Build core strength and full-body muscle in just 30 minutes without weights—here's how

This short Pilates-inspired routine improves your balance, strengthens your muscles, and boosts your metabolism

Woman performing a side plank
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to build strength all over and boost your mobility, you might think you'd need to spend hours at the gym. Fortunately, that's not always the case, as this short Pilates-inspired workout can engage muscles across your body without weights. 

Much like the benefits of yoga, the practice of Pilates works to better your balance and flexibility and, of course, strengthen your muscles. It uses repetitive, low-impact movements to engage your muscles in a controlled manner.

If you're looking for a way to give Pilates a go and want to work your whole body, certified CrossFit coach Anna Engelschall's 30-minute routine blends Pilates with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for a muscle-building, fat-burning session you can do from anywhere. 

"Our focus is strengthening and toning our muscles (especially core, abs, and booty), sweating a lot, and burning lots of calories," Engelschall says. All you need to get started is a yoga mat for underfoot support and a bit of comfort for floor-based exercises.  

Watch Anna Engelschall's 30-minute full-body workout

You'll do several Pilates-inspired moves for 30-40 seconds each, with a 10-second rest between exercises. As you progress through the session, the sets get shorter, and you gradually decrease the rest time between activities to raise your heart rate. 

Although that's how the session is programmed, it's also essential to look after yourself—the workout should still be enjoyable (so you want to do it again). If you need additional breaks, take those before returning to the routine. 

Despite the time constraints of each exercise, this session is a bit different from a typical HIIT workout. In this Pilates-inspired routine, you'll notice that the moves are much slower and more controlled than expected.

Pilates focuses on deliberate movement patterns with balance, flexibility, and posture at the heart of the practice. This also helps develop your core muscle—a collection of muscles around your stomach that connect your upper and lower body. 

Core strengthening exercises like these can enhance your balance and stability, improve your posture, and even boost your circulation. If you enjoyed the Pilates moves in this routine but would prefer a change of pace, our guide to Pilates for beginners is a great place to start. 

Becks Shepherd

Becks is a freelance journalist and writer with more than 7 years of experience in the field. She writes health and lifestyle content for a range of titles including Live Science, Top Ten Reviews, Tom’s Guide, Stylist, The Independent, and more. She also ghostwrites for a number of Physiotherapists and Osteopaths. 

Health has been a big part of Becks’ lifestyle since time began. When she’s not writing about the topic of health, she’s in the gym learning new compound exercises. And when she’s not in the gym, she’s most probably reading.