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The 10 Best Pilates Exercises

Updated: Oct 3, 2022


The Pilates technique consists of dozens of movements that tone and stretch the entire body. Start with the mat series and master 10 of the basic moves if you're new to Pilates. Sculpting your abdominal, oblique, leg, and back muscles with these 10 methods will teach you the competence and strength required to include more advanced movements into your Pilates practice.


The Hundreds


The Hundreds is a classic Pilates exercise that works the entire body. It is perfect for beginners because it is a relatively simple move that can be modified to make it more challenging.

To do The Hundred:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs in the air and your arms by your sides. You should be in a "V" shape.

  2. Raise your head and shoulders off the ground and pump your arms up and down 100 times.

  3. As you pump your arms, inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts. This will help you keep a steady rhythm.

The Hundred is a great exercise for toning the abs, arms, and legs. It also helps improve flexibility and stamina. If you are looking for a challenging Pilates move to add to your routine, The Hundred is a great option.




The Roll-Up


The roll-up is one of the most basic and essential Pilates exercises. It works the entire length of the body, from the tips of the toes to the top of the head.

To do a roll-up:

  1. Start lying on your back with your legs straight and your arms by your sides.

  2. Slowly peel your spine off the floor, one vertebra at a time.

  3. As you come up, reach your arms forward and over your head.

  4. Once you are up, reverse the movement and roll back down to the starting position.

This exercise is great for lengthening and toning the entire body. It also helps to improve flexibility and spinal mobility.


Single Leg Circles


Single leg circles are one of the best pilates exercises for toning the legs and buttocks. The exercise is also great for improving balance and flexibility.

To do the exercise:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight.

  2. Place your hands on the floor beside you for support.

  3. Lift one leg off the floor and circle it in the air.

  4. Keep your abdominal muscles tight to avoid straining your back.

  5. Do 10-15 circles in each direction before switching to the other leg.

Rolling Like a Ball


Rolling like a ball is one of the best Pilates exercises for toning your abs and improving your balance. To do this exercise:

  1. Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.

  2. Lean back and roll onto your back.

  3. Use your abs to curl up into a ball, and then roll forward and backward.

  4. Keep your back and head in alignment as you roll. You can also do this exercise with a Pilates ball to make it more challenging.

This exercise is great for toning your abs and improving your balance. It is also good for lengthening your spine. If you have any back pain, be sure to talk to your doctor before doing this exercise.


Single Leg Stretch


The Single Leg Stretch is one of the best Pilates exercises for toning the legs and glutes. It also helps to improve flexibility and balance.

To do the Single Leg Stretch:

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.

  2. Place your hands on your hips.

  3. Raise one leg off the ground and bring it up towards your chest.

  4. Use your hand to hold onto your leg just below the knee.

  5. Keep your other leg straight on the ground.

Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg. Do 10-15 repetitions on each side.


Single Straight-Leg Stretch


One of the best Pilates exercises for toning the abs and legs is the single straight-leg stretch. To do this exercise:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended straight in front of you.

  2. Place your hands behind your head and curl your head and shoulders off the ground.

  3. Hold this position as you lift one leg up into the air, keeping the other leg straight on the ground.

  4. Keep your abs pulled in tight and hold for a few seconds before lowering your leg back down to the ground.

  5. Repeat with the other leg.

  6. Do 10-15 repetitions on each side.

Spine Stretch Forward


One of the best Pilates exercises for stretching the spine is Spine Stretch Forward. This exercise is performed by sitting on the mat with the legs extended straight in front of you. You then reach your arms forward and round your back, bringing your chin to your chest. You hold this position for a few deep breaths before release and return to the starting position.

This exercise is great for stretching the entire spine, from the lower back all the way up to the neck. It can help to relieve tension and pain in the back and shoulders. It is also a good way to improve flexibility in the spine.


Sindgle Leg Kick


This Pilates exercise is great for toning the thighs and glutes. It also helps to improve balance and coordination.

To do this exercise:

  1. Start by lying on your back with your legs in the air.

  2. Raise one leg and kick it out to the side.

  3. Keep your abs pulled in tight and your back flat on the floor.

  4. Repeat this motion 10-15 times, then switch legs and repeat.

This is a great exercise for beginners. However, you can make it more challenging by holding a weight in your hands or by wearing ankle weights.


Side Kicks


Side kicks are one of the best pilates exercises for toning the legs and buttocks. To do this exercise:

  1. Start by lying on your side with your legs straight.

  2. Raise your top leg to hip height and kick it out to the side.

  3. Keep your abs pulled in so that you don’t arch your back.

  4. Repeat this movement for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.

This exercise is great for toning the muscles in the legs and buttocks. It also helps to improve balance and coordination.


Side Kick Circles


The side kick circle is one of the best Pilates exercises for toning your outer thighs and buttocks. This exercise also works your core muscles, including your abs and back. To do this exercise:

  1. Start by lying on your side with your legs extended straight.

  2. Place your hand on the floor in front of you to help support your body.

  3. Raise your top leg up to hip level and make small circles with your leg.

  4. Keep your leg straight and your core engaged throughout the exercise.

  5. Do 10-15 circles in each direction, switch sides and repeat.

Book A Port Moody & Coquitlam Pilates Class


Whether you just want to achieve a leaner, toned look, improve your range of movement or strength, or you’re recovering from an injury, come down to our Pilates Studio here in Port Moody and Coquitlam. Our expert instructors can help you design a plan that helps you recover quicker, get fitter faster, and stay active longer. You can book an appointment online, and our friendly staff is always available to answer any questions you may have.


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