If you want strong, sculpted abs, Pilates can help you get there. A good round Pilates program (like XB Pilates) will do your job though Complete Body, your core will get some serious attention.
So we turn to Andrea Rogers, XB Pilates instructor and creator of Xtend Barre to get her favorite Pilates moves for Abs.
Below are nine Pilates ab exercises that Andrea likes, which you will find in many Pilates workouts, including XB Pilates.
Get step-by-step instructions on how to perform them, so that you can really get the most out of each step. Try a few (or all) of them, and your abs will burn!
“Xtend Barre is founded on Pilates and dance principles, with proper alignment and our core focus creates a connection to your core,” says Andrea. “Our Pilates-based ab series will sculpt all points of the abdominal wall, helping you gain strength and tone in your core.”
If you are ready to try a complete Pilates workout, try XB Pilates.
You can choose from a 21-day, 30-day or 60-day calendar, depending on your goals and fitness level.
1. Single-leg circle
- Lie on your back with your legs straight in front of you and your arms outstretched to your side, flattening the palate on the floor. Engage your core to press your lower back to the floor. You will maintain this back positioning throughout the entire exercise.
- Straighten one foot by pointing your toes towards the ceiling.
- From here, move your raised plank in a large, controlled, clockwise circle, as if you were tracing the circles in the air with your feet. Reverse the circles by moving clockwise for the same number of repetitions. Keep your core engaged so that your back is attached to the floor.
- Lower your legs to the floor and repeat with the opposite leg.
2. Pilates Hundred
- Start lying supin (on your back) on the mat. The legs should be in a tabletop position, which means your thighs are vertical here, your knees are bent and your shins are horizontal.
- Lift your lower abdomen and shoulders, bend your spine, and lift your head off the mat. Keep the bottom of your back in contact with the floor – do not arch your back. If you can, extend your legs completely so that your feet point 45 degrees toward the ceiling.
- Inhale, pump your hands as you lift them off the mat, making sure your fingers, hands and arms are straight. Take one, two, three, four, five breaths with the first five arm pumps and then one, two, three, four, five breaths with five more arm pumps. After you complete ten, you can immediately go to the next round.
- Repeat ten times to reach that magic number: 100.
- In the tenth set, inhale, extend your curls and bring your arms to your buttocks. Keep. Then exhale and release yourself to lower yourself to your starting position. In other words, don’t flop down.
3. Single-leg stretch
- Lie on your back and bring both knees close to your chest. Engage your abs to lift your head, neck and shoulders off the mat, while pressing the lower part of your back to the floor. Wrap your hands lightly around your shins.
- Inhale and straighten your right leg so that it is just a few inches above the floor. Keep the bottom of your back pressed to the floor. If it comes up, don’t lower your legs as far down. Your hand can be lightly touching your left shin.
- Exhale and change legs, bend your right leg to the bald position and extend your left leg straight so that it is just a few inches above the floor. Your hand can be lightly touching your right shin.
- Continue phasing until all reps are complete.
4. Double-leg stretch
- Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Engage your abs to lift your head, neck and shoulders off the mat, while pressing the lower part of your back to the floor. Wrap your arms lightly around your ankles.
- Inhale and reach the overhead of both your hands at the same time you stretch both legs straight, just a few inches above the floor. Keep the bottom of your back pressed to the floor. If it comes up, don’t lower your legs as far down.
- Exhale, and bend your arms back as your knees return to your chest.
- Repeat until all repetitions are complete.
5. Single straight leg kick (scissor kick)
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your sides.
- Engage your core and press your head, shoulders and bottom to the floor as you lift both feet about 12 inches above it.
- Keep both legs straight while you periodically lift each leg towards the ceiling.
- Complete an equal number of repetitions on each leg.
6. Lower lift (double leg lift)
- Lie on your back and keep your toes and heels together and extend to the ceiling. Place your hands behind your head and keep your elbows wide. Engage your abs to press down on your back on the floor. Lift your chest up to bring your shoulders off the floor.
- Inhale and lower your legs with control. Just lower your legs as far as you can without letting your lower back get off the floor or your stomach pop up.
- Once you reach the end of your range of motion, exhale and return your legs to the starting position with control. Repeat for all representatives of the set.
- Throughout the movement, keep your elbows wide and press your lower back against the floor. Avoid craning your neck; Your upper body curls should come from your abs rather than tilting the head forward.
7. Chris Cross
- Lie on your back with your knees bent 90 degrees (shin parallel to the ground). Gently point the tips of your fingers to the back of your head with your elbows. Engage your core, keep your lower back pressed to the floor, and lift your shoulder blades off the floor.
- Exhale as you bend your upper body to the right, extend your left leg straight and bring your left elbow to your right knee.
- Return to the center as soon as you breathe.
- Exhale again, twisting your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow to your left knee as your right leg stretches.
- Continue phasing until all reps are complete.
- Lie on your back with your core engaged and press down to the ground. Bend your legs so that your feet are flat on the ground, within hip-distance.
- Lift one leg up and extend it at a 45-degree angle. Reach your arm directly up to the ceiling.
- Inhale as your torso lifts up, your arms reaching towards your toes, creating a “V” shape with your body.
- 5 Hold this position for breathing, then slowly return as you exhale.
- Repeat all on one side and then the legs, repeat evenly on both sides.
9. Tick tock
- Lie on your back and flatten yourself on your arms, elbows under your shoulders, on the ground.
- Extend your legs 45 degrees straight. Keeping your core engaged, slowly bend over your right buttocks, lowering your legs slightly to the right. Keep your shoulders square facing forward.
- Return to the center and then repeat on the left.
- Perform equal reps on both sides, alternately continuing the sides.