Pilates is one of the only routines completely centered around core strength. If you are looking to tone and tighten your tummy, while achieving that long, lean appearance, than these 7 moves are a perfect place to start! Don't let the simplicity of these exercises fool you, though: they will have you sweating in no time. Just grab a mat and get started!
The Hundred: This classic move is easily the most popular Pilates abs exercise out there. To begin, lie flat on your mat with your legs and arms together. Slowly lift both legs off the mat and scoop your abs in as you lift your shoulders. Stretch your arms forward, and try to imagine that you are trying to touch your elevated toes. Begin to pump your arms, breathing in and out for every 5 pumps. Work your way up to 10 sets of 10 pumps for a total of 100 reps! (via Women's Health Magazine)
Pilates sit up: This variation on a typical sit up engages all of your core muscles! As you rise, make sure you are not relying on momentum from your shoulders to get you off the ground! The slower you go, the more you will feel the burn. Click here to see how it's done!
Side bend: This Pilates favorite really targets your obliques! Begin by sitting sideways on your mat, with your legs bent to one side. Your feet should be stacked, one on top of the other. Place your supporting hand on the ground directly beneath your shoulder. Press into your hand and raise into an arch, pressing your hips towards the ceiling. Balance your weight between your hand and your feet as you draw your hips and waist upwards. Carefully lower towards the floor, by bending your knees, until your bottom thigh touches your mat, then lift back up into an arch. Repeat 8 to 10 times. (via Pilates Anytime)
Double leg lowers: Prepare to sweat with this exercise! It will only take a couple reps before your lower abs start to feel the burn. Start out by laying on your back with your palms tucked under the base of your spine. Engage your core muscles as you lift your head and bring your legs straight into the air. Lower your legs toward the floor for 3 counts, and then slowly raise them back up to the ceiling for 3 counts. Complete 8 to 10 reps! (via Fitness Magazine)
Corkscrew: This intermediate Pilates move can be tricky, so make sure you concentrate on keeping your spine pressed firmly into your mat for the best results! Start out on your back, with your arms by your sides and your legs straight up in the air. Suck your core in until you feel your lower spine press into the floor. As you inhale, slowly loop your legs to the left and down, and as you exhale bring your legs around to the right and back to the starting position. On your next inhalation repeat the same motion, but in the opposite direction. Complete 10 reps (5 on each side), making sure that your hips and back remain on the mat the whole time! (via iSport: Pilates)
One-leg teaser: Pilates teasers work the deep abdominal muscles, so get ready to turn up the heat! Start out on your back with one leg bent, and your foot on the floor. Raise your other leg and extend it straight out so that your knees are together. As you inhale, lift your arms toward the ceiling, and as you exhale, curl forward from your core as you reach for your toes. Inhale again as you reach back towards the ceiling, and then exhale as you carefully return to the starting position. Repeat 8-10 times on each side. (via Strong-Fit-Beautiful)
Single straight leg stretch: This is a great move to end on, since you get the benefits of stretching and a good core exercise rolled into one! Begin on your back with one leg straight in the air, and the other straight out, extended from your hip. Raise your head and grasp behind the calf of the leg that is pointed towards the ceiling. As you pull that leg towards you, pump the bottom leg and take two quick inhales. Exhale as you switch legs, and repeat on the opposite side! Complete 5-10 reps on each side. (via Human Kinetics)