6 of the best Pilates core exercises to strengthen the abs and core muscles

6 of the best Pilates core exercises to strengthen the abs and core muscles

When you create a regular Pilates practice and with the below Pilates core exercises you’ll notice some pretty amazing changes to your body and mind. You’ll feel stronger and you’ll create toned, lean muscles. You’ll strengthen your core muscles, you’ll create better posture and stand tall with confidence. There are a tonne of fabulous benefits when doing Pilates, with lots of people associating Pilates with improving your core. And rightly so. We take a look at the 6 best Pilates core exercises for your abs and other core muscles.  

But also, in even more exciting news is that we have a FREE 3 Day Core Challenge ready and waiting for YOU right now!

The classes are designed to strengthen your core and build inner confidence. You simply need to sign up over here and you’ll get all the details sent directly to your inbox. 

Pilates movements are all about focus and concentration, this creates more presence with your movement. 

You’ll move with integrity which leads to more effective results and less injury. Because of this concentration and presence when you practise you will create mind-body awareness and feel a sense of mental clarity. 

Also, as you practice, you work on your coordination and this does amazing things for your brain and cognitive function.

With many of our MerryBody Pilates classes, we also add speed, so this means you’ll get your heart rate up and build cardiovascular strength.

Oh and they’re actually FUN, making it easier to create a consistent Pilates practice because you actually look forward to getting on the mat.

Plus, when you move your body and practise Pilates you release the feel-good chemicals dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. Get ready to feel goooooood. 

Ahhh, you really will experience so many benefits when you practise Pilates. If you want to read more about the Principles of Pilates head on over to this article.

BUT let’s talk more about your core. 

Strengthening your core (which isn’t just your abs (transverse: the inner abs and rectus: the outer abs) but also includes your obliques and lower back muscles) is one of the most amazing things you can do for your overall health and fitness.

A strong core will create better posture and you’ll gain better balance and stability. This helps to prevent injury, especially important as we all age. 

But the big question is, how do we strengthen the core and…

what are the best Pilates core exercises to strengthen the abs and core muscles?


When you think about ab and core work you probably think about crunches and sit-ups. And YES in our  MerryBody Pilates Classes we do many crunch variations but there are so many other exercises you can do to strengthen your core. 

Here are some of our most favourite Pilates core and ab moves we use in MerryBody Classes.

Pilates Core Exercise 1 – Plank

  • Begin in a high plank with your hands directly under your shoulders, micro bend your elbows, spread the fingertips.
  • Keep your core, booty, and quads engaged to help stabilise your body. Press the feet back towards the space behind you.
  • You want to feel your lower ribs pull back toward the spine and down toward the ribs.
  • Option, drop knees down to the ground. Still a great option, you will feel it!
  • Depending on how you’re feeling, start with a 20 second hold and then build from there. 

In our FREE 3 day Core Challenge, you’ll find 2 epic classes with Planks! The classes are short and effective, all under 10 minutes! Get instant access to Day 1 when you SIGN UP HERE!

Pilates Core Exercise 2 – Mountain climbers

The best Pilates core exercises to strengthen the abs and core muscles

Pilates Core Exercise 3 – Hip dips

best Pilates core exercises to strengthen the abs and core muscles

Pilates Core Exercise 5 – C-curve

  • Sit on the mat, bend your knees, plant your feet on the ground and squeeze the inner thighs together.
  • Extend the arms out in front of you. Look down slightly towards the pelvis and notice your spine curve.
  • Engage your abs inwards and upwards, lower the torso down towards the ground, then lift it. 
  • Inhale as you lower, exhale as you lift.
  • Try to use your core to lift and lower the torso.
  • Repeat 20 times.

The best Pilates core exercises to strengthen the abs and core muscles

Pilates Core Exercise 6 – Crunch

  • Lay on your back on the mat, bend your knees, plant your feet hip-width apart.
  • Link the fingertips together and rest your head into the palms of your hands (like a basket), allow the thumbs to trace down the back of your neck. 
  • Engage your abs inwards and upwards, lift your head and shoulders off the mat then lower. Gaze towards where the ceiling meets the wall. Exhale on the lift and inhale as you return towards the ground.
  • Repeat 20 times.

Ohhh how we LOVE doing all of these Pilates Core and Ab exercises to strengthen the core muscles! And we include many different sequences and variations in our MerryBody Classes. 

For all our members, here are some of our most favourite classes. When you do these classes consistently you will strengthen your core! And always remember there are regression and progression options in our classes… so they are perfect for all levels! 

MerryBody best Pilates core and ab classes


Simply search for the class inside the MerryBody app or even better. Selects ‘abs’ in your filter function and you will find every single one of our core and ab Pilates classes!

Switch on your core

Get ready for a super quick and effective core workout. You’ll plank it, crunch it and tap it. It’s just 10 minutes, the perfect class when you’re short on time… OR stack in another class for a longer workout. 

Amazing abs and arms

Your abs and arms are already SO amazing but get ready for some action with this 19 minute MerryBody Pilates class! A mix of crunches, c-curve, tricep dips and some new moves to keep your brain and body firing! 

Bangin’ booty arms and abs

The name says it all. The perfect Pilates workout to strengthen and tone your booty, arms and abs! Remember to hold your core in nice and strong throughout the whole class… really Pilates is one continual ab workout! It’s a 28-minute class and you will feel it!

Drop it like it’s hot

There is just one word to describe this class: FUN! Seriously, it’s a total body workout (and yes, it’s going to get a lil sweaty up in here) but you are sure to smile. We start with wide squats, adding some quick arm movements to tone… and then come the booty drops! From here we move to the Earth where we build the core! Think: crunches, leg lifts and lowers, side c-curve and MORE! So are you ready to drop it like it’s hot?

Planking burn

The Pilates Plank is our all-time favourite way to move, this 7 minute class will work your core PLUS get your heart pumping! The perfect class to add some cardio to your day. Remember, we always have modifications! A great option is on the knees and Carla demonstrates this during the class. And don’t forget to breathe, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, this helps to keep the core engaged!

If you do any of the classes or practise any of the above Pilates exercises let us know how you go! We’d LOVE to hear from you!

Also! Here’s a super short and effective MerryBody Pilates core and abs class you can try right NOW!

This 8 minute abs workout is on our YouTube channel, head on over here to check it out!


Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla 

P.s if you want to learn more about becoming a MerryBody Member head on over HERE! For the first time in a long time, actually enjoy working out and prepare to be HOOKED on feeling amazing. With the MerryBody Method, you will go from dreading exercise to enjoying and being excited by it.  
Pps. if you’d prefer to start with our FREE 3 Day Core Challenge, check out this page and sign up.

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