10 Pilates exercises for beginners to try at home

If you’ve been watching the Pilates wall trend on TikTok, where it has over 7 billion views, and think it might be fun to give it a try, there are plenty of ways to unwind. Even if you’re a Pilates pro, it’s worth starting with the simplest moves first so you can get used to using the wall for support.

Wall Pilates, also known as the workout style taking over FitTok, uses a wall for support as you complete certain moves, similar to a Pilates ball or ring, Helen O’Leary, physical therapist and director of Complete Pilates, he previously told Bustle. The wall helps create extra leverage and support as you perform traditional Pilates exercises, such as glute bridges, lunges and leg circles.

Not only does the wall hold you in a unique way so you can focus on hard-to-reach muscles, it also helps you work on your flexibility and range of motion. Wall Pilates is good like this: According to OLeary, wall support helps you go just a little deeper into your stretches, especially those related to your back and hips.

The best part? All you need is yourself, a mat and a sturdy surface with no other equipment needed. Here’s how to get started with 10 of the easiest moves.

Pilates exercises for beginners

1. Glute bridges

To work your buns, plant your feet hip-width apart on a wall. Keep your arms and neck neutral on the mat as you raise your hips and then lower them again. Repeat for 30 seconds. For a challenge, stop and push up and/or incorporate a resistance band.

2. Push-ups at the wall

For an arm and back workout, press your hands against a wall about shoulder-width apart. Take a step back. (The farther your feet are from the wall, the more challenging it will feel.) Lower yourself toward the wall, keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle. Press against the wall to stand up. Aim for four sets of 10 reps.

3. The wall sits

To improve your posture, work your legs and engage your core, try the wall sit. Lean your back against a wall, then slide your butt down until your knees are bent about 90 degrees. Press your back into the wall and engage your quads, glutes and hamstrings to stay still. Hold anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds and repeat three times.

4. Wall 100s

To work your core, lie on your back at a distance where your feet are just touching the wall. Stretch your arms straight up, take a breath, then exhale as you lower your arms and lift your shoulders off the mat. Stretch your arms towards the wall and start pumping your arms up and down. Inhale for five and exhale for five as you pump. Continue for 10 rounds.

5. Wall bicycle crunches

Forget the reformer and try doing bike crunches using a wall. He slides close, places his feet on the wall, and crunches as you bring an opposite elbow to an opposite knee. Aim for three or four sets of 15.

6. Wall lunges

Stand with the side of your body close to the wall. Keeping one hand on the wall for support, step back with your inside leg, lower down into a lunge, then bring your leg back to start. For a challenge, lift your leg in front of you to waist height. Repeat for 60 seconds on each side.

7. Leg lifts

To focus on your glutes, stand in the center of the mat. Reach forward with both hands to press against the wall. Look down at the floor and maintain a neutral spine as you lift one leg behind you. Focus on squeezing the glute with each rep. Repeat for 60 seconds on each side.

8. Side kicks

In traditional Pilates, side kicks involve lying on your side on a mat. For this version, lean on a diagonal as you lean against the wall. Lift your leg out to the side, making sure you keep your body aligned without sagging in the center. Aim for three sets of eight reps on each side.

9. Circles for the legs

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and about four inches in front of the wall. Press your hips and palms into the wall. Without shifting your weight, lift one leg out in front of you and float it a few inches off the floor. Start drawing small circles with your toes. Trace five times in one direction, then reverse. Repeat on both sides.

10. Roll Down

To stretch your back and wake up your body, stand with your back against a wall and bend your upper body forward. Roll up and repeat.

Studies referred to:

Kloubec, J. (2011). Pilates: how does it work and who is it for? Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. PMID: 23738249; PMCID: PMC3666467.

Tolnai, N. (2016). Physical and psychological benefits of once-weekly Pilates exercises in sedentary young women: A 10-week longitudinal study. Physiol Behavior. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.05.025.

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