This Pilates Challenge Will Give You a Stronger Core in Only 10 Days

Photo: Getty Images/Elizabeth Fernandez
Here's the thing about Pilates: Whether you realize it or not, every move you make is working to strengthen your core. Even when you think you're only working your arms/legs/glutes, you're still engaging your abs, which could explain the second-day soreness in your midsection that pops up after a particularly intense Pilates session. And since a strong core is tantamount to your posture, mobility, and overall movement, we put together the ultimate Pilates challenge that will allow you to work it to its max capacity... sometimes, without even knowing you're doing it.

Over the course of this 10-day Pilates challenge, you'll have the chance to hit all the muscles that make up your core. You'll target your upper and lower abs, obliques, and even your back, and by the time it's over, you'll notice a real difference in your overall core strength. Keep scrolling for exactly what you'll need to do for the next week and a half, and check back in a month for an entirely new challenge to choose from.

1. 10-minute abs workout

This 10-minute series will take you through Pilates-ified versions of moves like planks, crunches, and leg lifts to hit every inch of your abdominal muscles.

2. 10-Minute core series with a towel

Today's unexpected piece of equipment? A towel. This will help add tension to your moves, upping the resistance on the muscles you're targeting.

3. Pilates total core ring workout

The Pilates ring is great for upping the resistance in your usual Pilates moves. “Let’s be honest: It’s one of our most loved and hated props because it’s so intense,” says Pilates instructor and founder of East River Pilates Kimmy Kellum. “But it’s super effective.” In this workout, you'll use the ring to target your glutes and obliques. And though it's challenging, it will be over in 12 minutes flat.

4. 15-Minute Pilates core workout

Burn out your core in only 15 minutes with moves like toe taps, oblique curls, and leg extensions. Though it's low impact, you will be sweaty by the time it's over.

5. 12-Minute deep core workout to relieve mid-back tension

Today's workout targets your "deep core" muscles, aka the ones located closest to your back. The result is some much-needed tension relief, which will come in handy the next time you're slumped over your laptop for hours on end.

6. Gentle core workout, no planking

Give your shoulders a rest with this plank-free workout, which will still give you plenty of core work. Focus on engaging your abdominals and making slow and controlled movements to really ensure you're hitting the proper muscles with every move.

7. 15-minute lower abs Pilates workout

Your lower abs are notoriously hard to hit, so today, we're dedicating an entire workout to them. To ensure proper form, think about pulling your belly button toward your spine and keeping your low back planted on the floor, which will help keep the work coming from your core.

8. Pilates core and glutes workout

"This is an obliques and outer thighs workout, or, in other words: abs and ass," says Kellum. In it, you'll use a stability ball (or, if you don't have one, a rolled-up towel or blanket), which helps to increase the range of motion of your moves. In the course of only nine minutes, you'll get some serious burn in your obliques, butt, outer thighs, and your abdominal muscles.

9. Pilates for posture

Though you may think of your posture as a "shoulders only" problem, your core plays a pretty major role—which is where this 16-minute series comes in. "We are going to feel how we can strengthen those muscles to alleviate shoulder tension, neck tension, and low-back discomfort so we can be blessed and not stressed as we go through life," says trainer Brian Spencer of East River Pilates. When you start to feel the shakes, you'll know you're doing it right.

10. Advanced Pilates core workout

By day 10, you'll be ready for some advanced-level Pilates moves by way of what trainer Chloe de Winter calls, "the ultimate core workout." You'll move through leg lifts, leg lowers, oblique crunches, straight-leg sit-ups, and of course, a few trusty planks. Then, pat yourself on the back (or, more appropriately, on the abs) because you've made it to the end of the challenge.

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