This group of classic Pilates moves, collectively known as the Series of Five, is the perfect addition to any workout. Take it from Lisa Corsello, founder of Burn Pilates  and wholehearted Series of Five fan. "It is my favorite set of exercises," she explains. "Whenever I work out, I do a Series of Five. It's really focused on the core, but your arms and legs are moving in all these different directions, which makes it much more challenging to hold your position." Lisa recommends it as part of any workout (or even just to start your day off right), but she especially likes it after a run to stretch out tired legs and open up your chest. "It feels fantastic," she says. Even better? Incorporating these ab-burning moves into your normal routine will only add about two minutes to your workout!
The trick is to move through each exercise without a break. Once you've mastered this part, take Lisa's challenge: add a 10-second plank, 10 burpees, or 10 push-ups between each move to really amp up your workout. If that sounds too hard, not to worry: just switching up the order in which you complete these moves will still challenge your body after you've gotten the hang of this sequence. Get the quick ab-toning workout, demonstrated by Lisa herself, here!
- Lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest, keeping abs engaged.
- If you can, place your right hand on your right ankle and your left hand on your right knee.
- Stretch your left leg out, making it as straight as possible but keeping a slight bend in the knee. You can raise your leg higher toward the ceiling if your angle is too hard or lower to make the move more difficult.
- Switch legs, now hugging your left knee to your chest while your right leg is straight out. Hold on to your left ankle with your left hand with your right hand on your knee (or both hands on knee).
- Keep alternating legs for 10 reps. Remember to keep your torso still (not swaying from side to side) as you switch legs.
- Start with knees into your chest, head lifted and hands behind your head, with your upper back off the mat.
- Engage your abs, and use them to draw your right shoulder towards your left knee as you twist slightly to the left.
- As you twist, extend your right leg out at an angle.
- Switch sides as you breathe, reaching your left shoulder toward your right knee as you twist to the right and extend your left leg.
- Repeat 10 times per leg.
- Lie on your back, bend knees into your chest.
- Engage your abs, and lift your head off the mat, keeping a natural gaze. Hold on to the outside of your ankles or your knees with both hands.
- Inhale as you slowly lengthen your legs away from your torso, pressing them out with your heels together in a V shape. At the same time, slowly reach your arms up, stopping when they are by each ear.
- Now exhale and sweep your arms down toward your ankles; as you do, bend your knees back into your chest.
- Repeat 10 times.
Double Straight-Leg Stretch
- Lie on your back with your knees into your chest, head curled up with your hands behind your head. Make sure your upper back is off your mat.
- Extend your legs up toward the ceiling, keeping a slight bend in your knee.
- Slowly lower your legs down to the floor in small, one-inch increments. Do not lower your legs so low that your back arches off the floor.
- Now slowly raise your legs back up to starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
Single Straight-Leg Stretch
- Lie face-up on the mat, then lift your upper body up so your shoulders and upper back are off the mat. Bend your knees up to your chest to start the move.
- Straighten both legs so they are extended up toward the ceiling.
- Gently grab your right leg with both hands, going up as far as you can (thigh, calf, or ankle). Extend your left leg out perpendicular to your right leg.
- Gently pull your right leg toward your face, then swiftly switch legs so your left leg is up (with both hands on this leg) and your right leg is extended straight out. Gently pull on your left leg before you switch.
- Continue this "scissoring" motion for 10 reps per leg.