Four Simple Pilates Exercises for Beginners

15 October, 2020
The Pilates method is characterized by low-impact exercises and breathing techniques. We'll show you four simple Pilates exercises for beginners. Are you ready to try them out at home?

What are the benefits of Pilates?

The Pilates method is a set of exercises that are, for the most part, low impact. That’s why it’s so popular when it comes to improving postural problems and relieving muscular pain. What’s more, as we already mentioned, it’s ideal for maintaining physical and mental health.

There isn’t a lot of scientific evidence regarding its effects. However, a study published in the Official Journal of the American Aging Association concluded that practicing pilates twice a week for three months helps to increase upper and lower body strength and abdominal strength in postmenopausal women.

Read more: 6 Benefits of Practicing Pilates Every Week

Pilates exercises for beginners

To perform Pilates exercises for beginners, you don’t need any special abilities or be in perfect shape. Therefore, it’s a discipline that people of all ages can take advantage of. If you want to give it a try, then you’ll find the following information helpful.

One of the best things about Pilates is that you can easily perform the exercises in the comfort of your home. You just need willingness, concentration, and a mat.

Remember that this physical activity is meant to relax your body and mind. Therefore, it’s best to find a quiet and ventilated spot for practicing pilates.

So, let’s get started!

1. Roll-up

This is one of the most common exercises during the warmup phase of Pilates. It focuses on the abdominal region, improving flexibility in your back and developing strength, mobility, and strength in the spinal column.

What should you do?

  • Lie down on the floor face up with your arms and legs stretched out. Your legs should be above your head and in line with your shoulders. Your arms remain together as you push forward with a bit of force.
  • Inhale as you lift your arms towards the sky, making sure that your ribs remain on the mat.
  • As you exhale, try to gradually sit up, with your arms stretched out, as if you were trying to reach your feet. The idea is to move slowly without, paying attention to how each rib lifts off the mat.
  • Once your body reaches a “C” shape, start moving backward.
  • Inhale and, as you exhale, slowly return to your original position.
  • Do between 3 and 5 reps.
A man doing a Pilates roll up.
The roll-up is one of the best Pilates exercises for beginners.

2. Pilates Exercises for Beginners: Rolling back

One of the most fun Pilates exercises for beginners is rolling back. It allows your body to flow, swaying over the mat, to tone the muscles in your abdomen. At the same time, it provides a pleasant massage to your vertebra. 

To perform the exercise correctly, you need to really concentrate.

What should you do?

  • Sit with your back straight against the front part of your mat and keep your feet in the air.
  • Then, grab your ankles from the outside and open your elbows a little.
  • Keep your chin against your chest.
  • In this position, while inhaling, start to sway forward and backward until your back touches the floor. Do so without losing your starting position.
  • Now, exhale, and return to a sitting up position using the strength of your abdomen.
  • Continue this technique for 3 minutes.
The rolling back Pilates exercise.
The rolling back exercise stretches the spinal column and improves flexibility in the back.

3. Pilates Exercises for Beginners: Spine stretch 

If you want to get started in Pilates, then the spine stretch is one of the easiest Pilates exercises for beginners. What’s more, it helps to improve spinal circulation and stimulates trunk balance. Also, it benefits the flexibility of the muscles in the back of the leg.

What you need to do:

  • Sit down on your bat with your legs and your back straight.
  • Then, inhale and elongate your spine as if you were trying to reach the for the sky.
  • Next, stretch your arms forward at the height of your shoulders, parallel to the floor.
  • Exhale and start to stretch your arms forward until your torso forms a C shape.
  • Inhale once again to stretch a little bit further.
  • Finally, exhale and slowly return to the starting position.
The Pilates spine stretch.
The spine stretch is useful for your back and your overall wellbeing.

4. Push up exercises

This is one of the most common ways to work your upper body. These are the normal stretch that we all know, however, remember that Pilates is about more than just strength. It’s also about complete awareness of your breathing and balance.

What you need to do:

  • To get started, lie facedown on the floor on your mat.
  • Next, get on your hands and knees and slowly move forward with your arms.
  • Remember that your back should be straight, aligned with your head. At the same time, your arms should remain in line with the width of your shoulders.
  • Then, perform the push up by slowly going down and up.
  • Repeat the process 10 times. If you want to increase the resistance, then you can perform the exercise with your legs straight.
Pilates flexion exercises.
Pilates push up exercises are similar to traditional push ups, except that you must concentrate more on your balance.

You may also want to read: The Anatomy of the Back Muscles

Final advice regarding Pilates exercises for beginners

As we already mentioned, Pilates is one of the best disciplines when it comes to mental and physical exercise. However, like all exercise routines, there are certain recommendations that you should keep in mind before you begin.

For example:

  • Listen to your body: Whether you exercise alone at home or with the help of a trainer, you need to be aware of your movements. That way, you’ll understand what alignment problems exist in your body. This will help you to focus more on your postures to relieve and avoid muscle pain.
  • Inhale and exhale deeply: Breathing properly does more than advance further in your exercises. It also helps you relax your body and avoid unnecessary tension.
  • Know how far to go: Remember that everybody is different. Therefore, avoid comparing yourself with others and don’t stretch yourself too far.

Now that you know the basic exercises for Pilates, it’s time to find a mat and test the benefits yourself. Keep the above advice in mind and pay special attention to your posture to prevent pain and injury. When in doubt, get advice from a Pilates trainer. 

  • Bergamin, M., Gobbo, S., Bullo, V. et al. Effects of a Pilates exercise program on muscle strength, postural control and body composition: results from a pilot study in a group of post-menopausal women. AGE 37, 118 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-015-9852-3
  • Lizárraga, Zúñiga, and Lairet Isabel. “Pilates como enfoque alternativo de la terapia física.” (2018).
  • Boix, Salvador, Eva León-Zarceño, and Miguel A. Serrano-Rosa. “Identificación con el ejercicio físico y autoeficacia: Diferencias entre practicantes de Pilates vs no practicantes.” Revista Iberoamericana de Psicología del Ejercicio y el Deporte 12.1 (2017): 99-106.
  • Torales, Julio, et al. “Does PILATES improve mental health?.” Memorias del Instituto de Investigaciones en Ciencias de la Salud 17.3 (2019): 97-102.
  • Cazorla, M., M. Sánchez, and Patricia Pastor. “Método Pilates en la prevención y tratamiento de las lumbalgias.” Avances en la actividad física y deportiva inclusiva (2016): 140-154.
  • Cuesta, Lola Fente. “Algunas consideraciones acerca del Pilates.” Medicina naturista 14.1 (2020): 24-26.