Active people sometimes fall into a pattern of one or two physical exercise routines that they feel work for them. Whether you practice yoga daily, are a once-a-week runner, or are a cross-country skier, introducing Pilates into your workout schedule can have major positive effects on your body and your mind. If you’re new to Pilates, try this comprehensive core-strengthening series of exercises designed to activate central muscles in the abdominal region.

The following is a series of five exercises that work the entirety of the abdominal wall, including the transverse abdominis and obliques. These exercises are meant to be done one after another, building intense stamina in the core. This series can be included at any point during your exercise routine.

Single-Leg Stretch

Curl head, neck and shoulders off the mat, pull one knee into your chest extend the opposite leg.

Switch to the other side and repeat 20 times.

Double Leg Stretch

Curl head, neck, and shoulders off the mat. Hold onto your shins and pull legs into chest.

Extend the arms and legs fully, and repeat 10 times, inhaling as the body reaches long, and exhaling as the body curls into a ball.
Scissors

Curl head, neck, and shoulders off mat and extend both legs straight in a V shape. Hold the back of the front leg with both hands.

Pull the leg in closer toward the face, keeping the opposite leg lifted and engaged.
 Switch to the other side and repeat 20 times on both sides.
Lower and Lift

Bring the hands behind the head. Extend the legs, and curl head, neck, and shoulders off the mat.

Engage the abdominals as you lower the legs.The legs can reach away as long as you can maintain the abdominal connection, taking care not to strain the low back. Breathe carefully as you extend, and then lift the legs back to a 90-degree angle. Repeat 10 times.
Crisscross

Start with your legs in table top. Curl the head, neck, and shoulders off the mat.

Bend one knee. Twist toward bent knee and extend the opposite leg.

Switch sides. Keep the elbows wide, and make sure you are twisting from the waist. Repeat 20 times to both sides.

Photos by Hailey Wist

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