I just tried this Pilates ab workout for abs and glutes — here's what happened

Pilates ab workout: Image of Nicole on all-fours with left arm and right leg extended
(Image credit: YouTube/ Move With Nicole)

This Pilates ab workout will fire up your abs and glutes in 30-minutes using just your body weight. If you’re short on time and still want to carve the core and glutes you dream of, this could be your new go-to workout. 

I — and over one million others — found myself landing on the hugely popular YouTube channel Move With Nicole (opens in new tab) when searching for the best abs and glutes workout to tackle. Whether you’ve previously clocked up reps using celebrity workouts like Chris Hemsworth’s 250-rep dumbbell workout or prefer a dumbbell abs workout instead, you won’t be disappointed by this fiery at-home Pilates pump. 

All you need is yourself, but you can add one of the best resistance bands if you want to take it up a notch. Pilates and yoga instructor Nicole uses a series of slow, controlled core building exercises to maximize the time spent working your muscles without lifting heavy weights. And the best bit — you can slip this ab workout discreetly into your lunch hour. 

At-home Pilates has soared in popularity, and now I know why. Find out what happened when I trained like the famous ‘Glute Guy’ using this 7-minute glute workout, or read on for my results when I put this 30-minute Pilates ab workout to the test.

Watch the Move With Nicole bodyweight Pilates ab workout 

This Pilates ab workout also targets your glutes using a series of intermediate Pilates exercises performed with little rest. Each exercise pairs with a pulsing movement designed to kick up a burn for those abs and glutes without any weight training or sweaty cardio in sight. 

Most exercises repeat for at least two sets and many are performed single-sided before moving to your other leg. The benefits of unilateral exercises are well documented, and research — like this study from Colorado State University (opens in new tab) —shows it can help strengthen underused muscles and improve imbalances. It can even promote cross-education — a process when muscle gain occurs in the same muscles of the untrained limb (result). 

Online workouts usually pump music over the video and minimize talking, so I was chuffed that Nicole layers her videos with laidback background music and cues the entire way through this video, which should help you nail your technique and minimize injury risk. 

I tried the Move With Nicole bodyweight Pilates ab workout — here’s what happened 

Your glutes are technically part of your network of core muscles, alongside lesser-known muscles like your erector spinae (the muscles supporting your spine) and even your pelvic floor (check out the best pelvic floor exercises for men and women). 

If you enjoy strength training, you require glute and core engagement to perform many functional lifts like squats and Bulgarian split squats. If these muscles are tight and weak, you’re more likely to develop injuries, like knee pain, so a core strengthening routine and glute strengthening program can be preventative.

Not to put a too finer point on it, but I couldn’t walk after doing this Pilates ab workout. I felt my entire core working through a series of twisting, crunching, and core stabilizing exercises like plank, and the next day glute DOMs were very real. You’ll also find yourself switching on your lesser-used outer glutes during these 30-minutes of fun (torture), resulting in a more well-rounded workout and peach. 

Writer Sam Hopes performing a plank during Pilates ab workout

(Image credit: Sam Hopes)

I’m not exactly a Pilates lover, but I’ve always wanted to find an at-home Pilates program I enjoy. This one will definitely be going in the vault for pepping my inspiration as a fitness instructor. Nicole forces you to move with slow and controlled grace (my face was anything but graceful) while pulsing, squatting and kicking your way to stronger glutes and abs. But it’s worth the pain because you really feel like you’ve used your muscles afterward, and I even shed a light sweat. 

If you’re after something more fast-paced, this is one of the best beginner HIIT workouts to get you started. Find the best glutes workout to add to your collection or Zac Efron’s Baywatch ab workout.

Sam Hopes
Staff Fitness Writer

Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and resident fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and workouts.