This low-impact Pilates HIIT workout improves flexibility in just 20 minutes

Strengthen your core and clear your mind with this short, intense Pilates session

Woman doing a Pilates workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might have heard that quick, high-intensity workouts are great for when you're short on time and burn energy long after you've finished exercising; this is true. But with this 20-minute Pilates HIIT session, you can improve your flexibility too.

It's a no-equipment routine, so all you need is one of the best yoga mats for comfort and support to get started. It's a low-impact workout and has no jumping or running, so it's easy on your joints.

But low-impact doesn't mean low-intensity. You'll train hard for 30 seconds, take a five-second rest, and then start on the next move. It's a style of exercise known as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

And don't worry if you've not tried Pilates before. Nicole McPherson, the Australian trainer behind the routine, guides you through each position with a detailed voiceover and video tutorial. 

This is helpful, as it's essential to get your form just right. By focusing on the technique, you'll make each move more effective, improving your strength and flexibility and reducing your chances of injury.

Watch Move with Nicole's 20-minute Pilates HIIT workout

It's a short, intense routine that includes workout staples like squats, crunches, and lunges. These moves work multiple muscles simultaneously, which is why they're known as compound moves.

They also train your core, a section of mid-body muscle responsible for stability, balance, circulation, and workout performance. Developing core strength with this Pilates abs workout reduces your risk of injury while exercising, too.

Many people first get into Pilates for back pain but find that it's a dynamic way to stay active and improve flexibility. This is also true of yoga, which encourages you to hold poses for extended periods instead.

Both build core strength and help you become more flexible, but they also create a connection between your mind and body. This is why many people refer to yoga, with its focus on your breathing, as a form of moving meditation.

If you like the idea of starting your day with a quick stretching routine, then you'll enjoy these three 15-minute morning yoga routines, which are designed to gently wake up your body and clear your mind.

However, early workouts aren't right for everyone, but taking a walk every morning is another low-impact way to build movement into your day, settle your mind, and make you more productive. 

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.