This Pilates ‘core ladder’ works small-but-important muscles good + good

i amIf you’ve ever taken a Pilates class, you know that small, controlled movements can shake your body with effort. They work your slow-twitch (or “type one”) muscle fibers, which help support your joints as you go about your day. And in this week’s episode Good movesChloé de Winter, founder of Go Chlo Pilates, challenges these stabilizers with the Pilates “Core Ladder.”

While you can do Pilates on a reformer (a machine that adds resistance to challenge your strength, flexibility, and balance), in this video, de Winter guides you through one way. the mat Pilates workout. This means, you’ll only need a mat and a set of hand weights—de Winter opts to use wrist weights, but you can grab dumbbells, a water bottle, or whatever else is accessible to you.

To start, de Winter takes you through a ladder-style core workout that gradually builds up to a serious muscle endurance challenge. Below, you’ll find instructions for the stairs, but if you’re ready to watch the full workout (and really put those tiny muscles to the test), be sure to watch the full video.

Try De Winter’s 4-Move Pilates Core Ladder Workout

1. Lying hand raises

Grab your weights and either wrap them around your wrists or grip them tightly. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms straight toward the ceiling, palms facing away from you. Slowly lower your arms back and down, bringing the biceps to the ears, then return to the start and repeat. Keep your mid-back arch and ribs from lifting up while doing this.

2. Lying arms raised with knees to tabletop position

Keep your starting position the same as the first step, except for one little thing: lift your legs in the air and bring your shins parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees are directly over your hips and begin the same movement pattern from the last exercise: Straighten your arms back and down, bringing the biceps to the ears, then return to the start and repeat.

3. Lying arm raises with single leg extension

OK, adding. Extend your right leg forward as you lower your arm (a straight leg is a longer lever, and more load for your abdominal muscles to handle), then slowly draw it back to the tabletop as you raise your arm. Repeat on the left side, and continue alternating. As you extend one leg, try your best not to pull your opposite knee toward your face because it engages your core and you want to keep those muscles firing.

4. Lying arm raises with double leg extension

For the last step of the ladder, squeeze your legs together and extend both straight forward as you lower your arms back and down, so both arms and legs are moving away from your center at the same time. Raise your arms at the same time as you bend your knees over your hips, return to your start position and repeat. If you find that your lower back is coming off the ground, don’t lower your legs as far toward the floor as you do when you extend them.

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