8 of the Best Pilates At-Home Exercises
Pilates is such a versatile workout. You can do it with all the equipment at a designated studio, or it can be just you, yourself, and your mat in the comfort of your own home. And, thankfully, many of the top Pilates moves are easy to work into any Pilates at-home workout. (No equipment needed!)
Pilates, like yoga and barre, can help you work on your range of motion, and it is appropriate for almost everyone. And with a big focus on core work, you’ll be improving your posture and balance while strengthening your whole body.
We’ve compiled eight of our favorite Pilates at-home exercises. Perform them in the order shown for a comprehensive workout that emphasizes the core. All together, they take less than 20 minutes, resting one minute between sets and exercises.
- Start by lying supine (on your back) on your mat with your legs extended toward the ceiling, toes pointed and heels together. Place your hands lightly behind your ears and keep your elbows wide. Engage your abs to press your lower back into the floor. Lift your chest up to bring your shoulders off the floor. This is the starting position.
- Inhale as you lower your legs with control. Only lower your legs as far as you’re able to without letting your lower back lift off the floor.
- Once you’ve reached your end range of motion, exhale as you lift your legs back to starting position.
- Do 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps.
- Tip: Throughout the whole move, keep your elbows wide and your lower back pressed into the floor. Avoid craning your neck or pulling your head with your hands; the curl of your upper body should come from your abs.
2. The Hundred
- Lie supine on the mat with your arms by your sides, palms down. Put your legs in a tabletop position (thighs vertical, knees bent, and shins parallel to the floor). This is the starting position.
- Engage your abs to lift your shoulders and head off the mat (keep your lower back pressed into it), and lift your arms a couple of inches.
- Inhale for a count of five, pumping your arms up and down by your sides five times, making sure your fingers, hands, and arms are straight.
- Exhale for a count of five with five more arm pumps.
- After you complete 10 breaths and pumps, immediately start the count again.
- Repeat 10 times to reach that magic number: 100. (That makes 10 sets of 10 reps.)
- After the final set, inhale, increase your curl, and reach your arms past your hips. Pause, and then exhale, lowering yourself back to the starting position to finish .
3. Plank Mountain Climber
- Start in high plank position: Arms straight, shoulders stacked over your wrists, core engaged, body straight from head to heels.
- Lift your right foot off the floor and slowly bring your right knee toward your chest as you inhale, keeping your back flat and hips down.
- Return to the starting position as you exhale. Repeat with your left leg.
- Continue alternating legs, performing equal reps on both sides.
- Start at a slow pace with 8 to 10 reps per leg, and do 2 sets. As you get more proficient, increase the number of reps and sets.
4. Ab Roll-up
- Lie on your back and extend your legs straight out on a mat.
- Reach your arms up to the ceiling, flex your feet, and squeeze your legs together.
- Inhale and lift your head off the floor.
- Exhale and engage your abs and core, slowly rolling up as you reach forward toward your toes. Keep your back rounded through the forward fold.
- Inhale and roll back slightly, and then exhale to roll all the way back down (one vertebra at a time) until you’re flat on the floor again.
- Start with 2 sets of 5 reps. Increase your reps and sets as you get more comfortable with the motion.
5. Single-Leg Circle
- Lie flat on your back with your arms by your sides, palms down.
- Extend your right leg straight toward the ceiling with your toes pointed. (If you feel too much of a stretch, you can soften the knee.)
- From here, move your raised leg in 8 large, controlled, clockwise circles, as if you’re tracing them in the air with your foot. Reverse the circles, moving in a counterclockwise direction for the same number of reps. Keep your core engaged and your lower back pressed into the floor.
- Lower your leg to the floor and repeat with your opposite leg. Start with 2 sets of 10 reps per leg, increasing the number of sets and reps as you become stronger.
6. Flutter Kick
- Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your sides.
- Engage your core and press your head, shoulders, and lower back into the floor as you raise both legs about 12 inches.
- Keep both legs straight as you alternately lift and lower each foot in a fluttering motion.
- Complete an equal number of reps with each leg. Start with 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent 90 degrees (shins parallel to the ground). Gently place your fingertips behind your ears with your elbows pointing out to your sides. Engage your core, keeping your lower back pressed into the floor, and lift your shoulder blades off of the floor. This is the starting position.
- Exhale as you twist your upper body to the right, extending your left leg straight out, and bringing your left elbow to your right knee.
- Come back to the starting position as you inhale.
- Exhale again, twisting your upper body to the left as your right leg extends, bringing your right elbow to your left knee.
- Continue alternating sides. Do 2 sets of 10 reps per leg.
- Lay on your back with your arms by your sides, knees bent, feet flat (hip-width apart), core engaged, and lower back pressed into the ground. This is the starting position
- Lift one leg up straight at about a 45-degree angle to the ground. Reach your arms above your head, and then circle them down toward your sides and then up parallel to your lifted leg as you inhale and raise your entire torso, creating a “V” shape with your body.
- Hold this position for 5 breaths, then slowly roll back down to the starting position as you exhale.
- Switch legs and repeat.
- Do two sets of 5 to 10 reps per leg, alternating legs with each rep.
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