Pilates is a verified ab-builder, this we know. But what might come as a surprise is just how little time it takes to strengthen and sculpt your core with Pilates. All you really need is about 10 minutes a day, thanks to this Series of Five 10-minute Pilates ab workout.
The Pilates Series of Five is a popular (and for good reason) workout that involves — you guessed it — five different abs-focused moves, explains Pilates instructor Lacy Looney.
"I teach this series in every single mat class as well as every single private session that I conduct," Looney says. "Including the Series of Five into your daily routine is guaranteed to strengthen your abs and help you on your way to a toned and tight midsection."
For an effective daily Series of Five workout, do 10 reps of each move and repeat the circuit three times, resting for 30 seconds in between each round.
During each move, focus on keeping your hips and shoulders as stable as possible. Brace your core to press your lower back into the floor and reduce any stress on your spine, as demonstrated by Winnie Yu, DPT, CPT, a New York-based physical therapist at Bespoke treatments.
Move 1: Single-Leg Stretch
- Lie on your back with your knees off the ground and directly above your hips, shins parallel to the floor, feet pointed.
- Raise your head, neck and shoulders off the ground just enough to look between your legs.
- Grab your right ankle with your right hand and right knee with left hand, pulling your knee toward your chest while straightening your left leg an inch or two off the ground.
- Alternate legs back and forth with control.
Move 2. Double-Leg Stretch
- From single-leg stretch (see above), pull your heels together but keep your knees at hip-width distance.
- Grab your knees without lifting your shoulder blades off the ground.
- Keep your chin tilted towards your chest.
- Inhale, and reach your arms straight up by your ears.
- Simultaneously, straighten your legs out in front of you at about a 45-degree angle with the ground.
- Exhale, pulling your knees back to your hips as you wrap your arms to grab your legs. That's one rep.
Move 3. Single Straight-Leg Stretch
- Straighten your legs toward the ceiling.
- Wrap your hands around your right thigh.
- Pull your right leg toward your forehead as your opposite leg extends from your torso about a foot off the ground.
- Gently pull your right leg toward your forehead using your abs.
- Switch sides, repeating the same motion with your left leg.
- Alternate back and forth between legs.
Move 4. Double Straight-Leg Stretch
- Bring both legs straight together over your hips, heels pressing together.
- With your hands lightly placed at nape of your neck to support your head, curl your chin to your chest and lift your head, neck and shoulders off the ground.
- Inhale and count to four as you lower your legs toward floor as far as legs can, while your back stays on the floor.
- When you feel your legs bend or spine start to lift, bring your legs back up (that's your body's range of motion).
- Repeat this motion, staying within your body's comfortable range of motion.
Move 5. Criss-Cross
- Hold your hands behind your head to support your neck in the lifted position and bend your knees back to a tabletop with shins parallel to the floor and feet pointed.
- Twisting through your ribs, reach your right elbow across your body toward your left knee.
- At the same time, lengthen your right leg straight out in front of you about a foot off the ground.
- Rotate back to the tabletop position.
- Twist to the other side, keeping your elbows wide and reaching the left elbow across the body toward the right knee as the left leg lengthens.
- Alternate side to side, slowly and with control.