Core Pilates exercises focus on working out the muscles in the core of the body, which refers to the back, buttocks, and abdomen. The Hundred, the Roll Up, and the Teaser are generally considered to be the most effective and indispensable among these exercises. They aim for stabilization, flexibility, and stretching of the core, and have been known to prevent or relieve lower back pain.
The Hundred is one of the classic core Pilates exercises and is generally used as the warm-up for Pilates exercise sessions. This is begun by lying on one's back with arms at the sides and feet flat on the ground with knees bent. Arms are lifted straight up to reach for the ceiling. The head and shoulders are raised off the ground to move towards the knees, and the arms stretch out to touch the floor beside the hips. It is important for the exerciser to keep the neck muscles relaxed and rely on the core muscles to do the work in order to avoid neck muscle pain.
The legs are lifted up, with the knees bent for beginners and calves parallel to the ground, or straight and lifted up for a more advanced level. The individual inhales deeply for five seconds, and exhales for five seconds. The arms are pumped energetically and the belly pulled in with each exhalation. The arms will have been pumped 100 times at the end of the exercise, which gives it its name.
The Roll Up is one of the core Pilates exercises meant to stretch the spine and strengthen the legs and abdomen. The opening position has the individual lying on his back with arms to his sides and legs together with toes pointing up. The arms are then lifted straight up with fingers pointing to the ceiling. He then inhales deeply for five seconds, and exhales for five seconds.
While exhaling, the chin is lowered down to the chest and the body rolled upward into a position of sitting up. The chin stays pressed against the chest while sitting up, arms and legs are kept stiff and straight, and the individual stretches himself to reach beyond his toes for five seconds. After five seconds, he exhales and rolls back down gently to the floor.
One of the most popular core Pilates exercises, the Teaser, promotes strength in the abdomen and flexibility of the spine. The exercise involves attempting to touch one's toes with legs and torso raised to form a V shape. The individual starts out by lying flat on the floor with arms raised past the head, but still resting on the floor. The entire back must be covered by the floor mat, and should not touch the floor at any time during the exercise.
The knees are drawn in with the feet still on the floor, and the individual performs five-second inhalation and exhalation, holding his breath for intervals of three seconds. The legs are lifted, toes pointed, to an angle of 45 degrees. During the next exhalation, the arms, shoulders, and head are slowly lifted to a seated position and the individual reaches for his toes. The legs remain suspended in the air during this time and should not touch the floor.
The thigh muscles should be left relaxed and the burden of lifting left to the core muscles. The body should end up in a V shape, while hands are extended to reach for the toes. The upper body is slowly moved back down to the floor during the next exhalation. The legs remain elevated above the floor.