Pilates Mat Exercises
- Beginner Exercises (42)
- Intermediate - Advanced Exercises (43)
- Abdominal Focus Exercises (27)
- Back - Stretch and Strength (20)
- Upper Body (9)
- Butt, Hips and Legs (32)
The Very Best Pilates Ab Exercise
Readers are voting on which Pilates ab exercise they think is the very best. Add your vote:
Beginner Pilates Exercise Set
This list of beginner exercises is designed help you build familiarity with the basic Pilates mat exercises. These exercises provide a foundation for building the core abdominal strength, stability, and flexibility that Pilates is famous for.
7 Yoga Poses for Your Pilates Workout
Use this set of yoga poses to teach yourself more about how yoga and Pilates go together and how yoga can teach you more about certain Pilates exercises.
A Printable List of Pilates Exercises
Here is a printable list of Pilates exercises. These exercises listed in the classical Pilates mat order as seen in Joseph Pilates book, Return to Life.
Arm Reach and Pull - a Pilates Fundamental
This Pilates exercise helps establish shoulder stability by increasing awareness of scapular placement and movement.
Back support is an intermediate pilates exercise that strengthens the shoulders, and teaches openness and stability in the hips.
Bicycle - Pilates Style
We all love an exercise that works a lot of areas at once. Bicycle, done the Pilates way, will work your legs, your butt, your abs, shoulders and arms. Bicycle is part of the free Pilates exercises series online at about.com.
Boomerang - advanced
Get exercise instructions for Pilates boomerang, an advanced Pilates exercise.
Cat / Cow Back Stretch
Cat-cow, a back stretch and extension exercise from yoga and Pilates is one of the best.
The Pilates Roll Up Exercise Instructions in Detail
These detailed instructions for Pilates roll up exercise will help you master this exceptional abdominal exercise.
Pilates Chest Lift looks a lot like an abdominal crunch, but beware, it's not! Use these instructions to work your abdominals in a way more effective than the common crunch.
Chest Lift with Rotation
This Pilates exercise strengthens your abdominal muscles and teaches pelvic stability. It is also a great prep for criss cross, one of the best flat abs exercises ever.
Child's Pose for Pilates and Yoga
Showing up in both yoga and Pilates classes, child's pose is a wonderful relaxation and stretch exercise. Here are the instructions for child's pose.
5 Anytime, Anywhere Pilates Moves
Practice these Pilates moves anytime for better posture and a firmer core.
Crab - advanced rolling exercise
The crab, a rolling exercise, requires total control from the core, giving you a great abdominal workout.
Criss Cross - Pilates Mat Exercise
Criss Cross is a popular Pilates mat exercise for targeting the abdominal muscles, especially the obliques. Working an upper body rotation against a stable pelvis is an excellent workout for all of the abs., but the rotation involved requires extra work from the obliques. Working the obliques supports posture, the ability to flex and rotate the torso, and is a waist whittler!
Double Leg Kick
Double leg kick is a powerful, intermediate level, back extension exercise. It targets the back extensors and the hamstrings, but you will find it requires support from the whole body as well.
Double Leg Stretch
Double Leg Stretch is really a powerful abdominal strengthening workout. In this exercise, everything moves from center, working the abs for strength and endurance.
Double Straight Leg Lowers - Pilates Mat Exercise
This Pilates mat exercise is a very effective abdominal workout, working both the upper and lower abdominals. Provided that you learn to do it correctly this is an ideal core strength builder. Follow these step by step instructions and learn to protect your back as you get a great abdominal challenge.
Flat Abdominals Series
One of the benefits of Pilates is that doing the exercises correctly produces not just great core strength, but flat abs. too.. Include this series of free Pilates abdominal exercises in your workout routine and find out how to work you lower abdominals, develop core strength, and get the abdominal muscles to flatten out.
Foot Arch Lifts
Foot exercises are an important way to keep the arches of the feet lifted, strong and flexible. Learn arch lifts, an easy foot strengthening exercise.
