These Foundational Pilates Moves Will Fire Up Your Abs

If you’re new to the Pilates method, this Pilates core workout for beginners is a great way to introduce yourself to the discipline and get more comfortable firing up your abs.

This video, which is the first installment of Sweat With SELF’s new Beginner Mat Pilates video series, is all about mastering Pilates basics, especially when it comes to your core. NASM-certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor Emilie Battle and Pilates instructor Zachary Bergfelt will take you through some foundational Pilates core moves—and give you some solid tips that can help you navigate this workout and the ones that come after!

One important reminder: While Pilates moves primarily do target your core, your core includes way more than your rectus abdominis, the muscles that run vertically along the front of your abdomen that many people consider the “abs.” Your core pretty much includes all the muscles in your torso, including abdominal muscles like obliques (muscles along the side of your abs) and transverse abdominis (your deepest core muscles), as well as your hips, glutes, and lower back. So exercises that work to build strength in these areas can actually be considered “core exercises.”

In this 20-minute Pilates core workout for beginners, Battle and Bergfelt will take your through a solid warm-up to get your blood flowing before getting into the foundational Pilates moves: These include exercises like the roll-up, single-leg stretch, double-leg stretch, scissors, and criss-cross. Toward the end of the routine, you’ll get started with some plank variations too, including elbow plank, elbow plank glide, and plank knee tap.

Throughout the routine, Battle and Bergfelt offer helpful modifications so you can make sure the Pilates exercises work for you and your fitness level. They also provide some important tips that can make all these core exercises feel better, including how to make sure you’re engaging your core during the moves. So for instance, during moves where you’re on your back on the mat, you should make sure to press your lower back into the mat, which engages your pelvic floor and protects your lower back from strain.

Ready to get started with a beginner Pilates core workout? Unroll your mat and get started!

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