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Pilates: These exercises exist!

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 377 views

In principle, Pilates exercises train the entire body, but primarily the middle of the body. There are now several hundred Pilates exercises that work on the mat, with small aids or on devices. Read here which exercises Pilates beginners do best to start with, which body regions are trained and what the use of different devices brings.

These Pilates exercises are there

You don’t have to be a contortionist or a super athlete to do Pilates . There are a variety of Pilates exercises that you can quickly learn as a beginner without any experience. Ideally, you should learn these under the guidance of an experienced trainer so that no mistakes creep in and the exercise is performed correctly for maximum effect. If the exercises are right, you can train Pilates on your own at home.

There are different exercises in Pilates:

  • Matwork training: You do various exercises on a soft mat, such as a yoga mat. These exercises do not require any additional tools.
  • Training with small equipment: Use small equipment such as a ball, roller or Theraband to help. They improve coordination and fine motor skills.
  • Training with large equipment: Use special large equipment such as the Reformer, Chair, Tower or Cadillac once you have already established good postural stability.


The so-called matwork training, i.e. training on the mat, is a Pilates method that does not require any equipment and is therefore particularly suitable for beginners.

The linchpin of all Pilates exercises is the so-called “powerhouse”. This means the middle of the body, approximately at the level of the navel. It should always be activated when performing the exercise. This means that you pull your navel towards your spine and tense the muscles there – throughout the exercise. In addition, exhale during the strenuous part of the exercise and inhale during the recovery phase. The rhythm of breathing follows that of the exercises.

It’s not important to do as many reps as possible or stretch your body to extremes. Rather, one should pay attention to the flow of movement, the posture and the signals of the body. Below you will find typical beginner exercises.

Activate power house

The classic for beginners is activating the Powerhouse.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, arms resting by your side, thighs locked.
  2. After three breaths, the muscles around the navel, pelvic floor, lower back, and butt contract as if trying to pull the navel toward the spine. The rest of the body, especially the hips and shoulders, should remain unchanged.
  3. Raise your head and shoulders, stretch your arms forward at shoulder height, and exhale. The chin should be kept parallel to the breastbone to relax the neck. During this Pilates exercise, make sure that your stomach does not bulge forward and that you do not slouch.

The Hundred

Assume the following pose: Lie flat on your back, arms stretched out to your sides, palms pressed to the floor. The spine should neither be pressed down nor into a hollow back.

  1. One knee is drawn to the chest, the powerhouse activated, and the shoulders, head, and arms lifted.
  2. Stretch your legs straight up. The feet are stretched, the ankles pressed together.
  3. In this position, the legs are now lowered to a 45 degree angle to the floor
  4. Now it’s time for the arms: move your arms rhythmically with small, quick pumping movements, no higher than 15 centimeters above the floor. Breathe deeply and slowly in and out five times.
  5. With each inhale and exhale, pump up and down five times, so you’ll have completed fifty pumps by the end. As you train, you’ll increase to a hundred pump movements.

roll up

Lie flat on your back and stretch your arms out overhead. Press your legs together and pull your toes straight up.

  1. Raise your outstretched arms until they are perpendicular to your shoulders. Raise your head slightly, chin toward your chest.
  2. Take a deep breath and activate your power house. Slowly straighten your torso by rolling up vertebra by vertebra. In the final position, the fingertips hover over the toes. The head is between the shoulders. The back forms a C-shape.
  3. Then roll vertebra by vertebra back to the starting position. They breathe out. Repeat the exercise three to five times.

Single Leg Circles

Single Leg Circles

Lie flat on your back, arms are stretched out beside your body, neck is stretched out.

  1. With the Powerhouse activated, one leg is pulled up and the foot is placed on the ground.
  2. The other leg is raised vertically (foot stretched and turned slightly outwards).
  3. Inhale and draw five circles clockwise and five counter-clockwise in the air with your leg outstretched. change side.

Wie ein Ball rollen (Rolling like a Ball)

While seated, grasp your shins above your ankles, your feet are pulled towards your buttocks.

  1. The forehead is lowered between the open knees, the body forms a ball.
  2. With the Powerhouse activated, inhale and aim to lower yourself backwards until your shoulders (not your neck or head!) touch the floor.
  3. Return to the starting position and exhale.

Caution: this exercise is not suitable for people with back problems, especially those with scoliosis.

Stretching with one leg (single leg stretch)

Lie in a flat back position, arms resting at your sides, palms facing the floor. The spine is in a natural position, neither down nor straight.

  1. Bend both legs, activate Powerhouse, the neck forms a straight line with the spine.
  2. On an inhale, draw one knee to your chest and grasp it with both hands. It should now point slightly towards the opposite shoulder. The elbows point outwards.
  3. Raise your head and shoulders (keeping your shoulder blades on the floor). The other leg is raised.
  4. Exhale and switch sides. Five to eight repetitions per leg are sufficient.

As a “double leg stretch”, this exercise is performed with both legs at the same time, the knees remain together, the feet are stretched and turned slightly outwards.

Stretching of the spine (Spine Stretch)

e training more intensive, among other things, because the resistance is increased.

Pilates – exercises on large machines

Large devices such as the Reformer, Chair, Tower or Cadillac are only for those who have already built up good postural stability. Basically, regular Pilates exercises with varying (often increased) resistance are performed on such machines. The same is regulated by springs that are tensioned. The muscles are more challenged on the devices, the Pilates exercises are carried out more precisely, the flow of exercises is supported and the level of difficulty can be varied.

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