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9 Pilates exercises for your abs to do at home

Pilates exercises are perfect for your abs and they don’t always require equipment. Personal trainer Kelly Du Buisson, creator of the new Healthista FIT HIIT app brings you nine exercises to sculpt your body and get that core fired up

Pilates is my absolute favourite way to tone my muscles as it creates strength from within as well as out. The principle features of a Pilates workout force the mind and body to connect whilst creating links between the shoulders, trunk and hips.

All too often these little connections are left out of a training plan which leaves the body open to imbalances and over use injuries.

This makes it a great addition to any training plan, whether its weight loss or sports specific and Pilates continues to grow in popularity, especially with celebrities.

However, I still find there are a few misconceptions out there about Pilates – that it’s all a bit sedate and stretchy and doesn’t make any difference to the body. That is so wrong! It’s one of the most effective body sculpting methods out there.

So I have put together a few of my favourite moves using the Pilates method  to show you how to really tighten, tone and create that lovely workout burn in those muscles.

there are still a few misconceptions that Pilates is all a bit sedate and stretchy

9 Pilates exercises to do at home – the workout

To begin a Pilates workout it is important to create a link between the mind and the body.

Take some deep breaths in through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Breathe into the sides of the body and let the arms and shoulders relax. As you exhale draw the navel to spine and press down through the tail bone. Almost imagine you can feel you muscles tighten from the inside of the body.

This is called centering and its aim is to create a strong supportive trunk to protect the lower back.  Deep breaths enable the body to cleanse while giving the internal organs a massage. Focusing on the breath also keeps us in tune with our workout as our muscles respond to our thoughts so you’ll work the muscles harder if you’re aware of the body.

Repeat this circuit as many times as you like.

Roll down and back release


Place feet hip distance apart and exhale to tuck the chin. Roll through the spine one vertebrae at a time towards the floor and take hold of the toes (you may need to bend you knees) and keep the heels to the floor as you bend the knees and then extend the legs without letting go.

Repeat x 4 before rolling up to standing one vertebrae at a time.

Renegade Row

Bend the knees and place hands to floor walking forwards into a plank position. Push forwards on toes and lift hand bending the elbow before placing down and repeating. Aim to keep the hips still and imagine your ribs are wrapping around your torso like a brace, keeping the abdominals engaged.

Repeat hand lifts x 8 on each side

Push up


Lower knees to floor into a three quarter plank position and keep elbows into sides as you bend the elbows and lower the nose into a push up. Exhale to extend the elbows and lift back into a 3/4 plank.

Repeat x 8

Side plank and clam

Turn onto side and prop onto your elbow. Bend knees so knees, hips and feet are stacked and lift up towards the ceiling into a side plank. Hold and keeping feet together lift the top knee up and down working into outer thigh and glutes. Press through the tail bone and wrap ribs around torso as though hooking ribs onto your hip bones.

Repeat knee lift x 5 before lowering hips and repeat on other side.

Double leg stretch

Lay onto back and lift knees into a table top position (knees bent to 90’).  Place the pelvis to neutral (imagine you’re balancing Malteasers on each hip bone) and scoop in the abdominals and tuck the chin rolling head neck and shoulders up and reaching hands to heels.  Exhale and extend legs to ceiling lowering head and arms over head to floor. Inhale and scoop in rolling up and repeat reach to heels.

Repeat x 8

The Hundred

Extend both legs to ceiling and press heels together turning toes out. Scoop in the belly button (imagine that connection in the centre of the body. If the back is uncomfortable press gently down onto  the waistband of the trousers and give your self more contact with the floor).

Reach arms to sides and tuck chin, rolling up the head neck and shoulders (image ribs slide down to hips) Breathe in as you pulse the arms for five beats then exhale for five beats.

Repeat for 100 beats.

Hamstring pull legs as above place hands behind the back of one thigh. Point toes and lower one leg towards floor then quickly switch, swapping hands and stretching the hamstrings. Keep belly button scooped and chin, shoulders and torso lifted into a crunch.

Repeat x 10 each side.

Double leg circles

Extend legs as above and tuck chin slightly to chest as you hold head and shoulders lifted.  Anchor torso to the floor and lower legs straight towards floor. Open legs to sides and circle around coming back up to meet above hips.

Repeat x 4 then change direction.

Reverse table top extension

Roll up to sitting and place hands behind you with fingers directed at toes. Keep knees bent and lift onto wrists and feet bringing hips into a reverse table top. Slowly lower hips and sweep back between the hands extending the legs but keeping hips of the floor, immediately sweep through lifting hips back to table top.

Repeat x 5.

Finish with legs extended and reach through hips towards toes into a spinal stretch.

Safety note: If the neck starts to ache place a cushion beneath the head. Always be aware of your lower back and if the spine starts to arch hug knees to chest and correct the position or move onto the next exercise. You may find some of these moves a step too far to begin with but as strength builds you can add them into your routine as you get stronger.

Good luck!

kelly du buisson headshot

Kelly Du Buisson is a leading London trainer specialising in short, high intensity workouts that get her clients super-fit, super-fast. She is also the creator of The 7 Minute Workout: The Fastest Way To Shred Fat And Change Your Body Shape For Good, available from Amazon. Tweet her @kellyapf




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