5 Effective Core Strengtheners

Take just a few minutes with these Pilates exercises and you'll feel stronger in no time :)

Dead Bug: Laying on your back on a mat, legs one or both in tabletop position, arms straight above your chest. Begin by moving just an arm or leg away from your center. Remember what it looks like to see a bug on its back with its limbs moving? You want to look like that but controlled, your pelvis and your torso are super still, your lower back stays in contact with the floor. Move your arms and legs away from you only as much as you can keep control of whatever is touching the ground. No arching your back and keep your shoulders relaxed. This is a great beginner exercise.

Bridge: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet about hip distance apart, arms long by your side. Press your feet into the ground. Take a breath in and as you exhale slowly curl your pubic bone toward your navel. Your pelvis will tuck under. (Tip* You want to initiate this movement by pulling your low belly in and contracting your abdominals enough that this action starts to curl your pubic bone towards your navel). Continue to roll up evenly through your spine lifting one vertebrae at a time off the floor until you are as high as the shoulder blades. Keep your feet pressing down, and your knees hip width apart. Press into the back of your arms and stretch them away from you. Your head and shoulders stay on the floor. Inhale and exhale again as you return slowly one vertebrae at a time back down onto the mat. (Tip* Aim to keep both hips level side to side as you move).Repeat 7-8x.

Chest Lift: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet hip distance apart, *hands clasped behind your head. Aim to keep your legs and pelvis still, body weight balanced side to side. To begin take a breath in and look past the top of your knees. As you exhale lift your head, neck and chest off the floor. Feel like you are sliding the front of your ribs down under your waist band :) Inhale and hold and as you exhale slowly return back to the floor. Tips: When your are at the top of the movement check, did your pelvis stay still or tuck under? You want to keep it still and no tucking. It's not a big movement. Check: Did your knees open or drop in? Keep them still and hip distance apart. *Beginner option to keep arms long by your side. Repeat 7-8x.

Chest lift with rotation: Target your obliques here by adding a rotation. Keeping your pelvis still rotate your rib cage to the right. Come back to centre and rotate to the left. Return to centre and lower back to the floor. Repeat. Check in that as you rotate, your knees and your pelvis stay still. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Do 6-8 sets.

Single Leg Stretch: Begin in chest lift position and curl your pubic bone to navel so that your low back is on the mat. Bring one leg at a time into tabletop position. Lift your head and chest off the floor. Place both hands on either side of the right knee. Reach/extend your left leg long and away only as low as you can keep your low back and pelvis still. Pulling your abdominals in, slowly switch and bend the left knee in as you reach the right leg out. Your hands switch from bent knee to bent knee. Keep your shoulders relaxed as possible. If your neck gets sore take one hand behind your head. (Tip* Watch your pelvis, keep it super quiet as you switch your legs, your strong abs are in control).

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