5 Pilates Moves, One Total-Body Workout

May 18, 2017 //

Need a quick, easy, full-body Pilates workout that doesn’t take too much time? This total-body Pilates routine combines just five, highly-effective motions to engage all muscle groups — especially the core. Add weights to this Pilates workout for the best sculpting results.

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1. Roll-Up

Always start with a brief stretch before jumping into the motions. Warm up your muscles and core by beginning the routine with a roll-up.

  • Start on the floor with your back flat to the ground
  • Relax your arms high overhead with a stretch and hold feet together (inhale)
  • Begin the roll-up by squeezing your core and lifting the shoulders off the ground
  • Reach the arms forward over your legs and reach for the feet (exhale)

The roll-up acts as a great strength training exercise for the arms, abs, and core, especially when you add dumbbells into the mix. Some say one roll-up is equivalent to six traditional sit-ups, so up to 20 reps should do it.

2. Saw

Continue with this same motion into the “Saw.” The Saw engages the core while also working the back and shoulders with a twisting motion and either side of the abs known as the obliques.

  • Sit on the floor and form a “V” with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width
  • Relax your arms horizontal with your shoulders on either side of your chest (inhale)
  • Start with your chest and back tall
  • Pull your chest and head forward over the left leg and reach with the right (exhale)
  • Relax back to the floor (inhale)
  • Repeat reaching the left arm out over the right leg (exhale)
  • *Pinky finger touches the pinky toe, with head gently gazing back at the opposite arm

The saw helps to relieve back muscle strain and improves the posture. In order to increase the intensity, adopt a quicker pace and deeper stretch over the leg. Do 20 times on each side.

3. Scissor Kicks

The next sequence is Scissor Kicks one of the most effective ways to add leg strengthening to the routine. Scissor kicks are great for engaging all muscle groups of the legs, including the hamstrings and quads.

  • Start lying on your back with hands on the floor on either side of the hips for stability
  • Squeeze your legs up to 90 degrees with the floor
  • Begin by lowering one leg at a time and squeezing the other toward you
  • Alternate with a kick on each leg
  • *Larger kicks are easier than small controlled kicks

Scissor Kicks engage the legs and also work the glutes and obliques. For a more intense workout, add a small exercise ball beneath you while performing these kicks. Complete this exercise for a full minute.

4. Teaser

At the height of the routine, jump into the Teaser to engage the core for total body Pilates. The Teaser is a great exercise for building a strong “powerhouse.”

  • Start by lying flat on the floor with arms at your sides
  • Lift from the core to pull your chest and shoulders off the ground (exhale)
  • Bring arms forward, as you lift the legs high and hold at the top
  • Relax back to flat lying position, and repeat (inhale)
  • Pull from the core as your bring your chest and legs up again
  • With arms on either side of the hips, pump for 10 counts (exhale)
  • Do this movement 20 times.

The Teaser is a great move for near the end of your full-body Pilates workout,  when your muscles are good and warm.

5. Swimming

End the routine with some swimming. This helps to build strong back and shoulder muscles, while improving flexibility.

  • Start by lying flat on your stomach
  • Stretch the arms out high overhead and straighten your legs
  • Lift through the core to bring feet and chest off the ground and flutter your arms and legs.
  • Do 20 reps.