Even if you’ve been skipping out on ab workouts for a while, you can probably still pull off these moves with a few modifications. “In my opinion, it is one of the best things for newbies or people who feel they are out of shape because it will help build a solid base of strength… Everything is based on what your level is and yours alone,” says Speir. Try these seven simple moves to get started today.
1. The 100
At the core of every Pilates practice is ‘The 100,’ which is designed to get your blood pumping and warm you up, Speir says. Struggling to make it to the end of this move? “Make this a “50” instead,” Speir advises. “That means inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts. Do that five times. Focus on how much your abdominals are engaging and breathe.”
2. Rolling Like a Ball
Don’t take yourself too seriously. This playful move is actually a simple way to simultaneously massage your back muscles while also working your abs, Speir says. “This exercise is great for beginners because the rounded shape of your spine helps teach you how to properly and effectively engage the core muscles, while challenging them to work hard,” Speir says.
3. Single-Leg Circles
With this simple sequence, you’ll learn how to keep your abs engaged, even when you’re moving your legs. “If you need a little bend in that knee of the circling leg, go for it!” Speir says. “It’s far better to bend that leg than to have your hip lifting up and out of place.” Another tip for first-timers: It may help to bend your non-circling leg, rather than keeping it flat on the mat — this will help you engage your core and align your hips.
4. Single-Leg Teaser
The single-leg teaser is an easy way to get your body prepared for the more advanced regular Pilates teaser — in which both legs are extended in the air. Mastering the single-leg teaser first will help you learn how to find and maintain proper form, Speir says. “Make sure your legs are tightly hugging together, even though one leg is extended. You want your knees touching the entire time,” Speir advises. “This midline connection will help the lower abdominals engage and also keep the leg from swinging or dipping around, which makes the exercise more difficult and allows the back and hips to take over.”
Who said Pilates had to be complex? You’ll work your entire mid-section with this simple move. “This is one of [my favorite] exercises for building amazing core strength,” Speir says. Having trouble lifting your head? Try rolling up a towel and placing it under your neck. “This will help you see your abdominals and make sure they are probably engaging while in a way imitating the action of having the head and neck up,” Speir says. Remember, you only want to use this modification for moves that require your head and neck to curl up, not any exercises where you’re lying flat on the ground.
These are some best pilates moves to begin with.