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Printable 12-Minute Pilates Abs Workout

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This is the printable version of our 12-Minute Pilates Abs Workout Video. We recommend that you watch the video (and read its supporting text) before trying this abbreviated version.

Warm Up (Rib Slide)

 

 

10 reps

 

 

Lie on your back, spine neutral, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms extended in line with the shoulders.

 

 

Inhale to prepare. Exhale and use your abs to lift your shoulder blades away from the mat, bringing your ribcage closer to your hips, as your arms lower down to your sides. Inhale and hold, gazing towards your belly. Exhale and slowly roll back down to the start position to complete one rep.

 

 










The Hundred

 

 

Hold and Pump Arms 100 times

 

 

Lie on your back, spine neutral, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms parallel to the floor.

 

 

Keeping your abs engaged, and shoulder blades lifted, pump your arms up and down at your sides, keeping them stiff and straight. Inhale for 4 pumps and exhale for 4 pumps, keeping the rest of your body still.

 

 

Use one hand to support your head or neck, if necessary. Add challenge (and eventually progress) by lifting your legs up to a table top position, straightening them in line with the hips, or lowering your straight legs down at about a 45-degree angle. 

 

 










Single Leg Stretch

 

 

8 Reps

 

 

Lie on your back, spine neutral, knees bent in a table top position, and shoulder blades lifted away from your mat (to engage your abs).

 

 

Inhale to prepare. Exhale and bring your right knee in, extending your left leg out as you reach your right hand toward your right ankle and your left hand toward your right knee. Pulse twice. Inhale and switch to the other side, exhaling as bend the left knee towards you and straighten the right leg out, pulsing twice.

 

 

Keep your abs engaged, shoulder blades lifted, and gaze towards your belly.

 

 

Single Straight Leg Stretch

 

 

8 Reps

 

 

Lie on your back, spine neutral, knees bent in a table top position, and shoulder blades lifted away from your mat (to engage your abs).

 

 

Inhale to prepare. Exhale as you straighten both legs, bringing your right leg towards you (and reaching for that ankle) and extending your left leg down.  Pulse twice. Inhale and switch to the other side, lowering your right leg and lifting your left leg. Exhale as you reach for your left ankle and straighten the right leg out, pulsing twice.

 

 

Gently pull your leg towards you to feel a nice stretch on the back of the thigh. Bend your knees if necessary.

 

 

Double Leg Stretch

 

 

8 Reps

 

 

Lie on your back, spine neutral, knees pulled in towards your chest, hands at your ankles, and shoulder blades lifted away from your mat (to engage your abs).

 

 

Inhale as you extend your arms and legs out, at about 45-degree angles, and exhale as you sweep your arms around and bring your knees back towards your chest, reaching for your ankles.

 

 

Don't allow your back to arch up away from your mat.

 

 







Criss Cross

 

 

8 Reps

 

 

Lie on your back, spine neutral, knees bent in a table top position, shoulder blades lifted away from your mat (to engage your abs), and hands lightly supporting your head and neck.

 

 

Inhale to prepare. Exhale to bend your right knee towards you as you extend your left leg out (about a 45-degree angle), while twisting from your waist to bring your left elbow towards your right knee. Inhale to return to the start position. Exhale to switch to the opposite side to complete one rep.

 

 

Keep this movement slow and controlled. Let your head rest in your hands, and keep your elbows out to the side.

 

 









Hip Lifts

 

 

8 Reps

 

 

Lie on your left side, with your elbow directly under your shoulder, right hand on your hip, abs engaged, shoulders pulled down and back, legs stacked up, and your body in a straight line. 

 

 

Inhale to prepare. Exhale to slowly lift your hips up towards the ceiling (balancing your weight on your elbow and the side of your left foot), and inhale to slowly lower back down to complete one rep.

 

 










Side Plank with Twist

 

 

Twist 4 Times

 

 

Sit on your left hip, with your legs staggered and your left hand placed slightly wider than your shoulder. Engage your abs and lift your hips up so your body is in a straight line, with your weight balanced between the sides of your feet and your left hand.

 

 

Inhale to prepare. Exhale to twist from the waist, threading your right hand underneath your left arm, and then inhale to extend your arm back up, facing forward, to complete one rep.

 

 

Keep your hips lifted and your body in a straight line. Drop your bottom knee down to the mat to make this exercise easier. 

