The Pilates Exercises for Beginners Everyone Needs to Try

New health trends and workouts are always cropping up with different techniques being more popular than others. But one exercise discipline that has stood the test of time is Pilates.

Created to not only strengthen but to also elongate your muscles while burning calories, this style of exercise has and always will be one of the most popular workouts.

So how do you go about starting Pilates? What sort of exercises should you be trying out first? Here we have 15 pilates exercises for beginners to help guide you into your Pilates initiation and help develop your technique.  

15 Easy Pilates Exercises for Beginners

1. The Hundred

This is one of the most common of the Pilates moves and you will find that most exercise classes start with this move The hundred is a move that is designed to work the whole body and can be made easier or harder depending on your ability.

To do this move, simply lay on your back, lift your legs (straight) into the air at a 45-degree angle. Then lift your head off the floor with your back straight and with rigid arms, lift them up and down in a pumping motion. Do this 100 times, hence the name of the movie. 

2. A Roll-Up

pilates exercises for beginners
Credits: Womenshealthmag

This move is a step up from the hundred, once you have mastered that you will be able to do the roll-up with ease. This move is designed to concentrate on your abs and is the equivalent of 6 sit-ups but also works the rest of your body at the same time.

Simply lay flat on your back with bent legs and with your arms rigid above your head pointing to the ceiling. Slowly but purposefully roll up as you would in a sit up and keeping your arms straight, guide them through your legs.

Try to keep your back as straight as possible through this move and pause at the top of the move before heading back down to start over. 

3. The Shoulder Bridge

Shoulder bridge
Credits: classpass.com

This move is one that works at building your muscle strength in your abs and your glutes. It helps to improve your posture and develops those muscles we all need to stand tall.

This move with a steady breathing technique will increase your core stability. In order to do a shoulder bridge, you need to lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet spread slightly apart.

Put your palms down by your side and push them into the floor as you raise up your rear from the floor. As you exhale, lift one leg and point your toes towards the sky. Swap to the other leg as you continue to inhale and exhale with each purposeful movement. 

4. The Teaser

Teaser pilates exercises for beginners
Credits: verywellfit.com

The teaser is for those that want to push themselves further in their Pilates beginner moves. To start with you should focus on a one-leg teaser which you can do by sitting on your bottom with your legs bent.

Recline backward (ensuring you maintain a straight back) until you feel your core engaging. Raise your straight arms in front of you in line with your temples and then raise one foot off the floor to be in parallel with your hands.

Once you have mastered this you can move onto the two-legged option which is to take both feet off the floor and bring them up to be in parallel with your palms. 

5. The Single-Leg Stretch

pilates exercises for beginners
Credits: sacdt.com

This single-leg stretch helps to build on your core muscles by strengthening the abdominals and the buttock muscles. It is simple to do but after several reps, you’ll certainly be feeling it!

The single-leg stretch is to be performed by sitting on your bottom, hugging one of your legs into your body and extending the other towards the end of the mat.

Do not let your leg touch the floor! Then, while taking a breath bring your extended leg back in and hug it into your body while stretching the opposite leg out towards the end of the mat. 

6. The Corkscrew

The corkscrew is not only fun but is also a great workout for the abdominals and your obliques. It works by lying flat on your back, raising your legs up into the air and then extending them over your head and towards the top of your mat.

The art of this move is to fully control it so that you aren’t urging your body to do the move but rather moving it with purpose. This will add stability to the move and will help to strengthen your abdominals even more. 

7. The Scissors

The scissors
Credits: verywellfit.com

The scissor move works similarly to other moves in that it works your abs as well as your back muscles and your buttocks. It helps to strengthen your lower body and works your lower core, an area that is often missed.

To do this move, lie on your back and raise your legs up to the ceiling. Lift your bottom and lower back off the floor and support yourself with your hands.

With straight legs, move them forward and backward in a scissor position, remembering to breathe the whole time. You can do your scissor moves as slowly out as fast as you like. 

8. The Saw

pilates exercises for beginners
Credits: Womenshealthmag

While this move might be easy, it is not for the uncoordinated and can take a bit of practice to perform without thinking about it. To start you will need to sit on the mat with your legs straight in front of you.

Move them apart about a foot and extend your arms out straight in line with your ears. As you breathe out, move one hand to touch the outside of your ankle on the opposite foot. Return to your original position and repeat with the other arm. Do this until you really feel the burn. 

9. The Seal

This move works the whole body but does focus on the abdominals as well as your inner strength. This move works your muscles best when it is controlled, and all of your muscles are engaged. To perform this move, sit on your bottom and hold onto your feet.

Lift your feet off the floor and get your balance. Then, roll onto your back while still holding onto your feet. Use your abdominal muscles to roll yourself back up to a seated position and repeat as required. 

10. Double Leg Stretch

Double Leg Stretch
Credits: Pilatesanytime

This exercise works both your stomach muscles and your leg muscles. To do this, you need to lie on your back and raise your arms up to the ceiling. Lift your head off the floor so that your gaze is directed at your toes.

Lift your legs up so that they are at a 60-80 degree angle from the floor and hold. Breathe out as you hold the position for a few seconds and release. Inhale and perform the move again. 

11. The Spine Twist

pilates exercises for beginners
Credits: verywellfit.com

This move is a great easy twist to help with your flexibility and core strength. Simply sit on your mat with your legs straight in front of you. Sitting high on your buttock bones and a straight back. Extend your arms out so that your hands are in line with your ears.

As you exhale, twist your body around so that you face the left, then the right. As you work on this move, you will be able to twist further and stretch your back more and more. 

12. The Bicycle

The bicycle is similar to the scissor and works your legs, buttocks, abs, arms and shoulder muscles. This all-round body toner is great for your posture as well and once you get the swing of it you can do it for hours.

In order to perform this exercise, you need to lie on your back with your legs straight. Lift your legs up so that your feet are pointing the ceiling. Lift your lower back off the floor and support yourself with your hands.

Then, circle your feet and legs as if you were riding a bicycle. Do this for as long as you can before fatigue affects your performance. 

13. The Swan

The swan
Credits: complete-pilates.co.uk

The swan is a move that can be performed on a machine (as above) or on the floor if you don’t have the equipment. You lie on your front with your arms by your side.

Lift your head up and your chest off the floor. As you develop your skills you will be able to perform a full swan which is to raise your feet and your palms off the floor as well. 

14. The Mermaid

The mermaid
Credits: pilatesofpasadena

This move works the shoulder, thighs and the obliques as well. This move is called such because it encourages you to start by sitting like a mermaid. Sit on your bottom and bend one leg behind you with one leg in front of you.

Lift an arm over your head and lean over to extend your side muscles. This move might not sound easy but once you have it down to fine art then it will feel great and will stretch those muscles. 

15. The Cobra

pilates exercises for beginners
Credits: corepilatesnorfolk.co.uk

This move helps to stretch out your back and your abdominal muscles. You start by lying on your front and, using your arms lift your body up from the floor. Look ahead of you and try to keep your gaze straightforward rather than looking to the sky.

Try not to push your feet down into the ground and keep them light so that you don’t create tension in your legs. 

So, there you have it! 15 simple Pilates exercises for beginners to try at home! 

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