7 Essential Pilates Exercises For Beginners (IMPORTANT)

Starting any new form of exercise can be quite daunting. You see others effortlessly going through their range of movements but you don’t know where to start.

That is why going to classes can be somewhat intimidating at first. So, why not start your new exercise routine at home? This way you can learn the basics in private and gain confidence.

Learning Pilates exercises at home can also save you money on going to classes. But, we understand that knowing when and how to start is the biggest hurdle and why so many never actually begin Pilates.

The most wonderful thing about Pilates is that you don’t need fancy, state-of-the-art equipment to get started.

You can learn a range of movements with just a mat on the floor or on a soft carpet. Then, you can start to strengthen and tone your whole body and improve your mobility, flexibility, and balance.

If you want to give Pilates a go, then you’re in the right place! In today’s post, we will be guiding you through 7 essential Pilates exercises for beginners.

These will help ease you into the world of Pilates and help you become healthier, more toned, and stronger. 

Let’s get down to business!

7 Pilates Exercises For Beginners

Pilates is a wonderful form of exercise that not only improves your balance, flexibility, and mobility, but also your mental health.

After all, Joseph Pilates, the man who developed Pilates stated, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”

So, the fact you are here reading this means you want to make a difference to your physical and mental health.

Here are 7 essential Pilates exercises to get you into the swing of things. 

1. The Hundred

The Hundred is a key exercise in Pilates as it helps to warm the body up and strengthen your abdominal muscles.

It’s a great exercise to start with as it can also help with intercostal breathing. This is when you inhale into your rib cage whilst sustaining a pulled in nasal.

It’s a perfect example of how your abdominal muscles can simply engage just from breathing in a certain way.

How to do the Hundred:

  1. Start by lying on your back and then stretch your legs at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Lift your head and upper back from the ground using your ab muscles.
  3. Now, extend your arms out besides your body.
  4. Start pumping your arms up and down, whilst simultaneously inhaling and exhaling.
  5. Inhale and count to five quickly. Then, exhale and count to five quickly.  

Repeat this 10 times.

2. Roll Up

This is a key exercise to learn for Pilates novices. The Roll Up helps you articulate your spine better and strengthens your abdominal muscles. 

Here’s how to do the Roll Up:

  1. Start by lying on your back. Extend your legs out with your arms over your head and palms facing upwards.
  2. Point your feet forward and press your lower back into the floor.
  3. To begin, start to exhale. Then, slowly inhale, whilst raising your arms in the air until your fingers are pointing toward the ceiling.
  4. Tighten your abs and start to curl your spine off the ground. Do this one vertebra at a time.
  5. Raise yourself slowly whilst maintaining a curved spine. Do this until you reach a sitting posture and then stretch out toward your toes. 
  6. Slowly inhale and gradually reverse this movement until your spine makes contact with the ground again, one vertebra at a time.

Perform 3 to 10 reps. 

3. Swimming 

No, you don’t need a pool for this Pilates exercise! This is great for strengthening your hamstrings, glutes, back muscles, and helps to lengthen the fronts of your hips.

Here’s how to do the Swimming exercise:

  1. Lay down on your back and extend your arms over your head.
  2. Inhale slowly and tighten your abs. Now, lift your arms, legs, and chest off the ground.
  3. Make sure your legs stay straight. Now, exhale and hold this position.
  4. As you move one arm up and down, opposite to the other, start active breathing. Kick your legs like scissors simultaneously, as if you are swimming.
  5. Utilize the same breathing exercise as you did with the Hundred above (five fast inhales and five fast exhales)

Do this for 25 to 50 reps.

7 Essential Pilates Exercises For Beginners (IMPORTANT) (1)

4. Teaser

The Teaser helps to strengthen your abs and hip flexors. It also helps to improve your balance. 

Here’s how to do the Teaser:

  1. Lay on your back and extend your arms over your head.
  2. Slowly lift your legs to about a 45-degree angle. Point your feet in the direction of the juncture where the ceiling meets the wall. 
  3. Exhale and contract your ab muscles, whilst you curl your spine off the floor. Move into a “V” position with your arms extended parallel to both legs.
  4. Stretch out your spine and pause. Then, reverse this movement. Slowly lower yourself back into the starting pose.

Do three reps of this. 

5. The Swan

This is excellent for strengthening your spine, your buttocks, and backs of your legs. Just try not to overextend your back. 

  1. Lay down on your stomach and separate your legs, hip distance apart, with them roasted outward slightly. 
  2. Put your palms flat on the floor beside your face, with your thumbs parallel to your nose.
  3. Put force into your palms and gradually lift your upper body off the ground.
  4. Press the tops of your feet into the ground whilst maintaining engaged glutes. 
  5. Slowly lower yourself back down.

Perform six reps. 

6. The Mermaid 

The Mermaid stretches out your oblique muscles and helps to improve spine mobility.

Here’s how to do the Mermaid:

  1. Sit down on the floor with your legs crossed and arms beside you.
  2. As you move your left-hand overhead, inhale slowly. Lean your body to your right until you start to feel a strain on your left side.
  3. Deeply inhale before exhaling. 
  4. Move back to your starting position, whilst inhaling. 

Perform five reps on each side. 

7. The Saw

This exercise is super for improving control of your oblique muscles and toning your waistline. It also helps to lengthen your adductors and hamstrings. 

Here’s how to do the Saw:

  1. Sit up with a straight back and legs extended out, just a little wider than your shoulders.
  2. With your palms facing forward, move your arms out to your sides.
  3. Tighten your ab muscles and swivel your shoulders, arms, and torso to your right. Now, your right arm should be behind you with your left arm in front.
  4. Rotate your right hand behind you until your thumb is pointing downward. Now, exhale and stretch at your hips. At the same time, stretch your left arm out to reach your right arm.
  5. As you come up and return to the center, inhale.

Perform six reps on both sides.

In Summary 

Pilates is great for improving mobility, balance, and flexibility. The more you do it, the better you will become at the exercises. 

If you start off with these seven exercises above and stay committed, you will soon start to feel and see the benefits.