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Easy Pilates Moves for a Quick Core Workout

Easy Pilates Moves for a Quick Core Workout

Pilates doesn't require complex moves or expensive equipment. Most of the time, effective workouts are simple but provide quick and impactful results. However, creating a routine list can be confusing, especially with many Pilates workouts today.

This article will give you a list of easy but effective Pilates moves. You will also learn about Pilates types and some cool-down tips. Whether you're a dedicated Pilates enthusiast or a newcomer aiming to enhance core strength, we've got you covered! 


Types of Pilates

There are several types of Pilates. However, the most common ones are the Reformer and Mat.

Reformer Pilates

Reformer Pilates presents unique advantages, including increased resistance and muscle-building benefits. This Pilates type allows the body to challenge itself further than what the Mat type can offer. The machine's design promotes balance and stability, offering a dynamic workout experience.


  • Ideal for those seeking a more dynamic and challenging workout
  • Suitable for individuals with a moderate fitness level or those progressing from mat Pilates


  • Financial Investment: Reformer classes can be relatively expensive
  • Space Requirements: Home reformers take up more floor space

Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates has the same principle as Reformer Pilates. But different in a way, as the Mat type uses body weight for resistance. The Mat-type Pilates also offers accessibility without the need for expensive equipment.


  • Perfect for those new to Pilates or exercise in general
  • It can be done by individuals at various fitness levels


  • Equipment Needs: Requires a high-quality mat but minimal additional accessories


Easy Pilates Moves for Core Workout

Now that you know the Pilates type, it’s time to learn some quick and easy core exercises. Here are 10 Pilates moves you should try:

1. Half Roll Back

The Half Roll Back offers a soothing massage to your back muscles and promotes relaxation. This exercise actively engages and strengthens your abdominal muscles for a comprehensive core workout.

Proper starting position:

  • Sit on the mat with knees bent, feet flat, and arms extended forward
  • Engage the core, ensuring a straight spine

Controlled torso movement and pelvic-floor muscle engagement:

  • Inhale, initiating the movement from the pelvis
  • Exhale, rolling halfway back with controlled torso movements
  • Engage the pelvic floor muscles, maintaining stability
  • Inhale as you lower the upper body back down
  • Maintain controlled movements for an effective workout

2. Tabletop Hold

In Tabletop Hold, your core muscles are intensively activated, which can help boost strength. The incorporation of arm movements adds a balance challenge, enhancing overall stability.

Proper starting position:

  • Lay on the mat and lift your legs
  • Ensure your knees are bent 90 degrees and lined up with your hips

Activating core muscles in a tabletop position:

  • Ensure a flat back and engage the core
  • Hold the tabletop position, keeping the neck and shoulders relaxed
  • Focus on the lower abdominal muscles to maintain the hold

Incorporating arm movement for an added challenge:

  • Extend arms overhead while maintaining the tabletop position
  • Control the movement, ensuring the lower back remains connected to the mat

3. Heel Tap

This targets the lower abdominal muscles, contributing to a stronger core and promoting pelvic stability by engaging the core during the movement. 

Proper starting position:

  • Lay your back flat on the mat
  • Extend your legs straight or slightly bent with heels hovering above the mat

Engaging the core while tapping heels:

  • Inhale, preparing for the movement
  • Exhale, engaging the core, and tap one heel to the mat
  • Alternate heel taps while maintaining a stable core

Alternating heel taps with controlled movements:

  • Keep the lower back connected to the mat throughout the exercise
  • Focus on controlled movements to work the core muscles effectively

4. Diamond

The Diamond exercise engages the inner thighs, promoting overall leg strength.

Proper starting position:

  • Lay your back flat on the mat and start on a tabletop position
  • Form a diamond shape with the legs by bringing the soles of the feet together

Targeting core muscles with knees and feet together:

  • Open and close the knees in a controlled manner
  • Focus on engaging the core while maintaining the diamond shape

Controlled opening and closing of knees:

  • Ensure controlled movements, emphasizing the engagement of the inner thighs
  • This exercise effectively targets the core, especially the lower abdominal muscles

5. Crunch

The Crunch focuses on the upper abdominal muscles, defining the core. This exercise prioritizes proper form, ensuring safety throughout the exercise.

Proper starting position:

  • Still laying on the mat from the Tabletop Hold to the Crunch position
  • Place hands behind the head, elbows wide, and lift the upper body

Focus on core contraction without straining the neck:

  • Breathe as you prepare for the movement
  • Exhale, contracting the core to lift the upper body
  • Avoid straining the neck; focus on the abdominal muscles

Gradual return to the starting position:

  • Inhale as you lower the upper body back down
  • Maintain controlled movements to maximize effectiveness

6. Leg Circles

Leg Circles specifically target your lower abs, aiding in toning and strengthening your core.

