Build abs with this 20-minute low impact Pilates workout

Pilates is excellent for stretching and strengthening your body and particularly great for working out your core

Woman completes a Pilates workout in her living room
(Image credit: Getty)

Pilates can be a lot more challenging than it looks for anyone who has never tried this form of exercise. Unlike workouts that are performed at a higher intensity like HIIT or Tabata circuits, Pilates focuses less on completing as many reps of an exercise as possible and instead works on mastering control and technique. This is a great low-impact alternative to strengthening key muscle groups, especially your core.

Some of the best workouts for abs include typical moves like crunches and sit-ups. Although, yes, they are great for building and toning the abdominal muscles, it's a good idea to switch up your workouts now and again. Research published by the American College of Sports Medicine found that repetitive engagement in the same kind of exercise can hinder progressive overload and could reverse your progress. 

Pilates offers an effective workout for your core and is a versatile way to get your body moving and heart pumping. This twenty-minute session comes from yoga and Pilates instructor Nicole McPherson and combines Pilates, cardio, and abs to increase muscle strength in a low-impact way. You won't need any equipment to complete this workout but placing a blanket or one of the best yoga mats underneath you will help to reduce the load on your joints.

Nicole will lead you through ten different exercises, demonstrating each move and providing audio cues and tips as you go. You will perform each move for 45 seconds followed by 15-second breaks in between and then repeat the routine for a second round.

Watch Move With Nicole's Pilates Workout

Pilates has a very strong relationship to the core muscles because every movement within this form of workout stems from there, the center of your body. Your core houses the lower back, obliques, and rectus abdominis. Pilates is a great place to start for anyone looking to build and tone these muscles. 

But the core also forms layers of deep muscles which assist in supporting your spine, hips, butt, lower back, stomach, and pelvis. It plays a crucial role in providing stability, balance, and control for your body as you carry out daily tasks such as standing up from the sofa, or when you're completing other forms of exercise such as weightlifting with some of the best adjustable dumbbells.

Regular practice of Pilates is a great joint-friendly way to develop core strength in your abdominal muscles and across the whole body. It won't build a six-pack but no individual form of exercise can do this alone. 

You will need a training regime that involves both strength and cardio-based exercise. Nicole combines both in her Pilates and cardio crafted workout above but adding in some weights can help boost your results.

Learning how to deadlift properly is a great move for engaging the core and you can progressively overload the weight as your strength develops. You will also want to pair your exercise with a well-balanced and healthy diet. For example, eating more lean protein can help with this such as beans, legumes, chicken, or tofu. Also adding in one of the best protein powders for weight loss is a helpful way to increase your protein intake.

Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 


When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.