Pilates Top 10 workouts
The exercises listed below are some of the most challenging in the Pilates repertoire.
And because of this they’ve made our list of Pilates top 10 workouts.
As with all exercises in the Pilates exercises, however, these moves are not just going to improve the way your body looks – but will also support it in other ways. These include: boosting circulation, aiding lymphatic drainage, improved breathing habits and better coordination.
Try these on their own or in combination and reap the benefits of the Pilates method.
Pilates top 10 workouts #1. Hundreds
Lie on your back with your knees bent and legs up at 90 degrees (or table top). Hands are down by your sides.
From this positon, reach your fingertips towards your feet as you curl you head and shoulders off the mat. At the same time, your legs extend out to a 45 degrees (or lower). Pulse the arms and coordinate with your breath for – you guessed it – 100 breaths.
Pilates top 10 workouts #2. Criss Cross
This is another abdominal exercise.
Start in the same position for the hundreds, head on the ground and legs up in table top. Then interweave your fingers and use them to cradle your head.
On an exhale, lift your head up by engaging your abdominals and curling your spine until your gaze is between your legs.
Criss cross by twisting the ribs around the spine, allowing your elbow and the opposite knee to meet and then swap sides. Keep this dynamic and move from side to side for several repetitions.
Pilates top 10 workouts #3. Bridging
Again, start this exercise on your back with your knees bent.
Then, stand into your feet and send your tailbone to the back of your knees.
At the same time, create a sense of reaching your knees away from you – this should help you to open up at the front of your hips.
Come to where your shoulder blades are still on the mat. Make sure your neck and shoulders stay relaxed. You should feel your bum and hamstrings working.
Then, slowly lower spine down from chest to pelvis.
Pilates top 10 workouts #4. Side lying legs
Come up on to one side and rest on your forearm. Keep your shoulder over your elbow and neck long with your shoulder rolled away from your ear.
The other arm can be bent with your hand on the ground in front to support you.
Bend your knees and make sure they are stacked one on top of the other. Now, extend the top leg in preparation for the exercise.
Leg circles: Draw small circles in the air with your feet. Repeat in both directions.
Front to back: Keep the leg hip height. Then, fold at the hip as you kick the leg out in front of you and then extend the hip as you kick the leg behind you. Make sure your hips stay pointing forwards and stacked on top of each other throughout the movement.
Repeat until you feel your outer glute starts to fire up!
Pilates top 10 workouts #5. Femur arcs and arm arcs
Lying on your back, take one leg up to table top or 90 degrees and then allow the other to join it. Keep them there.
Now reach both arms up until your hands are directly over your shoulders. Palms face one another.
Allow one bent leg to move in an arc away from you so that the toe touches the floor. Then bring it back to the starting position.
At the same time, move the opposite arm away towards the floor, reaching through the little finger side of your hand. Bring your arm back to the starting position at the same time as the knee returns.
Repeat on the other side.
Remember to keep your lower abdominals engaged and watch for any arching of your back as you move your legs towards the ground.
Pilates top 10 workouts #6. Dart
Lie on your front with your arms down by your side. Head is lifted with your nose grazing the ground.
Press your pubic bone into the ground. Now, reach your fingertips towards your feet.
As you do so you should feel a natural desire to lift you head and chest up.
At the same time, imagine your legs streaming out behind you which will encourage them also to lift up off the floor.
Pause suspended in the air for a minute and then lower down.
Pilates top 10 workouts #7. Roll up
Lying on your back reach your arms up and over head until they are resting on the mat behind you. Legs should also be extended straight out in front of you.
Take a big inhale. On a slow exhale, reach your arms back up and overhead, allow your head to follow and soften your chest.
Continue to reach your hands towards your feet as you roll all the way up and forwards until your hands almost touch your feet.
From here, restack the spine from the base of the pelvis all the way up to the crown of your head.
Breathe in again. On an exhale, roll the spine down slowly to the starting position.
Pilates top 10 workouts #8. Leg Pull Front
Come into a plank positon with your hands beneath your shoulders. Ears should be away from shoulders.
Inhale and imagine you could pull the mat beneath your fingers apart – this should help you keep a wide and open space in your chest.
Now, reach one leg away from you as you extend one hip.
Focus on lifting the back of your leg towards the ceiling. Then return it to the starting position and swap legs.
Pilates top 10 workouts #9. Leg Pull Back
Come to a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you.
Your arms reach behind you until they are in a straight line beneath your shoulders.
Press into your hands and come into a reverse plank position, with your head, chest and legs in one long vertical line and feet reaching towards the floor.
From here, lift one straight leg up towards the ceiling by flexing at the hip. Return to the starting position and swap legs.
Pilates top 10 workouts #10. Scooter
From standing come into a squat with your legs close together.
Then, shift your weight onto one leg. Make sure that your weight is predominantly in your heel and that you knee stays in line with your knee and hip (to keep your glute med active).
Then allow the other leg to extend behind you before returning it to the starting position.
Keep your hips level and facing square on the whole time. Repeat this several times on each leg.
Pilates: Top 10 exercises
There you have it. The top 10 Pilates exercises for the best workout according to Complete Pilates.
We suggest doing each exercise around 10 times – or until you start to feel things working.
You could also try these as part of your pre-gym activation or add some of them to your regular abdominal workout.
It is important to remember, however, that endless, mindless repetitions of these exercises won’t benefit you or your body.
As Joseph Pilates himself once said: “honour every movement” and you’ll get the most out of Pilates.
So, before you exhaust yourself with hundreds of reps of these 10 moves, remember – good form comes first!