A 10-Minute Pilates Workout That Targets Your Legs & Deep Core
One of the most wonderful things about Pilates is that you can do it just about anywhere. Sure, there are some parts of the fitness practice that require, say, a reformer or bands—but there are also a number of Pilates exercises you can complete at home, with no equipment and similar benefits.
I've put together some of my favorite Pilates movements that I teach to students in my obé fitness classes. Each exercise is fantastic for building muscle tone and stability—especially in your core—and it works wonders when you put them all together. Try this Pilates workout at home to engage your entire body and get stronger through and through.
Directions: Move from one exercise to the next, without rest.
Hundreds (with legs in tabletop)
How to: Start lying on your back. Bend your knees into chest, and give yourself a hug. Curl your torso up to the tips of your shoulder blades, bringing your forehead toward your knees. Send legs into tabletop position (knees tracking over hip points, shins parallel to the floor). Extend strong straight arms down by your side, palms facing the mat. Start vigorously pumping your arms while you inhale for 5 counts, and exhale for 5 counts. That's one breath. Complete 10 deep breaths altogether to make the "hundred."
How to: Start lying on your back. Zip your legs together so they feel like one giant leg and flex through all 10 toes. Lift two strong straight arms up to the ceiling. Take a giant inhale, peel the head through your arms, and roll up to sit. Exhale and reach forward staying low to your legs, taking care not to collapse over the ribs. Take another inhale as you start rounding your body back to the floor. Exhale and articulate the spine, one bone at a time, into the mat. Keep your legs zipped together and heels reaching forward the entire time. Keep your core engaged the entire time to help pull you up. That's one rep. Complete 5 to 8 reps.
Scissor kicks with flexed feet
How to: Start lying on your back. Bend your knees into your chest and curl your torso up to the tips of your shoulder blades. Extend two strong, straight legs up toward the ceiling, and flex through all 10 toes. Grab behind the right leg with both hands, and walk the hands up toward the ankle, only going up as high as you can keep your legs straight. Double-check that your hips are square and elbows are wide. Pulse the leg toward you two times. Scissor switch and do the same on the left. That's one rep. Complete 8 to 10 reps.
Teaser (rolling up with legs bent and then extended at the top)
How to: Start by lying on your back, and bend both knees into your chest. Tuck your hands into your knee creases and rock yourself up to sit. Keep your legs zipped together as you arrive in a tabletop position, shins parallel to the floor. Extend your legs out on a high diagonal position so your body forms a V-shape. Hold for three counts. Use your hands to grab your thighs, bend your knees and roll back down into the mat. That's one rep. Complete 3 reps.
Extra challenge: Spice it up by doing it with no hands.
Quadruped leg lifts
How to: Start by kneeling in a quadruped position (all fours) with knees under hips and shoulders over wrists. Make sure your abs are pulling in and up. Extend your right leg straight back behind you. Lift the leg as high as you can, keeping your hips square. Lower that leg down tapping the floor lightly and then lift it back up. That's one rep. Complete 8 to 10 reps on each side.
Extra challenge: Spice it up with tiny pulses at the top after completing all your reps.
How to: Start lying on your stomach. Extend strong straight arms in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Lift your right arm while lifting your left leg. Lower down and repeat on the opposite side. Complete 2 times on each side. Maintain straight arms and legs the entire time.
Then, flutter both your arms and legs for 10 to 20 counts.
Marcia Meade is a Pilates instructor for obé fitness. Her certifications include: Power Pilates Core 1/2 Apparatus, American Ballet Theatre Nat’l Training Curriculum. Born and raised in New Jersey, she is a classically trained ballet and contemporary dancer whose passion for movement inspired her to study smart, effective training methods. After traveling throughout Europe as a private trainer, Marcia brought her skills and magnetic self back to NYC.