Series of Five :: The Two Minute Core Workout

As a new mom I am the first to admit that it is a real challenge to find the time, or have the energy to get weekly workouts in. As a pilates instructor I know how important it is to get my body moving and strengthen my core. By building and strengthening your core you will help prevent injury, improve your posture, banish back pain and get in bikini shape. It’s really a win win!

Below I’ve demonstrated 5 of my favorite core strengthening exercises in this pilates classic called the Series of Five. This series will only take you two minutes and you can do it in the comfort of your own home. Grab a yoga mat or towel and start working towards a stronger core today.

1. Single Leg Stretch


  • lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest
  • place your right hand on your right ankle and your left hand on your left knee.
  • stretch your left leg out at about a 45 degree angle
  • switch legs, now hugging your left knee into your chest and your right leg extended out.
  • keep alternating legs for 10 reps
  • remember to keep your upper body still and engage your abs.

2. Double Leg Stretch

  • lie on the mat, then lifting your upper body off of the mat pull your knees into your chest and wrap your arms around them as if you are hugging them
  • engage your abdominals and then reaching your arms up towards your ears and extended your legs out in front of you at a 45 degree angle.
  • start to bring your knees back in towards your chest as you circle your arms back around your legs
  • repeat 10x

3. Single Straight-Leg Stretch

  • lie on the mat, then lifting your upper body off of the mat extend your right leg up toward the ceiling with your hands around your calf (advanced) or just above the knee (beginner).
  • extend your left leg straight out. Gently pull your right leg toward your body then switch legs so your left leg is extended up with your hands on this leg now and your right leg is extended straight out.
  • repeat 10 times each leg

4. Double Straight-Leg Stretch

  • lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest and your upper back lifted off the mat
  • place your hands behind your head and extend your legs up towards the ceiling
  • Slowly lower your legs a few inches towards the floor then using your abdominal muscles to lift them back up to your starting position (lower closer to the floor if you need more of a challenge)
  • repeat 10 times

5. Crisscross

  • lie on the mat with upper body lifted, pull both knees into your chest and
  • both hands behind your head (wide elbows)
  • engage your abdominals and rotate your shoulders towards your left knee
  • as your twist your upper body toward the left extend the right leg straight out.
  • repeat 10 times each leg


Alli McGinnis is a Pilates instructor, beauty junky, and veganish foodie. Alli's goal is to create a space where women can come and be inspired to feel confident in their own skin. On her blog, Inside Out Beautiful, she writes about everything from beauty and fashion tips to fitness and living a healthy lifestyle from the" Inside Out." She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and seven-month-old son Declan. Find Alli at Instagram @allimcginnis, Twitter @allimcginnis, Facebook Alli McGinnis Blog, and her website

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