Personal trainer Laura Williams recommends doing this workout three times a week for results. Pilates has stood the test of time. A form of exercise that recruits crucial core muscles for every flex, bend, and twist, this time-honored practice makes for the perfect sculpting pit-stop.
We spoke to certified personal trainer Laura Williams about the most effective, efficient Pilates moves in this 10-minute routine that will strengthen your core.
Do it three times a week and you’ll be delighted at the results.
The set up
From a standing position, place fingertips on hip bones and trace them inwards. Then draw in that lower part of your tummy, back towards your spine. Imagine you’re trying to bring both hip bones together – it’s that sensation, not lifting your torso upwards.
1. Leg pull down
Now you’ve mastered this abdominal scooping, move into the Leg Pull Down, an effective plank-based move that will strengthen tum and upper body.
From a push-up position, with hands underneath shoulders, weight on palms and balls of feet and your body forming a straight line from shoulder to buttock, slowly lift your left leg to hip height, then lower and repeat on the right side.
Keep that stomach tension maintained throughout.
Do a total of 10 leg lifts.
- Avoid over-lifting your leg – any curve in the lower back and it means your leg’s too high.
Then move into this adapted version of the ultimate core-carving move, the Roll-Up.
Sit on the floor with legs bent in front of you, fleet flat, and lightly rest hands on backs of thighs.
Draw the lower part of stomach in (think hip bones coming together again) and edge back towards the floor. Pause, before edging back a little further.
Continue until the middle of your back is on the floor before returning to your starting position with control.
Do 5 of these.
- If your stomach muscles start ‘shaking’, ease up. Return to a position where this isn’t happening.
- Try not to grip the thighs – you’re meant to use thighs for support.
Now we progress to Rolling Like a Ball, a balance exercise that really targets the lower abdominal area.
Sit on the floor, with knees bent, feet off the floor, hands resting on shins.
Draw the stomach in again and roll back, with control, to the floor, until shoulder blades are on the floor.
Then roll forward ensuring you don’t ‘throw’ your body forward. Aim to keep feet off the floor throughout.
Do 8 rolls.
- Make sure you roll onto backs of shoulders, never onto your neck.
- Don’t force yourself to roll back up. If you get stuck, use your hands to support you.
4. Single leg circle
Next, move to a lying position, on your back, as we prepare for the Single Leg Circle – one of those exercises that, despite its appearance, should feel tough if you’re doing it right.
Lie on your back with arms by sides, legs on the floor. Extend your right leg into the air, above your hip, using your stomach drawing-back to keep your back flat on the floor and your hips still.
Start to make circle shapes with your right leg in the air, drawing it across the body, around and down, in a clockwise direction.
Do 5 circles before switching to anti-clockwise. Then repeat on the other leg.
- Your priority is to keep your torso still – maintain your stomach drawing-in as the leg circles away from the body.
- If you feel anything in your back, reduce the size and depth of your circles.
We remain on the floor as we move to the Bridge.
Lie on your back with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor.
Draw stomach in and lightly clench buttocks as you lift your hips, so that your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees.
Remain in your bridge, continuing to draw your stomach in, and pushing your heels into the floor, for a count of 5.
Return to your starting position.
Repeat a total of 5 times.
- Try to avoid clenching toes. This very common mistake means lower limbs overwork.
- You shouldn’t feel this in your back. If you do, lower the upper body, and if it persists, stop.
6. Criss Cross
And we’ll finish with the effective Criss Cross, a real waist whittler.
Lie on your back with hands lightly cradling head, supporting your neck.
Lift head, shoulders and legs off the floor and, keeping your elbows wide, rotate your torso bringing your left armpit towards the inside of your right knee, as you extend the left leg in front of you, 45 degrees off the floor.
Do a total of 10 twists.
- If you feel this in your neck, place your head on the floor, and continue with your leg extensions only.
- Avoid doing this exercise with any kind of speed. The repetitions should be slow and controlled, so that we really make those waist muscles work in that twist.
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