The Best Pilates Exercises for Beginners
Building a Base with Beginner Exercises
The Roll Up
Work your glutes, lower back and hamstrings with this simple move. Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the mat. Arms straight and down at your sides, lift your hips up and squeeze the glutes.
You can do several reps of this and also hold the elevated position to progress. Also try lifting one leg off the mat at a time as you do this exercise.
The saw is good for your back, side abdominals and upper legs. Sitting up straight, extend your legs straight in front of you, about shoulder-width apart. Stretch your arms out straight and to the sides, palms forward. Twist the torso and reach one hand toward the opposite foot. Repeat with the other arm.
Open Leg Balance
Also known as a V-sit, this is a little more of an intermediate move that you can work up to as your abs get stronger. Sitting on the mat, lift your legs up, straight, and lean back. Reach your arms toward your shins and keep the legs and back straight. Your body should be in a V shape. Open your legs and hold the position with your abs in tight.
Swan is mostly a stretch, but it also works the back. Lying on your stomach, lift your head, shoulders and chest off the mat. Your hands should be on the mat, palms down, just ahead of your shoulders. Start small if you can’t do the complete stretch, ultimately working up to straight arms.
This is another good back exercise. Lie face down on the mat, legs out straight and arms straight ahead, like a superman position. Lift up the right arm and left leg, just a little bit to feel the squeeze in your back muscles. Switch to the left arm and right leg. Alternate sides.
Beginner Pilates Workouts: 30-Day Quick Start Plan
As a beginner in Pilates, take your time working through these movements and stretches. Start small, practice form and build strength. Use this as a rough guide to begin your regular Pilates practice, but always listen to your body and do what feels right:
- Week one. Start with the hundred, leg circles, and the swan to begin strengthening the abs, legs and back.
- Week two. For week two, keep doing the previous moves but add in a few that are more complicated, like the roll up, side kicks, glute bridges and plank.
- Week three. Now you’re ready to push even more. Add the saw and swimming to challenge your back and abdominal muscles. Increase the amount of time you hold a plank.
- Week four. Add in the open leg balance, the most challenging of these moves. If you can’t do it yet, start with an easier modification. Lower your legs so that the angle to the floor is less than 45 degrees. Continue to extend plank times.
At this point, you should have some newfound strength. Each move should feel easier as the weeks progress. Your balance should be better, and you might notice that your whole body feels better. Once you feel good about these beginner moves, try intermediate exercises. Don’t push it, though. If after four weeks you’re still finding these challenging, keep doing them for another week or two before moving on to the more difficult moves.
Try Online Beginners Pilates Workouts
Use these beginner moves and workout plans but also try an online search for more guided instruction. Search for things like 15-minute ‘Pilates for beginners workout’ or ‘getting started in Pilates.’ You’ll find all kinds of programs to follow, many led by experts with instructions and pointers on good form.
Whether you work out in a Pilates studio with an instructor or try the moves at home, start small. Before long, you’ll be able to do more difficult, advanced moves as you get stronger and improve your form. You’ll be reaping the benefits of regular Pilates practice within a few weeks.