5 Best Exercises for Pilates Classes

Charlotte Miller

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Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned athlete, Pilates is a fantastic way to strengthen your core, tone your muscles, and get your body pumping for the day ahead.

Along with boosting your general fitness, Pilates targets your obliques, lower back muscles, and abs, helping you achieve perfect balance and correct posture. Say goodbye to back pain!

Here are five exercises you can easily incorporate into your Pilates routine.

  • Abdominal curls

As you might expect, abdominal curls strengthen your abs. This exercise plays a fundamental role in most Pilates workouts, either as a warm-up or an effective beginner movement.

If you have a tight upper back or weak abdominal muscles, you might struggle with this exercise. Don’t worry—we’ll include some alternative options in this article that you can try instead.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs bent, feet flat against the floor. Hold your arms behind your head and keep your elbows wide.
  2. Squeeze your abs and gently tuck your chin into your chest.
  3. One by one, curl your head, then neck, then shoulders off of the mat.
  4. Make sure to breathe!
  5. Now, reverse the motion and return to your starting position.

We recommend completing sets of ten reps—but feel free to adjust these numbers according to your fitness level.

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  1. The One Hundred

The ‘One Hundred’ is a basic core exercise and an excellent starting point for people with weak abdominal muscles.

  1. Lie on your mat, facing upwards, and lift your legs towards the ceiling. 
  2. Hold your legs at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Curl your head upwards and hold your arms alongside your body. Face your palms downwards.
  4. Inhale for five seconds while pumping your arms, then exhale for five seconds while continuing to pump.
  5. Continue for ten breath cycles.

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  1. Squats

Squats are an effective exercise for improving posture and strengthening the thighs and glutes.

  1. Stand with your feet parallel and about hip-width apart.
  2. Lower your body as if you’re about to sit down. Stop when your thighs are about parallel to the floor.
  3. Keep your arms extended in front of you for balance.
  4. Press up with your heels to stand back up while squeezing your glutes.

Try completing two sets of fifteen reps.

  1. Book-opening stretch

This is a simple stretch to work your upper body.

  1. Start by lying on your right side with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Make sure your hips stay in line with your glutes.
  3. Clasp your hands behind your head with your elbows framing your face.
  4. Without moving your hips, rotate your left elbow and upper torso backwards.
  5. Gradually return to the starting position.

We recommend completing one set of six reps on either side.

  1. Single-leg stretch

This exercise strengthens your core while warming up your leg muscles.

  1. Lie on your mat, facing upwards.
  2. Bring both of your knees towards your chest, touch your shins, and curl your head forwards.
  3. Extend one leg outwards, then the other, and repeat.
  4. Make sure you keep your lower back flat against the floor and squeeze your abs.


Pilates workouts are perfect for strengthening the core, improving balance, and boosting your overall wellness. Incorporate these five exercises into your daily routine and start seeing real results.