This at-home Pilates ab workout develops your entire core in under 30 minutes

Pilates ab workout: Woman in a one-legged forearm plank following at-home pilates on a yoga mat
(Image credit: Getty images)

A carefully curated at-home Pilates ab workout could target and develop your core muscles in under 30 minutes, just like this one. Rather than shoehorning workouts into your busy day, why not slip this into your lunch hour with time to spare? 

If you’re searching for the best ab workouts to add to your arsenal, Move with Nicole (opens in new tab) is a pro at sculpting and strengthening glutes and ab muscles with her technical Pilates style. A few months back, I tested her Pilates ab workout for abs and glutes and felt all of my muscles working as I pulsed and pumped my way to a sore core and backside the following day. 

This “Total Core” at-home Pilates ab workout only takes 25 minutes and can be done standalone or combined with another activity for a full-body burn. It’s also a bodyweight workout, so unless you want to add intensity using the best resistance bands, you only need yourself and a comfortable yoga mat.  

Watch Move With Nicole’s 20-minute at-home Pilates ab workout  

A Pilates ab workout without equipment doesn’t speak “easy work” to me. Pilates workouts have a way of keeping your muscles contracting like no other if you find the right class. 

And research — like this study published in the Muscles, Ligaments, and Tendons Journal (opens in new tab) —  has shown that Pilates can be gentle strength training for rehabilitation or a strenuous workout that can challenge highly skilled athletes. This workout is the latter. 

A Pilates workout worth its salt will use a series of targeted ab exercises for high reps to create muscular exertion, increase muscle strength and endurance, and improve posture and balance. Many people also use Pilates for weight loss alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Unsurprisingly, a Pilates ab workout has a strong core focus, and exercises engage muscles at the front of your stomach — the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles), obliques, and transverse abdominis (deeper core muscles) — which provide stabilization to your trunk and spine. This routine also targets muscles in your lower back, hip flexors, and quads.

Nicole glides through a range of moves like twists, static holds, and crunches to challenge your core musculature and weak hip flexors (we've got hip stretches for that) without overloading your lower back. It’s a playful Pilates ab workout, but it kicks up a burn, although there are small pockets of rest featuring gentle yoga stretches — a temporary balm to stretch out fatigued limbs.

It’s worth flagging that Nicole doesn’t follow a set number of reps or sets, and the high rep count will test your muscular endurance, which will divide crowds who like to mark their progress and count down to freedom. I’m not a huge Pilates fan, but this feels more like a low-impact core workout than a typical mat Pilates class, so those with knee pain can benefit too. If you find your shoulders are weak, the mountain climber variations and side planks might not be your bag. In this case, pop a knee down on the floor for extra support or skip them in favor of a trusted forearm plank.

Your glutes will get some loving, but you can find the best glutes workout here, and I swear by hip thrusts to build strength in your core and glute muscles. Our fitness editor also loves this at-home Pilates workout with weights that can build strength all over, but you’ll need a set of dumbbells.

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.