You don't need weights to build core strength, just these seven moves

This Pilates-inspired routine works your core and develops mid-body muscle in less than 10 minutes

Woman holding a plank position
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to build ab muscle and strengthen your core, you might imagine you'd need an extended weights session at the gym or endless crunches. But with this seven-move ab workout, you can work your core without weights in less than 10 minutes.

While you can get results without breaking the bank from using one of the best ab rollers, this routine blends traditional ab exercises with Pilates, yoga, and barre to make an effective ab and core workout you can do anywhere.

The routine was developed by personal trainer and yoga instructor Rhiannon Bailey (opens in new tab), who explained that "an effective workout doesn't always have to involve a lot of sweat and lifting heavy weights." 

Instead, she puts the session's results down to "the combination of pulsing movements and repeating one action for a duration of time [which] helps to activate your slow twitch fibers until they reach exhaustion.

If you're new to this training style, you can follow along with Bailey's demonstrations to practice your technique, perfect your form, get the most from your workout, and build mid-body muscle while avoiding injury.

Watch Rhiannon Bailey's ab workout

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There are plenty of core strengthening exercises, including side planks and push-ups, with a few variations to work muscles around your torso, abs, and core. If you enjoy them, you could also add sit-ups into the mix.

People often use abs and core interchangeably, but there are some essential differences between the two. Your rectus abdominis six-pack abs muscle is just one of the many muscles that make up your core, a section of mid-body muscle. 

Your core connects your upper and lower body, helping improve your posture, balance, and stability and even benefiting your circulation. And because of its role, strengthening your core can also improve your workout performance.

So when doing some of the best abs workouts, like the exercises in Bailey's routine, you're also building core muscle. Plus, as Bailey notes, the moves are "low impact on your joints [which is] great for rehab post injury or to balance out high impact workouts."

When you want to work out with weights, consider picking up one of the best kettlebells and learn how to do kettlebell swings. These off-center weights can destabilize you, helping build core strength, while the high-intensity swings also boost your metabolism.

James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer 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.