Happy Baby Easy Stretch
Happy baby is an easy hamstring stretch and a relaxing exercise for the back. Learn happy baby.
Head nod starts many Pilates exercises. A fundamental move, can use it to warm up and as a stress reliever throughout your day.
Heel beats is one of the best butt toning exercises. It works the back, hamstrings and inner thighs too.
Hip Flexor Stretch - the Lunge
The lunge is a basic hip flexor stretch, but many people don't do this stretching exercise for the most benefit. Learn to use the standing lunge as a warm up or cool down exercise.
Hip Stretching Exercise
This easy hip stretching exercise stretches the outside of the hip, providing flexibility and release of tension.
Inner Thigh Lifts - Pilates Mat Exercise
Inner Thigh Lifts work your legs from your core abdominals. They tone the thighs and abdominals and stretch the hips.
Knee Folds - a Fundamental Exercise
Knee folds is a Pilates fundamental exercise. It teaches pelvic stability and efficient movement principles. This is one of the Pilates exercises that is often used to help relieve back pain.
Kneeling Side Kick Front/Back
is a strong intermediate level exercise. Kneeling adds a new level of difficulty to side kick front/back, making at a real core stability exercise.
Kneeling Side Kick - Before and After
Learn to use oppositional stretch for better form in Pilates exercises. Compare before and after pictures of the Pilates exercise, kneeling side kick.
Lateral breathing will help you breathe deeply even when your abdominals are pulled in.
Leg Pull Back
An intermediate exercise, leg pull back tests shoulder and core strength. It also requires flexibility and stability in the hips.
Leg Pull Front
Like plank/front support, leg pull front engages every part of the body. Leg pull front takes plank/front support a step further. By lifting one leg off the floor, the instability that is introduced challenges the abdominals and shoulders to keep the trunk and pelvis stable as you move.
Mermaid Side Stretch
Mermaid Side Stretch lengthens and opens the side body, it engages the scapula in the back, and it connects your stretch all the way through center. Use Mermaid as a gentle warm up or a more intense stretch later in your routine. This exercise is one of the free sample Pilates exercises at pilates.about.com.
Neck Pull - Exercise Instructions
Neck pull is an advanced classical Pilates exercise. It is an abdominal and back muscle strengthening exercise, as well as a spinal articulation.
Pilates Neck Pull - Tips from the Masters
Pilates instructor Alisa Wyatt shares tips from Pilates Elders on how to do the neck pull exercise.
One Leg Circle - Pilates Mat Exercise
One leg circle is a great test of core strength and stabilization. One gets a great workout for the abdominal muscles by keeping the shoulders and pelvis stable against the movement of the leg. One Leg Circle also tones and stretches the thighs.
Open Leg Balance - Pilates Mat Exercise
Open Leg Balance is one of the best Pilates mat exercises I know testing the strength of the lower abdominals. Core strength is the name of the game here as you will literally lose your balance unless your abdominals are working hard.
Open Leg Rocker - Pilates Mat Exercise
Open Leg Rocker is a Pilates mat exercise. It is a rolling exercise that develops core strength as it challenges the strength and control of the abdominal muscles. Open Leg Rocker stimulates the spine and encourages full breathing. These instructions are part of a series of free sample Pilates mat exercises at pilates.about.com.
Opposite Arm and Leg Reach - Kneeling
Opposite arm and leg reach helps build core strength and stability by challenging balance. This is one of the Pilates exercises recommended for back pain.
Pelvic Clock - Pilates Fundamental
Pelvic Clock is a basic Pilates exercise. It helps one understand the difference between neutral pelvis and flat back, and how to move the pelvis with the abdominals. It also reveals imbalances in the back and abdominal muscles.
A beginner exercise that works the abs, hamstrings and inner thighs as well as offering a nice spinal articulation.
Pilates push-up is an advanced move. It offers a new approach to a popular exercise. Start working on it now - just know that is takes a while to build up the core strength, arm strength, and stability it takes to fully do this exercise.
