This seven-minute Pilates routine will help you target your deep core muscles

Strengthen your abs and core with this short mat-based session

Woman doing Pilates boat pose on a yoga mat.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You don't need a lot of time or equipment to strengthen your core muscles. In fact, bodyweight workouts are one of the best ways to target the area. 

If you're looking for a super-short routine that will build your midbody, try this Pilates session from trainer Stef Williams, founder of the WeGLOW workout app.

It's a mat-based session targeting muscles like the transverse abdominis, which lie deep within the core and wrap around your abdomen. You can follow along in real time by watching the video below. 

Watch Stef Williams' 7 minutes Pilates core workout

All of the exercises in this workout are done from a seated or lying position. When lying down, try to keep your lower back flush with the mat, squeezing your abdominal muscles and your glutes to activate the core. 

If you're worried that you're using your back muscles when lying down, rather than your core, Williams suggests placing your hands on your hips to check that there's not too much rocking movement. 

During the seated crunch-like movements, Williams advises that you keep your shoulder blades off the floor. Try not to crane your neck, keeping your gaze forwards and down rather than upwards.

This is a workout that you can do on its own, or you can tag it onto the end of a strength session, like this beginner's bodyweight workout.

Why you should do Pilates

Unlike full-body dumbbell workouts and intense HIIT sessions, Pilates usually shuns compound exercises and focuses on small, precise movements targeting muscles that are often overlooked. 

The practice can be done with nothing but a yoga mat and there are plenty of free online routines that you can follow. It's also a low-impact exercise, which means that it's easy on the joints, but it will still challenge and strengthen your muscles.

In addition to helping you get stronger, the practice can improve your balance and flexibility. It also encourages deep breathing during each movement, which helps with relaxation. 

Need a new mat for your practice? See our top recommendations in 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.