Strengthen your core with this at-home Pilates workout

Get ready to feel your abs burn.

leg pull, one hot yoga and pilates, tahlia ware, pilates workout, pilates exercise, pilates principles
Image credit: One Hot Yoga & Pilates

We all know the importance of a strong core. And we certainly all wish we had one. So for week five of our six-week Pilates challenge with One Hot Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Tahlia Ware, we’re focusing on the Pilates principle: centering. The workout is designed to build a strong core through stabilised movements. Get ready to feel the burn.

Week 5: Centering

“All Pilates exercises begin at our centre. The centre is the source of our movement and the focus of our practice. With a strong centre we ensure safe movement not only during exercise but also throughout our daily lives. We refer to our centre as the ‘Pilates Powerhouse’. The Powerhouse’ is the area between the lower ribs and pubic bone, which includes the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, pelvic floor and glutes,” says Tahlia Ware.

Missed workouts from week one, two, three or four? Start at the beginning and transform your body in six weeks.

1. Shoulder Bridge with Single Leg

Image credit: One Hot Yoga & Pilates | Tahlia wears Slinkii Athletic
  1. Start lying on your back, with the knees bent and feet flat on the mat.
  2. Inhale – Prepare
  3. Exhale – Lift the hips up off the mat
  4. Inhale – Lift one leg, keeping the knee bent and then straighten the leg towards the ceiling
  5. Exhale – Lower the straight leg down, flexing the foot
  6. Inhale – Lift the straight leg up, pointing the toe
  7. Repeat 3 repetitions on one leg
  8. Inhale – Bend the top knee
  9. Exhale – Lower leg back to the mat
  10. Repeat on the other leg
  11. Complete 3 full repetitions on each side

Pro Tip: Once you are confident with the exercise, try reaching both arms up to the ceiling throughout the exercise. This will provide less stability for the body therefore increasing the challenge.

Safety Tip: To avoid bringing the pelvis into hip extension, the straight leg should not go below the bent leg as it lowers. Lessen the range of the working leg to focus on the pelvic stability. It is more important to have the hips still than it is to create a big movement. Think of lifting from the little crease at the bottom of your butt, not from your back to keep the spine safe.

2. Neck Pull

Image credit: One Hot Yoga & Pilates | Tahlia wears Slinkii Athletic
  1. Start lying on your back with the legs reaching out in front; feet flexed and hands interlaced at the back of the neck.
  2. Inhale – Begin to lift the neck and shoulders off the mat, keeping elbows wide.
  3. Exhale – Continue to roll the spine off the mat and then stretch forward over legs.
  4. Inhale – Stack the spine to sit up tall
  5. Exhale – Hinge back, keeping the spine long for as long as you can then continue by rolling the spine back down onto the mat
  6. Complete 8 – 10 repetitions

Pro Tip: Imagine your body is a plank of wood as you hinge back, lowering the whole shape down as low as you can before slowly initiating the roll back onto the mat from your lower abdominals. Make sure each part of your spine rolls onto the mat individually.

Safety Tip: If Neck Pull is difficult to execute with completely straight legs, the knees can bend slightly to lessen the challenge, with the feet flat on the mat.

3. Leg Pull Prep

Image credit: One Hot Yoga & Pilates | Tahlia wears Slinkii Athletic
  1. Start seated with arms behind you, weight on hands and legs extended forward in front of you.
  2. Inhale – Prepare
  3. Exhale – Draw in through the abdominals and lift the hips off the mat, pressing weight through the hands and feet.
  4. Inhale – Hold
  5. Exhale – Lower hips back to the mat.
  6. Complete 8 – 10 Repetitions

Pro Tip: Keep lifted in between the shoulder blades, do not allow the upper body to sink when the hips lift off the mat.

Safety Tip: Look straight ahead throughout the exercise, be mindful not to let the head drop back to keep the neck and shoulders safe.

4. Leg Pull

Image credit: One Hot Yoga & Pilates | Tahlia wears Slinkii Athletic
  1. Start seated with arms behind you, weight on hands and legs extended forward in front of you.
  2. Inhale – Lift Hips to ‘Leg Pull Prep’ positions
  3. Exhale – Lift one leg as high as you can maintaining shoulder and hip position.
  4. Inhale – Lower the leg back towards the mat
  5. Exhale – Lift the same leg again
  6. Inhale – Lower leg all the way to the mat
  7. Exhale – Lower hips back to the mat
  8. Repeat on the other leg
  9. Complete 5 full repetitions on each leg.

    Pro Tip: This advanced exercise requires some serious shoulder stabilisation. Be sure to maintain hip position and abdominal contraction throughout the exercise. Keep the glutes strong to be sure there is no change to the body’s position as the working leg lifts and lowers.

    Safety Tip: Be sure to feel confident executing ‘Leg Pull Prep’ first before trying ‘Leg Pull.’

    5. Forward Stretch

    Image credit: One Hot Yoga & Pilates | Tahlia wears Slinkii Athletic
    1. Start sitting tall with legs out forward in front of the body, both legs squeezing together and arms reaching out at shoulder height.
    2. Inhale – Reach forward, keeping as much length through the spine as possible.
    3. Exhale – Allow the spine to flex over the thighs
    4. Hold for 3 Breaths
    5. Exhale – Roll back up into a seated position
    6. Repeat 5 full sets.

    Pro Tip: Once having completed the full exercise, try then opening the legs out to a V, slightly wider than hip distance apart. Repeat the exercise reaching the body forward, in between the legs to increase the stretch through the inner thighs and open the hips.

    Safety Tip: Keep the abdominals working throughout the exercise. It is important not to force the stretch but rather gently relax into it. Think of allowing the body to release a little bit further with every ‘exhale’, increasing the stretch with every repetition.



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    Growing up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney with a love of the outdoors, Georgia has always led an active lifestyle. She has a passion for health, fitness and fashion, and loves to travel and try new things. Along with her position at Sporteluxe, Georgia works as a fit model for global fashion brands including Bassike and Christopher Esber, combining her interest in fashion with her dedication to healthy living. She graduated from the University of NSW with a Bachelor of Media (PR and Advertising) and initially pursued the public relations field but was always drawn to journalism due to her love of reading and writing. For Georgia, life is about balance. She leads an active and fulfilled lifestyle and nourishes her mind and body but won't shy away from a burger and wine!