4 easy Pilates exercises for a stronger core

Get those abs toned in no time thanks to these four quick and simple Pilates moves.

The core of the body consists of the abdominal muscles, the pelvis, lower spine and diaphragm. Its main purpose is to stabilise the body whilst moving. The muscles being worked in these exercises are not your 6-pack muscles but the ones that lie beneath!

Why work these muscles? Well it's quite simple, they support you in all activities from lifting a child to putting away shopping to running a marathon to good posture whilst sitting at a desk working. There are many exercises that will help strengthen these muscles.

Fitness instructor Lucy Thirsk from Bootcamp Pilates choses four moves that are simple to conduct safely and efficiently to help make you core stronger.

1. Leg slides into femur arcs - this exercise is pretty basic but very effective. It should be performed slowly to achieve the best results.

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet hip width apart. Place hands on you hip bones. Inhale to prepare, exhale and slowly slide foot along the floor. Inhale at full length, exhale a draw foot back to original position. The important part is to keep hips level, which sounds easier than it is. Repeat on other leg. Progressing to Femur Arcs: Inhale to prepare, exhale and raise one foot to tabletop (calf parallel to the floor), inhale and exhale to raise second leg to tabletop. Inhale at the top, exhale a slowly lower one leg at a time back to the start position. Repeat both exercises 20 times.

2. Single leg stretch

Same start position as exercise 1. Raise legs into Femur Arcs (as above, legs into tabletop position). Inhale to prepare, exhale and raise head a shoulders off the floor. On the next exhale straighten one leg to 45 degree position whilst you draw the other knee towards the chest. Inhale a bring both legs back to tabletop, exhale a repeat on other leg. Do 20 repetitions. Regression is to keep both legs bent and instead dip one foot towards the floor.

3. Roll up

Lie supine on the floor. Legs out straight, arms above your head. Inhale and raise hands up to the ceiling and flex the feet, exhale and begin peeling the spine off the floor one vertebra at a time up to a seated position. Inhale and sit up tall lengthening through the spine, exhale and c-curve the spine and roll back down onto the floor one vertebra at a time back to the start position. Repeat 10 times. Make sure you do not use momentum or let your feet come off the floor.

4. Leg pull prone

Place your hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Inhale to prepare, exhale and lengthen one leg out, on the next exhale lengthen the second leg out into a plank position. Hold the position for a few breaths. When ready, exhale and raise one foot off the floor, lengthening through the leg, pointing the toe and circle, 5 circles one direction, 5 circles in the other. Exhale and lower foot. Repeat on other leg.

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