This Pilates routine helped me strengthen and stabilize my core muscles and it only took five minutes

No time to exercise? Try doing these five Pilates moves on your lunch break

Woman doing Pilates core workout at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pilates workouts are popular for good reason. They're a fantastic way to develop muscle without equipment and can improve your posture, balance and coordination.

Lifting weights is my main form of exercise. However, as I work from home and spend a lot of time sitting down, I've been experimenting with Pilates to boost my core strength and improve the way my body feels.

That's why I was intrigued by this five-minute Pilates workout I saw on Instagram, created by certified Pilates instructor Madeleine Abeid. I like to do short, intense core routines during my lunch breaks, so this looked ideal. I decided to give it a go.

How to do Madeleine Abeid's Pilates workout

A post shared by madeleine abeid

A photo posted by madeleineabeid on

To do the workout, complete each of the five exercises for one minute with no rest in between. Abeid says it's important to keep your lower back flat and tucked inwards for the moves; this will help you engage your core and avoid muscle strain. She also recommends exhaling during the hardest part of the exercise and inhaling while you reset.

My experience

The exercises in this routine are done from a seated position, leaning back onto the forearms with the legs extended out in front of you.

I'd never done any of the moves in this routine before, so I made sure I copied Abeid’s form precisely.

At first, I felt the exercises targeting my inner thighs more than my core. Although my core was engaged in this position, I wasn't getting that traditional Pilates "burn".

Fitness writer Alice Porter practices a Pilates routine for the core in her living room

(Image credit: Alice Porter)

The position reminded me of boat pose, which I often do in yoga classes. One way to increase the difficulty of boat pose is by holding your hands out in front of you, rather than resting the forearms on the ground, which challenges your balance.

I decided to lift my arms in the same way for these exercises and the burn kicked in straight away. Doing them for one minute at a time was a struggle, but I managed it with a short rest between each movement.

Practicing the exercises in this way required stability as well as strength, which are both aspects of my core I'm trying to improve, so it felt like an effective workout.

If you're new to workouts, you will probably find that the moves still challenge your core if your forearms are resting on the floor. I'd recommend trying them this way to start with. However, I needed to make the routine more difficult to make sure my core was completely engaged.

Need some cushioning for your home workouts? Have a look at our round-up of the best yoga mats

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.