 

 

Before moving on, repeat the Hip Lifts and Side Plank with Twist on the opposite side.

 

 
























Modified Plank

 

 

Hold for 10-30 seconds

 

 

Place elbows directly under shoulders and balance weight between your elbows and the balls of the feet. Your body should remain in a straight line and your abs should be pulled in tight.

Don't lift or droop the hips—keep them in line with the body. Make it easier by dropping to your knees.

Breathe steadily throughout the exercise. 

 

 

Plank

 

 

Hold for 10-30 seconds

 

 

Place hands directly under shoulders and balance weight between your hands and the balls of the feet. Your body should remain in a straight line and your abs should be pulled in tight.

Don't lift or droop the hips—keep them in line with the body. Make it easier by dropping to your elbows or to your knees.

Breathe steadily throughout the exercise. 

 

 

Swan

 

 

8 Reps

 

 

Lie on your stomach with arms and legs extended, and your head and neck in line with your spine.

 

 

Inhale to prepare. Exhale to lift your arms and legs up away from the floor, as high as you can lift with control and comfort and inhale to slowly lower back down to complete 1 rep. 

 

 

Keep your shoulders relaxed and body lengthened. Make it easier by lifting just the arms or just the legs.

 

 







Upward Dog Stretch

 

 

Hold Stretch for 10-30 seconds

 

 

Place you hands underneath your shoulders, elbows bent.

Slowly straighten your arms as you lower your hips down towards the floor. Pull shoulders down and look up towards the ceiling.
 

Breathe deeply. 

 

 

Cat Stretches

 

 

Repeat Stretches 3 times

 

 

Push yourself back onto hands and knees.  Engage the abs and round the spine, looking towards your naval.
 
Reverse that movement by arching the back, dropping the belly down, and looking towards the ceiling.

 

 









Child's Pose

 

 

Hold for 10-30 seconds

 

 

Starting on hands and knees, turn your toes under and shift your body weight back, over your heels.
 

Extend arms forward, relax through your shoulders and neck, and reach through fingertips.
 

Breathe deeply. When you're finished, slowly roll your spine back up.

 

 

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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • BACKNBUSINESS
    this is great some years ago when I was on vaction I wrote down what I needed to do or did it from memory.......this is better!! - 9/27/2012 2:27:27 PM
  • ELKOWALSKI
    Really like that this is printable, it is exactly what i needed! Thanks - 2/28/2012 4:20:50 PM
  • Thank you, thank you for descriptions & printable exercises! Some of us are still stuck in a rural, dial-up world. - 11/14/2011 3:35:23 AM
  • I'm so glad you posted this! I had a Pilates video years ago and I lost it, but it has always been my favorite ab routine! Now I can all my old favorites again! And for any skeptics out there, these moves really work. I like that some of the moves work the lower abs which are harder to tone! - 6/10/2011 11:40:26 AM
  • I've worked with a Pilates Machine but this Pilates floor routine was much more strenuous. I had to do some of the easier versions as I can't bend on my left knee for long but I still got a workout. Great article. - 1/26/2011 8:43:45 AM
  • an ipod version of this would be great. I too would like to know if there is one - 8/9/2010 12:37:05 PM
  • Good exercise, but the printable doesn't come out right. -- some of the pix etc are cut off at bottom of page. To be truly printable, make it clean with out all the advertising. We see it on the website but we don't need the distraction when try to focus on reading the instructions. If I could put my computer on the floor and watch the video ir would be cool but not really manageable. - 7/28/2009 10:03:07 AM
  • LAURENSINGLETON
    Coach Nicole - you are amazing. I teach traditional fitness, but feel confident that I can use this great routine to introduce some Pilates into the ab section of my workout. Keep up the fantastic work. You are an inspiration. - 6/10/2009 4:50:24 PM
  • RMARIN3
    is there an ipod version of this? - 10/29/2008 9:30:57 AM
  • LUVZABQ
    THS IS GREAT! IAM CONSIDERING JUST STICKING WITH PILATES. - 10/8/2008 7:27:47 PM
  • Great article. - 6/12/2008 1:32:34 AM
  • LYNNEAL
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS ROUTINE. IT REALLY WORKS. I LOST 9 INCHES IN 4 MONTHS OF DOING THIS ROUTINE REGULARLY. - 1/9/2008 9:03:38 AM
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