Proper starting position:

  • Lie on your back, legs extended, and arms by your sides
  • Inhale as you lift one leg toward the ceiling

Supine position with controlled circular leg movements:

  • Exhale and perform controlled circles with the lifted leg
  • Focus on engaging the lower abdominal muscles
  • Inhale and switch directions, maintaining a stable core

Focusing on core engagement throughout the exercise:

  • The key is to keep the core engaged throughout the leg circles
  • This exercise targets the lower abdominal muscles effectively

7. Straight-Leg Bicycles

Engaging your obliques, Straight-Leg Bicycles work on both the upper and lower cores. The coordinated movements of the legs and torso target oblique activation that improves body flexibility.

Proper starting position:

  • The transition from single-leg lowers
  • Flow into Straight-Leg Bicycles from the Single Leg Lowers position
  • Keep hands behind the head for support

Engaging upper, lower core, and obliques:

  • Inhale to prepare and exhale as you float your legs to the sky
  • Perform a bicycle motion with straight legs, engaging the entire core
  • Coordinate the movement with controlled rotations

Coordinated leg and torso movements:

  • Focus on the engagement of both the upper and lower core
  • Maintain a steady pace, ensuring the obliques are actively involved

8. Oblique Double Knee Tucks

Oblique Double Knee Tucks provide a focused workout that enhances overall core stability by effectively targeting and strengthening the oblique muscles.

Proper starting position:

  • Start in a high plank position with straight arms
  • Twist heels to one side, imagining gluing inner thighs together

Targeting obliques and deep core muscles:

  • Inhale to prepare, bend the legs, and send the bottom back toward the heels
  • Exhale to return to plank position, shoulders over wrists
  • Repeat the movement, emphasizing oblique engagement

Controlled knee tucks with emphasis on form:

  • Focus on maintaining a strong plank position throughout the exercise
  • Emphasize form over speed

9. Oblique Pikes

With a strong emphasis on oblique muscles, Oblique Pikes promotes targeted core strength and enhances upper body strength.

Proper starting position:

  • Begin in a high plank position with heels together, tilted to one side
  • Inhale to prepare, exhale, and lift the tailbone towards the ceiling

Focusing on obliques and shoulder stability:

  • Engage the obliques as you push the hips upward
  • Inhale and return to plank position, maintaining shoulder stability
  • Repeat the pike movement, feeling the burn in the obliques

Controlled pike movements with heel tilts:

  • Tilt the heels to the opposite side for an added challenge
  • Perform controlled pike movements, ensuring a continuous engagement of the obliques

10. Kneeling Side Bends

This workout isolates and targets the oblique muscles, enhancing lateral core strength and intensifying the exercise.

Proper starting position:

  • Kneel with the left knee under the hip and the right leg extended to the side
  • Tuck the tailbone slightly to engage the glutes

Kneeling position with a leg extended for stability:

  • Draw fingertips to temples, inhale, and exhale as you bend towards the left elbow
  • Feel the recruitment of the right oblique
  • Inhale, return to the starting position, and repeat on the other side

Incorporating variations for intensity:

  • Add pulses, reaches, and holds to intensify the burn.
  • Focus on balance and stability while working on the obliques and deep abs.


Pilates Workout Cool Down

A proper cool down is vital to gradually bring the heart rate down, prevent muscle soreness, and enhance flexibility. It allows the body to transition from the intensity of the workout to a state of relaxation. 

Here are some of the best cool-down positions after doing several Pilates moves.

1. Child's Pose

  • Kneel on the mat, sit back on your heels, and reach your arms forward
  • Relax in this stretch, feeling a gentle release in the lower back and shoulders

2. Cat-Cow Stretch

  • Transition to a tabletop position, moving between arching and rounding the back
  • This dynamic stretch promotes spinal flexibility and relieves tension

3. Spinal Twist

  • Lie on your back, bring one knee towards the chest, and guide it across the body
  • Hold the stretch, feeling a gentle twist in the spine and stretching the hip


Start Your Pilates Today and Unlock Core Strength!

Adding these Pilates moves to your daily routine can give your core a complete workout. Each move contributes to overall core strength, flexibility, and stability. Start with the easiest, like crunch, tabletop hold, or wall pilates, then gradually challenge yourself using Reformer machines.

A Reformer can improve your core routine by adding pressure and giving you more exercise. So, to add variety and intensity to your Pilates workouts, check out our best Reformer machines and take your fitness journey to the next level!

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