You only need three bodyweight moves to strengthen your abs and hone your waist

This equipment-free routine will build strength in your mid-body muscles

Man holding a side plank outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's hard to overstate the importance of your core muscles. They help with posture, balance, and spinal stabilization and they're also used in everyday movements like walking, sitting and lifting. 

It's well worth training this mid-body area, but performing endless crunches can get a bit boring. Enter Pilates, a training practice that focuses on core strength, flexibility, and body awareness.

This time-efficient Pilates routine from Lily Sabri is designed to work your abdominal muscles and your obliques (the muscles around your waist) in just four moves. Return to it regularly and you should see some significant strength improvements in the area.

Watch Lily Sabri’s four-move Pilates core workout

The combination of moves in this routine engages multiple muscle groups, including the rectus abdominis (the six-pack abs muscle), obliques (side abs around your waist), and deep core stabilizers. 

People often use the terms abs and core interchangeably, but there are differences between abs and core training. Your abdominal muscles form just one part of your core, so if you take on an abs-focused routine, you are strengthening your core, but only a part of it.

If you want to get the full benefits of a stronger core, you’ll also need to regularly take on some comprehensive core strengthening exercises, either alongside your current workout routine or as part of a dedicated mid-body-focused session.

While this Pilates-based routine will strengthen your core muscles, you need to reduce body fat around your stomach if your goal is to get a slim waist and develop visible abs. 

You can’t spot-target fat in certain areas of the body, like the stomach, instead you'll need to reduce all-round body fat through a combination of diet and exercise. Take a look at our tips on strength training exercises for weight loss, if that's your goal, or read up on how to maintain a calorie deficit

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. 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.