6 Powerhouse Pilates Moves to Kick Off 2020

Strengthen and tone your body from head to toe with these solid Pilates exercises — no equipment necessary!
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Think you need a pricey gym membership to achieve the performance and physique you desire? Think again! All you need is a little floor space and you can strengthen your entire body with these six simple Pilates moves, courtesy of MNTSTUDIO founder Elaine Hayes. String them all together for a full-body blast, or pick and choose depending on the area you’re targeting.

Mermaid Teaser

How-To:

  • Lie on your right side with your right arm extended in front of you and your top arm up by your ear. Pitch your legs slightly forward and squeeze your inner thighs together.
  • Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, roll onto your right glute while you lift your chest and legs. Reach your left arm toward your feet.
  • Inhale to come back down the same way you come up, carefully lying back down on your side.
  • Repeat on the second side, perform 12 to 16 times on each side.

Technique/Form Notes:

  • This move is a killer for the obliques and challenges your coordination and balance.
  • The key is to go slowly and breathe. Imagine a “ta-da” moment when you reach the top — think of lifting your chest proudly.

To modify: Bend your knees on the way up. This helps reduce the stress on your hips and lower back.

To advance: Lift both arms up as you come into the move.

Swimming

How-To:

  • Lie on your belly with your arms, chest and legs lifted, arms reaching forward and legs reaching back.
  • Keeping your breath continuous as you flutter-kick your arms and legs.
  • Do six to eight breaths 12 to 16 times.

Technique/Form Notes:

  • Press your pubic bone into the mat to protect you lower back.
  • Make sure the back of your neck stays long and crease-free.

Clams

How-To:

  • Lie on your side with your right elbow down and your head in your hand, left hand on your hip. Bend your knees and line your feet up underneath your hips. Now, keeping your feet together, lift them up about 6 inches off the mat.
  • Lift and lower your top knee 20 times. On the final lift, hold your leg lifted and pulse up 20 times.
  • Repeat on the second side, and perform 20 on each side.

Technique/Form Notes:

  • This one’s an oldie but a goodie! It might look simple, but your gluteus medius will be burning up a storm by rep 20.
  • Make sure you keep your hips perfectly stacked.
  • Keep your waist lifted. Imagine there’s a fire on your mat and you’re trying not to burn the side of your waist!

Single-Leg Stretch

How-To:

  • Lie on your back with your head and shoulders curled up, your hands on your right shin and your elbows wide. Pull your right leg into tabletop while your left leg is reaching forward and straight.
  • Exhale and then switch sides. Inhale in the middle, then exhale as you pull your leg in each time.
  • Perform 12 to 16 times on each side.

Technique/Form Notes:

  • This move is a killer and will target the lowest, below-the-bellybutton abs.
  • Keep your lower back completely glued to the mat throughout this exercise.
  • If you notice your back arching, lift your straightened leg a bit higher.
  • The lower you go, the harder — so you decide how low to go!

Double-Leg Stretch

How-To:

  • Lie on your back with your head and shoulders curled up and your hands on your shins, elbows wide, pulling both knees in toward your chest.
  • Inhale to reach your legs long and arms back. Exhale to return to the starting position.
  • Perform the move 12 to 16 times.

Technique/Form Notes:

  • Try to keep the depth of your ab curl even as you reach your arms back.
  • Keep your lower back completely glued to the mat throughout this exercise.
  • If you notice your back arching, reach your legs at a higher angle.

Triceps Push-Up

How-To:

  • Come to a kneeling plank with your knees hip-width apart, hands directly under your shoulders, belly engaged and feet pulled up toward your seat.
  • Inhale to bend your elbows straight back, lowering your whole body in a straight line.
  • Exhale to press up to the starting position.
  • Perform the move 15 to 20 times.

Technique/Form Notes:

  • Make sure you engage your core the whole time to avoid arching your back.
  • Keep your elbows tucked in tight by your sides so you target your triceps.
  • If this feels too challenging, reduce the range of motion.