How Not To Do a Pilates Push Up
Pilates push up is different than regular push ups. Take a look of what not to do in your Pilates push up exercise with this example of a Pilates move done wrong.
Pilates Quick Workout 1
Use this series of free Pilates mat exercises anytime you want a quick workout. It includes a warm up, exercises that tone the abdominals, back, arms, legs and butt, as well as some stretching.
Pilates Stretches Increase Flexibility
Pilates is known for helping people develop both strength and flexibility. This sample set of Pilates stretches includes exercises that increase flexibility of the back, front-body, side-body, hamstrings and hips.
Plank - Front Support - Pilates Mat Exercise
Plank targets the abdominal muscles and shoulder stability, but you will find that plank is an excellent way to get a full body challenge.
3 Pilates Plank Variations
Plank is a popular exercise in Pilate and yoga. Here are exercise instructions for 3 variations of the plank position: plain, dolphin arm plank and side plank .
Rainbow - Pilates with Magic Circle
Rainbow is a Pilates mat exercise that targets the hips and thighs, especially the inner and outer thigh. Lying on your side will require a good bit of core strength and stabilization effort from the abdominals as well. You can do Rainbow with, or without, a magic circle.
Reclined Twist - Gentle Back Stretch
This gentle twist exercise can be used as a lower back stretch before or exercise, or after.
The classic Pilates exercise roll over strengthens the abdominal muscles as it stretches the back and hamstrings.
Rolling Like a Ball - Pilates Mat Exercise
A classic Pilates exercise, Rolling Like a Ball is considered a fundamental exercise and it is almost always included in Pilates mat classes. Rolling like a ball stimulates the spine, deeply works the abdominals, and tunes us into the inner flow of movement and breath in the body.
Rolling Like a Ball - Standing Pilates
This standing Pilates exercise is based on the Pilates mat exercise, rolling like a ball. Free Pilates exercise instructions for standing Pilates work the abs and legs, and help develop balance and flexibility.
Saw - Pilates Mat Exercise
Saw is a basic Pilates Mat Exercise that is appropriate for all workout levels. It is a good spine stretch utilizing spinal rotation and the breath to increase the stretch. Here is a free example of this Pilates exercise, with clear photos.
Seal - Pilates Mat Exercise
Seal is a fun and challenging pilates mat exercise. Seal is quite an abdominal workout in that it is a rolling exercise that requires a lot of core strength in order to control the movement. This is part of the free pilates exercise series at About.com.
Shoulder Bridge - Exercise Intructions
Pilates shoulder bridge is great for training in pelvic and shoulder stability as well as strengthening the Pilates powerhouse.
Side Kick Front/Back - Pilates Mat Exercise
Use Pilates Side Kick Front and Back to work the back extensor muscles, the abdominals, the hamstrings, and the hip flexors. Side Kick Front/Back tones the thighs, hips and abs.. It is also an excellent balance challenge, calling forth the ability to use core muscles to stabilize the pelvis, and work the legs independently.
Side Kick Series - Pilates Mat Exercises
The Pilates Side Kick exercises strengthen and tone the hips and legs, as well as develop core strength by challenging the abdominals to stabilize the movement. Here is a set of exercise instructions for the Side Kicks that will help you use these exercises to their fullest potential. This series is part of the free Pilates mat exercise series...
Side Kick Up Down - Pilates Mat Exercise
Side Kick Up Down is a great Pilates exercise for toning the thighs and hips. It also works the abdominals as they must maintain stability as the leg moves independently. This is part of the free Pilates mat exercise series.
Side Leg Lifts - Pilates Mat Exercise
Side Leg Lifts done as a Pilates exercise works the entire abdominal region. Lifting the legs together keeps the inner thighs and buttocks engaged as the powerhouse pulls in and up, developing core strength and balance.
Single Leg Kick
This Pilates exercise focuses on the hamstrings, but it is also a great way to practice working your powerhouse by keeping your abdominals lifted throughout. You will also be practicing torso stabilization.
