Strengthen your core and undo the effects of sitting with this 15-minute Pilates workout

woman performing a plank outdoors on an exercise mat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The actions of engaging, controlling and strengthening the core make up the backbone of any great Pilates workout. But did you know that this much-loved mind-body low-impact exercise can help target your deep core muscles, too?

Your deep core refers to a collection of muscles located ‘deep’ below your abdominals and includes the likes of your transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, diaphragm and multifidus muscles. Strengthening this cluster of muscles has a multitude of benefits.

Enter, this low-impact Pilates workout that takes just 15 minutes and there are no crunches required. If that sounds like your kind of workout, roll out a yoga mat and prepare to fire up your deep core. 

This 15-minute workout has been designed by certified Pilates instructor Liv Rose of Liv Aligned Pilates. Rose kicks off the workout by helping you settle into your mat by lying down on your back and rocking your knees from side to side.

Watch Liv Aligned Pilates' 15-minute deep core workout

15 MIN DEEP CORE PILATES | NO CRUNCHES (Neck Friendly) - YouTube 15 MIN DEEP CORE PILATES | NO CRUNCHES (Neck Friendly) - YouTube
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Rose encourages you to place your hands on your hip bones to help you get a bit of feedback and ensure you are engaging your deep core right from the very start. 

Plus, she has strapped on a pair of the best ankle weights to her lower body to help level up her workout. These handy weights work by increasing muscular resistance, activation and intensity during workouts.

But if this is your first time completing this 15-minute Pilates session, it’s worth doing so without added resistance to make sure you hone in on your form and nail the movements. 

Most of Rose’s workout is completed while lying down, with many of the exercises starting from the tabletop position. It features a handful of the best Pilates core exercises, like heel taps, leg extensions, and scissors along with a handful of plank and plank alternatives.

As we touched on before, it doesn’t feature a crunch or sit-up in sight. So if you struggle with neck pain while completing more traditional core exercises, this Pilates flow is one to bookmark. 

What’s the difference between deep core muscles and abs?

Your abs are shorthand for your abdominal muscles, which are the most superficial layer of your abdomen, located between your ribs and the pelvis at the front of your body. More informally, they’re also referred to as your six-pack muscles. 

Your deep core muscles are located much deeper below your abdominals and are made up of a collection of muscles including your pelvic floor, diaphragm, transverse abdominis, and multifidus muscles. 

Research, published in the journal Medicine, states that strong abs play a role in preventing and rehabilitating low back pain and improving sports performance.

While strengthening your deep core muscles can help to keep your spine in alignment, it can lead to better bladder control and better balance, while also helping improve your posture to reverse the effects of a day spent working at your desk.

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Becks Shepherd

Becks is a lifestyle journalist who specializes in writing about wellness and home products, from mattresses to weighted blankets and cooling comforters. She has tested a number of mattresses for Tom's Guide, putting them through their paces to see if they stand up to the brand's claims, and offering recommendations as to the type of sleeper they will (and won't) suit.