5 Basic and straightforward pilates routines for sculpted abdominal muscles

Solid abs are built on strength, endurance, and good posture. Pilates targets these key elements, focusing on your core muscles. Try these 5 simple Pilates exercises to achieve fantastic abdominal results.

5 Basic and straightforward pilates routines for sculpted abdominal muscles

Nearly every Pilates movement engages your core, but if you’re aiming for flat abs, there are ways to intensify your routine. When executed properly, Pilates exercises activate the abdominals even more than crunches—some are over 200 percent more effective!

5 Basic and straightforward pilates routines for sculpted abdominal muscles

The Hundred

  • Lie flat with legs together and arms by your sides.
  • Lift legs a few inches off the mat, squeeze buttocks, and engage abs. Lift head and look towards toes.
  • Raise arms over thighs and pump them up and down while inhaling for five pumps and exhaling for five pumps.
  • Complete two to five sets, working up to 100 pumps.


  • Sit tall with a straight back, arms open at shoulder-height, and legs wider than shoulders.
  • Inhale as you rotate trunk left and round over left knee, pressing right hand against the outer edge of left foot.
  • Exhale as you “saw” right hand along outer foot in three forward motions while drawing back right hip.
  • Inhale and return to start. Repeat sequence, twisting right. Perform three sets.

Double-Leg Stretch

  • Hug both knees into chest with head lifted and elbows wide.
  • Inhale as you reach legs forward and arms backward.
  • Exhale slowly as you deepen into hug position.
  • Repeat six times.


  • Lie on back with hands behind lifted head and knees bent into chest.
  • Inhale and twist torso left until right elbow connects with left knee, straightening right leg.
  • Exhale and twist right, connecting left elbow to right knee and extending left leg.
  • Continue alternating sides, completing six sets of twists.


  • Lie flat with arms by sides and legs squeezed together.
  • Inhale as you lift legs overhead, rolling back until balanced on shoulder blades and arms.
  • Exhale as you roll back down spine, circling legs to left while inhaling.
  • Continue reversing circle direction each time, completing three sets.

These Pilates exercises can be done anywhere, even while watching TV. If you have lower-back issues, keep knees bent; if neck issues, keep head down.