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Create a strong core with just 5 minutes of 5 exercises!

Whilst many are enjoying a regular schedule during this summer term the summer holiday period is rapidly approaching which means our time and schedules may be changing again with travel, kids at home to work around and even some re-emerging business travel. So, this month I am sharing a quick classic Pilates series of 5 exercises to keep you going if you cannot make a regular class. Something you can easily squeeze into your day when you have 5 mins (try it whilst watching TV during the adverts). Even with just these 5 exercises done regularly you will feel the results of firming and strengthening your core muscles:

1. Single leg stretch

Flex up with head, neck and shoulders pull the left leg into the chest whilst reaching the right leg away from you, look towards the right big toe. Inhale as you start to switch the legs over and exhale as you now reach the left leg long, look towards the left big toe and hug the right knee into the chest.

2. Obliques twists

With your hands supporting your head (they do not pull on your head) and elbows wide, flex up with legs at table top. Inhale prepare, exhale twist up and over with your left shoulder towards the right knee and extend the left leg away from you. Inhale back to start position and exhale right shoulder up and over towards left knee whilst reaching right leg long away from you.

3. Double leg stretch

Flex up, legs table top hands positioned on the side of the knees. Inhale reach your arms overhead and legs long. Exhale, circle your arms down and round, bend knees and come back to start position with hands beside knees.

4. Scissors

Flex up with your upper body and bring both legs up as straight as you can pointing toes towards the ceiling. Inhale prepare, exhale reach your left leg away from you for a count of 2 and pull your right leg towards your chest with your hands. Inhale bring both legs back together, toes pointing to the ceiling, exhale reach right leg away from you for a count of 2 and pull left leg towards your chest.

5. Lower and lift

Bring both legs up, toes pointing towards the ceiling, flex up and hover arms long by the side of the body. Slowly lower your legs down towards the mat, going as low as you can maintain your lower back staying gently pressed to the floor. Squeezing your legs together helps activate the muscles to move slowly with control. Then lift the legs back up to the start position.

Repeat each exercise 10-12 times, then repeat the whole set again if you have time!

Hints and tips:

  • For all the exercises feel your lower back gently pressing into the mat.

  • Generally the lower you take your legs as you extend them out the more challenging it is so, if you start to fatigue or feel strain in the lower back reach your legs more towards the ceiling than the floor as you extend them out.

  • If you feel your neck straining, keep your head, neck and shoulders on the mat, this works for all exercise except no. 2.

  • Follow up with a relaxing child’s pose.

Make a habit of taking a few minutes to do these 5 exercises regularly and reap the benefits of strong core muscles this summer!

Karen x

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