Single Leg Stretch - Pilates Mat Exercise
Single Leg Stretch is one of the best Pilates Mat Exercises for working the abdominals. It is an especially good exercise for the lower abdominals. If flat abs. is one of your goals, this exercise is for you.
Single Straight Leg Stretch - Pilates Mat Exercise
This Pilates mat exercise really works the endurance of the abdominals, and gives a great stretch to the hamstrings. It can be modified for different levels. Single Straight Leg Stretch is part of the free Pilates mat exercise series.
Spine Stretch - Pilates Mat Exercise
Spine Stretch is a Pilates mat exercise that feels really good. It can show up anywhere in your workout as a great stretch for the back and the hamstrings, as well as a moment to center oneself before moving on to more challenging exercises.
Spine Twist - Pilates Mat Exercise
Spine twist helps increase the range of motion in the upper body. It trains the trunk to spiral on the central vertical axis while maintaining the support of a stable pelvis. Spine twist works the oblique abdominals and the back extensors.
Standing Pilates Legwork Exercises
Standing Pilates exercises improve balance and posture. They are great thigh exercises as well. Learn two standing Pilates footwork exercises for beginners or advanced.
Swan - Pilates Mat Exercise
The benefits of this Pilates mat exercise are numerous. Swan is an extension exercise so it provides a great counter to the many flexion exercises in Pilates. Swan stretches the abdominals and hip flexors, even as it strengthens the abdominals, back and shoulders; as well as inner thighs, pelvic floor and hamstrings.
Swan dive is a Pilates exercise that works the back, abdominals, glutes, hamstrings, and inner thighs. It is an intermediate to advanced move that builds on Pilates swan.
Swan with Neck Roll
Adding a neck roll to Pilates Swan exercise will allow you to practice the easy freedom of movement one can experience when the head and neck are well supported by a strong core and stable upper body. Swan stretches the abdominals and hip flexors, even as it strengthens the abdominals, back and shoulders.
Swimming - Pilates Mat Exercise
Pilates mat exercise, Swimming, is a fun exercise, yet quite a workout. Swimming, like the activity it is named after, works every part of the body. This one is perfect for toning the abs. butt, back and hamstrings. Try Pilates Swimming as a great counter exercise to all the front flexion exercises.
Teaser with One Leg
Teaser is a fabulous core strength builder. It requires strength, stamina, control, balance, breath and fluidity - all the things we admire in a Pilates exercise. Teaser with One Leg is a modified version.
The hundred is a classic Pilates exercise. It builds core strength, stamina and coordination. To do this exercise well, you must fully engage the abdominal muscles while you practice a dynamic breathing pattern.
The Hundred - Online Video
This online video will help you see the ab and rib connection, modifications, and breathing pattern for the hundred
Towel Curl - Foot Strengthening
The foot strengthening exercise, towel curl, helps increase the strength and flexibility of the feet as well as naturally lifting the arches.
Pilates Mat Exercises: The Roll Up - Pilates Mat Exercise
The Roll Up is one of the classic Pilates Mat exercises. Roll Up is a great challenge for the abdominal muscles. It has been said that one Pilates roll up is equal to six regular sit ups, and is much better than crunches for creating a flat stomach.
Wall Roll Down - Standing Pilates
This standing Pilates exercise is great practice for beginners or more advanced students as it teaches the basic Pilates moves of using the abdominals to effect an articulation of the spine and roll the torso up and down. Practicing from a standing position makes this exercise assessable to people for whom rolling from a prone position is too...
Tips for Rolling Exercises
Rolling exercises are part of the classic Pilates exercise repertoire. They create a unique abdominal workout where we have to use a lot of core strength to initiate and support the movement. Review these tips for doing rolling exercises to help you get the most out of these exercises and do them in a safe way.
Use the Box Image to Balance the Body in Exercise
Learn to use the image of a box to balance the body in Pilates and other exercises.
Advanced Pilates Exercises
Learn advanced pilates exercises from the classical Pilates mat sequence.