This 12-Minute Pilates Core Workout Proves Just How Challenging the Basics Can Be

It comes as no surprise that, while December may be "the most wonderful time of the year," the end of the year is just plain busy. As a result, the hours-long blocks that you used to reserve for a leisurely gym workout may have fallen off your schedule (le sigh). Luckily, there are plenty of workouts out that will have you feeling the burn (and providing you with a little bit of "me time") that you can complete in under 15 minutes. On the latest episode of Good MovesBrian Spencer of East River Pilates guides us through one of them with a 12-minute, Pilates core workout that you can do any time you have a gap in your schedule.

Experts In This Article

Spencer starts out the workout by focusing on small movements. These tiny pulses and lifts like the classic pelvic tilt and the forward curl that Spencer begins with, work your slow-twitch, or Type 1, muscle fibers, and are a defining part of any Pilates practice. "Slow-twitch muscle fibers are those that we use throughout the day to support our posture and joints...Smaller movements turn on the muscles that help eliminate short-term injury or long-term damage," Maeve McEwen, a trainer at P.volve, previously told Well+Good. "

By working your smaller muscle groups that don't often get the bulk of your attention when you're running, lifting, or cycling in the gym, you're improving your overall stability, preventing injury by bettering your muscular endurance. "If we're talking about core activation, one of the main components of our deep core is our diaphragm—our breathing muscles—we have to pay attention to how we're using these muscles," says Spencer. "That's why your Pilates instructors are always obsessed with your breath," he adds.

Throughout the workout, Spencer focuses on different sections of your core, helping us find balance, control, stamina, and activation with each small movement. He does this by bringing us back to the basics—but beware, the moves still serve up a serious burn. "One of the most underrated exercises in Pilates is the heel glide. We all love to bring our legs into tabletop and do all of this fun bicycling, but a lot of times it's so challenging to come back to the basics," he explains. Moves like the heel glide "prevent us from borrowing from muscles like quads, hip flexors, and low back, and really makes us target that work into our core and abdominals." This also helps us focus on maintaining good form and lengthening our muscles by allowing space to breathe into each hold, fire into your obliques, and engage the whole thoracic spine with the twists.

Ready to work your core? Click on the video above to follow along with Spencer as he walks you through a 12-minute Pilates core workout that you can do anywhere you can place a mat.

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