6 Pilates Moves You Can Do at Home Without Needing a Reformer

POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell
POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell

We know that the lower abs are a pesky area to tone and target for building strength — so often we're feeling the burn, but it's only in the upper abdominal area! We asked Lisa Hirsch, founder and CEO of The Studio (MDR) in Los Angeles, to teach us a thing or two about lower ab moves.

Since she's an expert in the popular Lagree Method — a new style of reformer class using a Megaformer machine — she knows all about working the abs in a serious way (and trust me, I took a Studio (MDR) class and my abs were FEELING it).

Lisa knows that not everyone lives near a Megaformer studio, so she shared six moves you can do anywhere "to keep those tummies tight!" These are some the favorite moves from The Studio (MDR) modified to be done on the floor using either slider discs or replacements like towels, paper plates, or furniture sliders to mimic the machine.

She also told us to "keep in mind that all of these moves are done very slowly in order to be effective. The Lagree Method is all about slow and controlled movements to activate the slow-twitch, fat-burning muscles fibers."

Ready to get started? Let's work that core! Here are the directions, directly from Lisa herself — it's like a private class at home whenever you want.

POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

Reverse Crunch (targets the rectus abdominis and obliques)

"The rev crunch or the reverse crunch warms up your core while also giving your lower abs a burn. Lie on your back with your hands down on the floor and draw your knees up to your chin slowly."

Repeat the exercise 15 times for a total of three sets.

Double Knee Crunch (targets your upper and lower abs)

"Lay flat on your back with your hands placed gently behind your head and your knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Curl up by lifting your head and shoulders off the floor while also curling your knees towards your chest. Return to the start by slowly uncurling."

Repeat 15 times to complete one set. Repeat for three sets.

POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

Plank/Push-Up (targets total body)

"Planks can be done on your elbows or hands and are an excellent core and total-body workout. Make sure your elbows or palms are in line with your shoulders and keep your legs straight with your feet together and pelvis tucked and your back flat. With the plank on your hands you can bump up your heart rate by adding in a push-up every 10 seconds."

Hold for 60 seconds (or 30 for modification) for one set; and repeat for a total of three sets.

The V-Up (targets your upper, middle, and lower abs)

"Lay down flat on your back with your legs together and point your toes. Bring your hands above your head and lay them on the floor. Slowly bring your legs up to vertical while simultaneously rolling the core up off the floor and touch your toes. Exhale as you roll up, compressing the abdominal wall. Return to the laying down position and repeat."

Repeat the move 15 times for one set; repeat for a total of three sets.

POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

Bear (targets total body)

"Start in plank position with sliders [towels for hardwood or paper plates for carpet] under feet and slowly bend knees toward the chest while maintaining a flat, tabletop back. Modify by kneeling with sliders under knees instead or ramp up the intensity by adding a push-up."

Repeat the move 15 times for one set; repeat for a total of three sets.

Spoon (targets total body)

"Start seated with straight legs and the sliders under the heels. Press hands into the floor to lift the butt back and up toward elbows to simultaneously target the transverse abdominal contraction and stretch the hamstrings."

Do 15 reps for a complete set; do three sets total.