These moves will teach you how to properly activate your core and target the deepest abdominal muscles.

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It’s surprising to many people that the core of our body is not just about our abs. It includes the glutes and inner thighs, as well as the low back. Strong core strength promotes stability, a solid central foundation, and helps to tone and tighten your midsection. This plan will help you achieve a stronger core, better balance, a slimmer waistline and a defined midsection.

These workouts combine traditional strength-training exercises with Pilates core exercises. They will tone and tighten your core from all angles.

People have always expected a plan that included planks, crunches, and mountain climbers when they think core. I chose to make the exercises more accessible for those looking for an entry-level routine in abs. Although they might seem gentler, they can be very effective in strengthening your core. My Pilates experience and 15 years of personal training clients have allowed me to compile a list of my favorite core exercises. This will help you get those deep core muscles engaged and strengthen them.

31-day core exercise routine

The routine for this month is split into two series. Core workout #1 can be done on the mat, or on the floor. You could do this even in bed! Core workout #2 can be done standing up, but not on the ground. Each routine includes a warm-up: the pelvic tilt. This is an important step I recommend everyone do before doing any ab workout. Proper alignment of the spine and engagement by your abdominal muscles are key to teaching your body how best to engage your core. You can automatically engage the transverse abdominal muscle by performing a pelvic tilt, and all core exercises that start from this position, strengthening the front and supporting the low back.

Warm up Pelvic tilt

Place your hands on your sides on a mat. Your knees should be bent and your feet flat on ground. Take a deep breath and fill your stomach with air. Next, exhale. Now tilt your pelvis forward and press your abdominals into the ground. Exhale. Repeat this 10 times.

Pilates ab crunch

From the exercise above, place your pelvis in the tilted position. With your lower back in the ground and your head down, tilt your pelvis. Next, put your hands behind your skull. Inhale and curl your neck, chest, and head up. Imagine that you are holding an egg between your chin, your chest, and your neck that you don’t want to break. Next, pulse slowly upwards for 10 seconds and then stop.

Pilates bridge

Place your head on the ground and lie on your back. Your arms should be straight with your palms facing the floor. Next, bend your knees so that your heels touch the ground. Slowly lift your hips towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for ten second when your hips are fully extended. As you hold the pose, make sure to squeeze your glutes (or butt muscles) together. Keep your navel in towards your spine. Also, make sure your shoulders are straight and your shoulder blades on the ground. Repeat the 10th time, lowering your hips.

Bridge marches

Place your head on your stomach and bend your knees. Keep your arms straight and relax them by your sides. As if you were wearing tight pants, pull the naval towards your spine. Slowly roll your hips to lift your low back off the ground. Next, raise your middle and upper back. As if you are marching, press down on the heels and lift your right foot off of the ground. Repeat the process 10 times, switching between your right and left legs.


Place your hands on your stomach and place your feet on the ground. Your legs should be lifted up so that your knees are as high as your shoulders. Inhale and press your legs at a 45-degree angle. Bring your inner thighs together. Repeat 10 times, inhaling to bring your center back.

Half-roll down Pilates

Place your knees on the mat or the ground. Straighten your legs for a more challenging exercise. Next, extend your arms straight ahead with your shoulders relaxed. Slowly roll the naval towards the spine, pulling it in towards the floor. Reach your arms overhead and bring your arms back to the center. Then slowly roll back to the original position. Repeat this 10 times.


Place your hands on your stomach, and extend your arms outward. The legs should be as wide as your hips, and the arms should reach as far as your shoulders. To engage your abs, pull the belly button inward and away from the floor. As you raise your arms off the ground, relax your shoulders and squeeze the quads to lift your legs off the ground. Keep your abdominals contracted and avoid putting too much pressure down the lower back. For a few seconds, then stop. Repeat the process 10 times.

Stand up and get your pelvic tilted

Standing pelvic tilt can also be done against a wall. This makes it an easy and comfortable way to work your abs. You can also do it without the wall. Bend your knees slightly while leaning against the wall. Exhale and tilt your pelvis towards the wall. To maintain proper posture, your low back should press into the wall. Engage your abdominals. Repeat the process 10 times.

Standing bird dog

Your right arm should be raised towards the ceiling. Now, place your weight on the right foot. Next, lean forward and reach your right arm towards the ceiling. Reach your left leg behind you. Straighten your arm and leg and align the limbs parallel to the ground. Your abs should be engaged. Keep your left glute and right hamstring tight and press the right foot into ground. Stability can be achieved by pressing down on the right cheek. Next, return to the center. Repeat the process on the opposite side. Perform 10 repetitions.

Wide side crunch

Standing with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders, turn your toes inward so that they face outward. Your elbows should be open. Next, lower your knees into a wide, open-toe squat position with your back straight. Keep your pelvis forward and your abs engaged. Then, reach your right elbow towards your right thigh and crunch it. Continue on the left side. For a total of 10 reps, alternate sides.

Standing bicycle crunches

Start in the same position as for the standing crunch. Place your hands behind you head and bend your elbows so that your feet are shoulder-width apart. Bring your right knee towards your left elbow. Switch sides and squeeze your abdominals. Repeat this 10 times on each side.

Good morning!

Your feet should be shoulder width apart. Keep your hands behind your head. Keep your shoulders back and your core engaged. Deepen your inhale and bend forward with your hips. Then, exhale and lower your body into an L shape. You will feel a slight stretch in the hamstrings. You’ve dropped too far if you feel pain or discomfort pulling. Slowly exhale and slowly return to the standing position. Repeat this 10 times.

Overhead circles

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms above your head. To make it more difficult, hold a dumbbell or something similar nearby like a pillow or water bottle. Reach your arms high up and draw your naval towards your spine. Reach your arms out to the side, forward, left, and right. Continue to make 10 more circles to your right, before going back to the beginning and making 10 more circles to your left. Engage your core by pulling your navel in towards your spine and squeezing you glutes. Keep your hips still.

Standing gate swing

Standing on your left leg, bend your right knee at 90 degrees and your foot slightly off the ground, place your right foot on the ground. Keep your right knee bent at 90 degrees. Next, engage your core to extend the knee to the right like you were opening a gate. Return it to the center. Continue repeating this 10 times, then switch sides.