8 Basic Pilates Workout Exercises

Pilates workout exampleThis Pilates workout is recommended for those who have attended at least one program based on Pilates and have already learned the basic postural and respiratory principles of the so called Kinesio-Pilates method.

During the execution of the exercises, some principles have fundamental importance, along with control and coordination movements, and the maintenance of concentration.

This method requires a lot of perseverance as well as perfect technical execution.

In this article we will see examples of technical execution of some basic Pilates workouts for beginners.

The Basic Exercises of Pilates Workout

Stretching and Warm Up

  • Start: sit with legs crossed.
  • Inhale: stretch arms upward, keeping your thumbs together.
  • Exhale: bending wrists, elbows and arms circling.
  • Reps: 4, cross legs in the opposite way and further repeat 4 times.


Roll Down and Roll Up

  • Inhale: prepare for the execution in neutral position (sitting on the gluts with legs bent in front of the chest).
  • Exhale: lift curving your back (like when you do sit ups).
  • Inhale: stabilize in the curved position.
  • Exhale: return to the starting position.
  • Reps: 5-6, go down towards the floor, feel one vertebra at a time
  • Recovery: knees close to the chest, helping with your arms, swing left and right slowly, circling knees, clockwise then counterclockwise.

Pilates: roll up and down


Rolling Like a Ball

  • Inhale: prepare for the exercise. Sitting position on the buttocks, knees to your chest and arms wrapped around your legs, wide elbows, and head slightly tilted toward the knees. Roll on your back backwards.
  • Exhale: roll forward on the back, making a single movement, slow and fluid, until you return to the starting position.
  • Reps: 10 times. Perform this Pilates workout without bending the spine excessively, do the exercise naturally, and avoid touching the floor with your head.

Pilates: rolling

Legs Pilates Workout

  • Inhale: slowly bring your knees to your chest and keep your arms on the floor.
  • Exhale: extend your legs and keep the heels up (foot down).
  • Inhale: right leg forward and left leg behind, gentle and prolonged movement.
  • Exhale: left leg forward and right leg behind, gentle and prolonged movement.
  • Reps: 7-8


Pilates: hundreds

  • Inhale: prepare for the position (legs position). Knees bent or perpendicular to the floor, raise your head and arms off the floor.
  • Exhale: pump arms up and down in a slow and rhythmic way, 5 oscillations.
  • Inhale: continue the movement plus another  additional 5 oscillations;
  • Exhale: rest.
  • Reps: 10 sets of 10 reps (= 100). 5 reps inhaling, 5 reps exhaling.
  • Rest and other continue another 3 times.

Shoulder Bridge

  • Inhale: feet flat on the ground, knees straight above the heels.
  • Exhale: slowly lift the hips upward.
  • Inhale: maintain the position.
  • Exhale: go down one vertebra at a time (bone by bone) to the floor.
  • Reps: 5-6 times.

You can also lift your leg upright and then lower it (one leg at the time), to make it more complete.

Pilates: shoulder bridge


Here's a video of the shoulder bridge Pilates workout:

Single Leg Stretch

This Pilates workout is also called scissors exercise.

Pilates: leg stretch

  • Inhale: lift head and shoulders, stretch your legs.
  • Exhale: bring your right knee to your chest, stretch the left leg.
  • Inhale: stop the movement.
  • Exhale: alternate legs movement.
  • Reps: 5-10 times (head and neck off the ground).
  • Exhale: down slowly on the floor;
  • Reps: 3-4 times.

Here you can see a more complete version of the leg stretch where you should try to stretch your legs more.


Pilates: swimming

  • Inhale: Extend arms and legs while you lay on your stomach. Lift arms, head, chest and legs off the ground.
  • Exhale: 5 oscillations.
  • Inhale: 5 oscillations.
  • Reps: 5-10 times.

Spine Twist

Spine twist can also be considered a more advanced Pilates workout, but it's pretty straight forward.

Pilates: spine twist

  • Inhale: sit with your legs stretched forward, keep your back up right and extend your arms in a T position.
  • Exhale: rotate to the right with a double pulse.
  • Inhale: rotate to the start position.
  • Exhale: rotate to the left with a double pulse.
  • Reps: 5-6 twists per side.

Well now I hope you know the basic Pilates workout exercises that will help you strengthen your body in an even way.

Particular emphasis is concentrated on core strength, which in turn is also a good way to prevent back problems...enjoy!

Oh by the way, Pilates workout is usually done on a soft mat. Do you have one?

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