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How To Do Pilates Exercise, Back Support


Updated August 26, 2009

sample pilates exercise - back support

Lara Kolesar demonstrates back support

(c)2007, Marguerite Ogle
There are many forward folding and spinal articulation exercises in the Pilates mat sequence. But with back support we get to focus on just the opposite, which makes it an important counter balancing exercise. Back support strengthens the hip extensors, back extensors, and shoulder extensors.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 3 min.

Here's How:

  1. Starting Position: Sit tall with your legs together, extended straight in front of you. Relax your shoulders.

  2. Keep your chest open and your shoulders rotating back and down as you pull the heels of your hands directly back until you can place your hands flat on the floor with fingertips pointing front.

    Your hands should be directly under your shoulders. You will be leaning back slightly, but keep the integrity of your trunk here. You don't want your ribs to pop forward.


  3. Exhale to lift your pelvis and create a long line, ankle to ear.

    It looks like the project is to get the hips up, which it is, but the tendency is to squeeze the glutes (butt muscles) to do it, which is not quite right. The glutes will engage, but you first need to engage your hamstrings. Then get a balanced muscle activation of the glutes, abdominals, and back extensors to open the hips and stabilize the trunk, making the lift happen all in one piece.

  4. Pause briefly at the top of the move. Enjoy the openness of your chest and hips, and the supported length of your body. Send energy out through the soles of your feet and the top of your head, as well as down into the floor through your hands.

    Mentally scan your body. Are you balanced front and back? Your hips are lifted, but not over extended. Your chest is open, but your ribs are in line with your hips. Your legs are straight, moving into the midline to support the lift, but your knees are not locked.

  5. Inhale to fold just at the hip joint and place your pelvis back on the floor. Keep your shoulders down as you do.

  6. Repeat 4 - 6 times.


  1. It is interesting to contrast this move with plank and leg pull front.
  2. Shoulder stability is such an essential part of this exercise, you might want to review the shoulder stability step-by-step, and the arm reach and pull video.

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