Free Pilates Exercises

Tamsen Butler
Free Pilates Exercises

There are many different free Pilates exercises to try out in the comfort of your home. Start out with a few basic moves and then use free videos online to really work your body and gain some additional Pilates expertise.

Sculpt Your Body With Pilates Exercises

For the first two of these exercises, you will need an exercise mat. While a yoga mat may be sufficient, a mat designed for Pilates will provide more cushioning, which is particularly beneficial in moves where your spine pushes into the ground.

Roll-ups

Roll-ups are a good substitute for abdominal crunches. To do them, follow these steps:

Pilates Roll Ups
  1. Lie down on the mat in the Pilates posture, except put your feet together and point your toes.
  2. Keeping your arms straight, move them back until your hands are above your head. Stretch out your fingers like you're trying to touch the wall behind you.
  3. Put your chin into your chest and begin to roll up, letting your arms naturally reach forward. Do not untuck your abdominals. Your spine will begin to curve when you get to the point where your fingers point to the wall in front of you.
  4. To roll back down, simply reverse the motion. Let your back reconnect with the mat one vertebrae at a time. When your shoulders hit the mat, raise your arms back to your starting position. Untuck your chin last.
  5. Repeat the exercise six times. Don't use momentum to roll yourself up. Instead, use the muscles of your core.

Standing Rolls

Like roll-ups, standing rolls target your core muscles, giving you a stronger body overall.

Pilates Standing Roll
  1. Face away from the wall at about a one-inch distance from it. Lean until your back and shoulders are on the wall with your feet still away from it.
  2. Lift your arms straight above your head with your fingers meeting at the center line of your body.
  3. Roll down as far as possible without losing your connection with the wall at your hips and buttocks.
  4. Roll up one vertebra at a time. Then repeat the exercise seven more times.

Criss Cross Crunch

Criss crosses work the obliques, the muscles on the sides of the abs to help improve that hourglass shape. They are similar to a movement called "the bicycle" that you may remember from elementary school.

Pilates Criss Cross Crunch
  1. Lie down on your mat as in the first step of the roll-up.
  2. Bend your hips and knees so that they both form right angles and put your hands behind your head with your elbows out to the sides.
  3. Lift up your chin and shoulders as you lift your head off the mat until your neck is at the same level as your shoulder blades.
  4. Extend one leg so that it makes a 45-degree angle to your core. At the same time, pull the opposite leg in toward your chest. Tilt your upper body towards the bent leg without dropping your head.
  5. Return your body to center, and then repeat the movement on the other side.

Arch Lifts

This exercise targets the arches of the feet and is a small movement.

Pilates Arch Lift
  1. Stand with your feet close and parallel to each other.
  2. Keeping your toes and your heels on the ground, and without scrunching your toes, pull the ball of your feet toward your heels. Allow your arches to lift slightly while you do this.
  3. Hold the lift for five seconds and repeat it 6 times. Lift the arches of both feet at once.

Toe Taps

This exercise targets the muscles in the lower abs.

Pilates Toe Taps
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and drawn up toward your stomach. Your knees should form a 90-degree angle, with your shins parallel to the ground.
  2. Lower one foot slowly to tap your toes gently onto the ground, hinging at the hip to lower the foot down. Your knee stays bent.
  3. Lift the foot back up and drop the other foot. Alternate between tapping the right toes down, followed by the left, and repeat.
  4. Control these movements and keep them slow. This shouldn't be a quick, swinging exercise but rather a slow, methodical movement.
  5. Aim for around 60 seconds of toe taps.

Single Leg Circles

The hip flexors and abs are put the test in this exercise.

Pilates Leg Circles
  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Bend your left knee and put your left foot on the ground.
  3. Extend your right leg straight up toward the ceiling.
  4. Slowly move the right leg as though you're drawing a circle in the sky. Keep this movement slow and controlled.
  5. Make 5 to 6 circles in one direction, then reverse into the other direction. Keep your leg straight if possible, but bending your knee is fine if you feel more comfortable.
  6. Switch legs to repeat Step 5 with your left leg.

Free Pilates Video Workouts

Numerous free Pilates videos are online, but if you try a workout from someone who doesn't know what they're doing, you can risk injury, or at the very least, you might reduce the effectiveness of the moves by doing them wrong. Below is a brief selection of some good options for free online Pilates workouts.

Total Body Pilates for Beginners

A 20 minute Pilates workout that's a great choice for beginners, this workout from PsycheTruth helps target the lower body.

Ultimate Pilates 21-Day Challenge

A great option for someone wanting a program to follow for a few weeks, this workout from Boho Beautiful targets the abs and glutes.

Hard Core Pilates

This brief video gives a taste of the Hard Core Pilates series from Wundabar Pilates. It's a good way to try out a Pilates workout that's a little more difficult to see if you're ready for more.

When Doing Pilates

With basic moves and a selection of online videos, you can sculpt your whole body with Pilates. Incorporate a healthy diet and cardio for best results. When you're ready for more, consider stepping up your Pilates practice to try a Reformer or even a Pilates chair. It's normal to tire when performing these exercises, but you should not experience pain. If you do, consult a doctor. You may need to make modifications.

Free Pilates Exercises