A 10-Minute Pilates-Inspired Ab Workout for When You’re Missing the Studio

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If you've ever taken a Pilates class or done a DVD in your living room, you know just how effective this workout is at sculpting your abs. That's because every move starts by engaging your core (called your powerhouse in Pilates) and requires you to recruit those muscles for the duration.

This 10-minute Pilates workout is a slow burn for your abs.
Image Credit: fizkes/iStock/GettyImages

You don't have to be very far into your workout to start feeling the burn, either. With the below Pilates-inspired workout from Elise Joan, Beachbody trainer and creator of Barre Blend, you can be in, out and done in just 10 minutes.

Want more core-strengthening workouts? Join the LIVESTRONG.com 30-Day Abs Challenge!

Do: each of the moves for one minute before moving onto the next exercise.

Move 1: Roll Up

  1. Sit up tall with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
  2. Reach your arms overhead and begin to roll onto your back, lowering your arms as you lower your torso.
  3. Think about lowering one vertebra at a time.
  4. Once you're lying all the way down, reach your arms overhead again.
  5. Reverse the movement and roll up one vertebra at a time until you're back to seated.

Tip

If you want to modify, try a standard sit-up or crunch variation.

Move 2: Scissor

  1. Lie on your back and lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor. Hover your legs a few inches off the floor.
  2. With your shoulders still off the floor, raise one leg until it's perpendicular to the ground and grab the back of that thigh with both hands.
  3. Lower that leg until it hovers just about the ground, simultaneously switching legs so that the opposite leg is raised.
  4. Continue alternating which leg you kick up.

Tip

If you need a modification, bend your knees as you pull them in and extend them out at a 45-degree angle or greater.

Move 3: Rock and Roll Up

  1. Sit back on your tailbone, cross your ankles and grab your knees.
  2. Lift your feet off the floor and balance on your tailbone.
  3. Using the power of your abdominal muscles, roll onto your back.
  4. Use your abs to pull yourself back up to seated and repeat.

Tip

You don't need to come all the way up to your tailbone if your core isn't strong enough to pull you up. Only rock as far as you're able.

Move 4: Supine Twist

  1. Lie on your back with your arms extended out from your shoulders in a T shape.
  2. Lift your legs and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle so that your shins are parallel to the floor.
  3. Keeping your lower back rooted into the ground, lower both legs to one side, stopping a few inches above the ground (or as far as you can go without arching your lower back).
  4. Use your obliques to pull your legs back to the start.
  5. Rotate to the other side and repeat.

Tip

You have two options for modifications: only lower the outer leg toward the floor while the inside leg stays put or lower both legs toward the floor and then raise one leg at a time back to the center.

Move 5: Tricycle

  1. Lie on your back and lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor. Hover your feet a few inches off the floor.
  2. Bend one knee into your chest and grab behind that thigh with both hands.
  3. Switch legs, extending one out as you bring the other into your chest.
  4. Continue bending and straightening. On every third bend, hold the bent-knee position as you pulse your torso up a few inches higher.

Tip

To make things a bit easier, place your hands behind your head, elbows flaring out. And when you extend your legs, have them reach out at a 45-degree angle or greater.

Move 6: Criss Cross

  1. Lie on your back and lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor, both hands behind your head with elbows out. Hover your feet a few inches off the floor.
  2. Bend your left knee into your chest as you twist your right elbow to meet it.
  3. Come back to center before twisting to the right side, leading with your left elbow.

Tip

You have the option to substitute this move for side crunches: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, right ankle crossed over left knee. Crunch up, reaching your left elbow toward your right knee. Do 30 seconds on each side.

Move 7: Double Leg Lift

  1. Lie on your back with your hands along your sides or underneath your tailbone for support.
  2. While keeping your lower back on the floor and abs engaged, lift both legs up until they're perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Lower them back down to the floor, hovering a few inches above the ground.

Tip

Try only lifting one leg at a time, only going as far down as you can without your lower back lifting off the ground.

Move 8: Dig and Drag

  1. Lie on your back with your hands along your sides or underneath your tailbone for support.
  2. While keeping your lower back on the floor and abs engaged, lift both legs up until they're perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Bend your knees into your chest.
  4. Slowly extend them out straight a few inches off the ground.

Tip

Alternatively, you can perform the move on one leg at a time and not extend your leg as close to the floor. The further you hover your leg above the ground, the easier the move is.

Move 9: Hip Lift

  1. Lie on your back with your hands along your sides or underneath your tailbone for support.
  2. Lift both legs several inches off the floor together, then open them to hip-distance apart.
  3. Bring your legs back together, crossing one ankle over the other.
  4. Keeping your ankles crossed, lift both legs until they're perpendicular to the floor.
  5. Engage your abs to lift your hips off the floor toward the ceiling.
  6. Lower your hips back down to the floor, then lower your legs to hover a few inches above the ground.
  7. Open your legs, re-cross them with the other leg on top and repeat.

Tip

To modify, place your hands under your tailbone and only do the top portion of the movement, pulsing your hips up and down a few inches off the ground.

Move 10: Roll Down

  1. Start in a modified Boat pose, balancing on your tailbone with knees bent and pulled to your chest, arms extended straight out from your chest.
  2. Extend your legs out straight as you lean your torso back and down toward the floor. Keep your shoulder blades off the ground throughout the entire movement.
  3. Contract your abs to lift yourself back up to the starting position.

Tip

To make things a bit easier, perform this move with your feet on the floor, rolling back and lifting up several inches.

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