1. Pelvic curl:

The pelvic curl is a mat exercise that is used in Pilates workouts to warm up your spine and abdominal muscles. This exercise helps in improving spinal movement, activating, and strengthening the hamstrings and abs and lengthening the hip flexor muscles.

  • Lie on your back keeping both your arms at the sides.
  • Keep both knees bent and a hip distance apart from each other.
  • Gently form a bridge by curling the tailbone upwards, then slowly releasing it all the way down to the floor.
  • For best results, your glutes should be engaged with a very slow and controlled movement.

2. The Hundred: 

The Hundred is a common yet challenging exercise for beginners in Pilates involving abdominal muscle tension and overall body strength.

It is performed early in the workout to warm up the body and abdominals for the Pilates workout. This exercise increases the circulation of oxygen in the body, increases stamina, and improves your posture.

  • Bend your knees above the hips at a 90-degree angle, with your lower leg parallel to the ground.
  • Extends your legs out to a high diagonal, keeping the head closer to the chest and start pumping your arms vigorously with palms facing down, away from the ground.
  • Make sure that the neck does not feel strained.

3. The Frog on the Reformer:

This Pilates workout is effective for your abs, abductors, hamstrings, back, and pelvis. If done with precisions, the resistance will provide flexibility and will keep the muscles engaged.

  • Lie down with your spine straight on the reformer carriage, your hands should be placed on the sides and the knees should be bent, shoulder-width apart.
  • Place both feet in the hand/foot straps to provide resistance every time the legs are moving back and forth. The legs are extended straight with the help of the rope.
  • Now, put the legs back in the starting position.

4. Leg Circles:

Leg circles, also called single or one-legged circles, is a classical Pilates exercise. This exercise warms up the hip joint, challenges your pelvic stability, and strengthens the core, glutes, and hip muscles. As the name suggests, you have to move your leg in a circular motion while laying on your back.

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended on the floor, arms stretched out by your side. Make sure to keep your palms flat on the floor.
  • Engage your core by pulling your abdominal muscles in. Extend one leg straight up with your toes pointing outwards.
  • Move your raised leg in clockwise circles. Perform ten repetitions.
  • After ten reps, change the direction of your leg from clockwise to anti-clockwise until you complete another ten reps.
  • Relax your raised leg on the floor and repeat with the other leg.

5. Plank Leg Raises:

The plank leg raise is a good low-intensity exercise for stomach toning and hamstrings. This Pilates exercise is a great way to activate your ab muscles and strengthen your core. Apart from your abs, plank leg raises will also work on other muscles, including your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and shoulders.

  •  Start by holding a plank position and aligning your elbows and legs in a straight line.
  • Once in position, lift your legs alternatively while squeezing the glutes and keeping your abs engaged.
  • Make sure your body is well-aligned and there is no bending of the knees.

6. Shoulder Bridge:

The shoulder bridge is great for, strengthening your gluteal muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, pelvic floor, abdominals and back muscles; most notably the tiny ones which control movement of each individual vertebrae and can weaken after episodes of back pain.

  • Lie face up with your knees bent, feet flat on the mat, and arms along your sides.
  • Exhale and lift your hips off the mat toward the ceiling. Holding this position, extend your right leg and kick it toward the ceiling with pointed toes. Flex your right heel and lower right leg to the level of your left knee.
  • Repeat for 3 reps, then place your right foot on the mat. Extend your left leg and repeat on the other side.
  • Roll hips down to the mat to return to starting position.

7. Roll Up:

Aside from strong abdominals, the Roll Up exercise is an effective way of increasing the flexibility of your body by improving hip flexor length and mobilising your spine. This is important because an inflexible body can lead to pain; it also makes your movement less efficient.

  • Lie face up with your arms extended toward the ceiling.
  • Exhale, curl your chin to chest, and roll up to a sitting position with arms reaching toward your feet.
  • Exhale and reverse to roll down, one vertebra at a time. Move slowly and smoothly with no forward lunging or jerking.

8. Crisscross:

The main purpose of crisscross, is challenging the abdominal muscles, especially the obliques and work the hip flexors.

  • Lie face up on the mat, hands behind your neck and elbows wide. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat.
  • Bring left armpit to your right knee and extend your left leg to high diagonal.
  • Twist to the other side and switch legs, bringing right armpit to your left knee and extending your right leg.
  • Repeat 10 times.

9. Teaser:

The teaser builds strength and creates length. The teaser will strengthen muscles in the front (anterior chain) and back (posterior chain) making it one of the most effective ways to work the entire body.

  • Lie face up and hug knees to chest. Reach arms directly overhead and extend both legs to high diagonal.
  • Stretch arms back toward your ears, then shift them toward your toes, rolling up to a seated V position.
  • Keep your arms and legs at a 45-degree angle to the mat.
  • From this position, lower and raise your legs for 3 to 5 reps.
  • Roll your spine down to the mat one vertebra at a time, then lower your legs to return to starting position.

10. Short Box Series:

The short box is performed on the reformer without the assistance of the springs. The entire series consists of round, flat, side to side, twist, and tree. These movements are designed to improve your mobility, strength, stability, and muscular endurance for good posture.

  • Start by placing the long box horizontally on the carriage.
  • Keep the foot bar down.
  • If the reformer has two straps, use both and place them on the base of the feet.
  • Press the legs out to activate more of your outer hips. There are options to sit on a sticky pad or place a long pole under your legs when doing some of the short box variations.

11. Elephant:

Elephant on the reformer is considered for beginner, but the concept of this exercise can be as advanced as any Pilates exercises. Performing the elephant is easy, but the movements will require a lot of strength and control.

  • Stand on the reformer with the foot bar lifted.
  • Place your feet flat on the carriage, with heels pressed against the shoulder rest.
  • Place hands on the foot bar as you move the carriage slightly toward and away from the foot bar to expand and contract the arch we’ve formed with our bodies.
  • Doing this move will require using abdominal strength and muscles to move the carriage.

12. Footwork:

The focus of footwork on the reformer is to strengthen the leg muscles and align the body.

  • Start with 2-4 springs depending on the amount of resistance desired. The foot bar and the headrest are up.
  • Footwork Pilates is performed lying down on the reformer. The actions in footwork involve pressing away from the bar with the legs extended fully.
  • Bend the legs and go into a squat to bring the carriage back to the starting position.
  • There are many foot positions in reformer footwork. These include Pilates V, heels, pads of the feet, arches, and feet wide.


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