head and shoulders off the mat.
Lie on your back and lift your head and upper back off of your mat, so that only the base of your shoulders is touching the ground.
Lift your legs off the floor and bend your knees into a 90-degree position
Place your arms by your sides and extend them out towards your toes
Pulse your arms up and down by just a few inches for 100 reps
Benefits of working your core
A strong, engaged core enhances both balance and stability, while also helping to prevent back pain, improve your posture and boost your overall athletic performance. Whether you’re swinging a golf club, reaching for a glass from the top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes, a strong core is essential for both day-to-day activities and exercise.
Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony.
Strengthen your core with Pilates with Sara
Whether you’re a Pilates beginner or looking to include more core work in your training, Pilates with Sara Colquhoun is a great place to start. It’s a 16-week program, available exclusively on the Sweat app, that aims to increase flexibility, core strength and improve full-body muscle definition through workouts that will challenge you.
Suitable for any fitness level, you can do Pilates with Sara as your main training program, or switch it up and choose on-demand classes to complement other training styles.
Ready to activate all of your muscles?
Delve into the world of Pilates and find out for yourself how this training style can increase your flexibility, improve your posture, enhance your mental health, and more.
Let us know your favourite Pilates moves in the comments below.
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.