8 Pilates Moves to Help You Get a Leaner Body!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
My first exposure to Pilates was in summer of the 2009, but since I was in the midst of training for my first marathon, I found I did not have the time or the energy to devote to attending a weekly class. But the few months that I did participate in Pilates, I grew to have a deep appreciation for this amazing workout. I knew it would be just a matter of time before I found myself back in the Pilates studio.

This year in my quest to bringing more balance in my life I took up Pilates once again. My class is a combination of workouts where half the class is done on the mat and the other half is done on the Pilates Reformer.

What I love about Pilates is the focus and concentration one must have when doing the exercises. Because Pilates focuses on the abdominal and back muscles, also known as the core, it makes a great addition to my current workout routine which includes running, spinning and kettlebells. Pilates also helps with pelvic stabilization, flexibility, strength, as well as postural alignment, with an added bonus in helping one obtain better mind/body awareness. And because you do very few repetitions and do not take the muscles to full fatigue, Pilates can be done on a daily basis.

While many people equate Pilates to the reformer, I have received some really great benefits doing my mat exercises, especially at home. Below are links to some of my favorite mat Pilates movements.

Abs, Obliques


Core, Inner and Outer Thigh

Side Leg Circles

Abs, Back, Quads

Leg Pull Front

Toe Dips

Leg Circles

Triceps, Biceps, Core, Butt, Hamstrings, Back

Donkey Kickbacks

Lower Abs

Single Leg Stretch


Back Extension

Check out the links below for some of Coach Nicole's favorite Pilates workout routines.

Intro to Pilates

12-Minutes Pilates Abs Workout

10-Minutes Pilates Hips and Thighs Workout

Have you ever participated in a Pilates class? Do you prefer the mat or the reformer, or both? If you have never practiced Pilates, would these exercises encourage you to do so?

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JULIJULINN 2/24/2021
Who knew??! Report
PLCHAPPELL 12/19/2020
Good set Report
OPIUMDOLL 10/22/2020
I know this may sound really silly, but could you guys please always include photos with those links? It could be leading us to something we don't wish to see (a wrong pose! or exercise.. you know?) thank you - the list however is great. thank you. Report
NASFKAB 10/16/2020
Great post Report
GO_GAL_GROW 9/24/2020
Reformer Report
PATRICIAANN46 8/27/2020
Thank You.............. Report
VHAYES04 7/16/2020
Ty Report
Great article. Thanks for sharing. Report
thank you Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
thanks Report
I'm going to have to try this. Report
I do Reformer Pilates. Does anyone know if that counts as a strength workout? I'm trying to figure out if it's ok to do Reformer Pilates one day and weights the next day. Report
I enjoy a few different types of pilates Report
Love pilates! Report
I am very excited about giving Pilates a try. I have had a total knee replacement, and I really need something that does not require a lot of bouncing around. Report
Pilates exercises keep your body LEAN! Pilates literally lengthens the muscle to the bone, which is why you never see a "bulky" Pilates trainer or client if they are keeping up with their workouts. Your body is letting go of all that tight muscle tension which is why it becomes leaner. It’s so important to keep up with these types of resistance-training workouts so you can stay fit and trim! For maximum results I always recommend switching up your workouts! (Confuse the muscles!) Try different classes, add an additional reformer session or Power Plate session in your routine....most important EAT CLEAN!
www.marinaj.net / Report
Reformer, Tower, and Chair Pilates is my current favorite of exercises. I always swore I'd never take a mat class, but it was just as good as the equipment classes. Report
I love yoga, so know I would love pilots. I have done a few of the poses over the yrs. I find it a bit more difficult than yoga, trying to hold the poses and moving your hands and legs at the same time. It is a challenge. Report
I have gone to a couple of classes and just love pilates. I love the challenging moves Report
I love the strength of Pilates but don't do it nearly as often as I should. I have only done it on the mat. I just wishI could do some of the poses! Anything where you have to sit on your rear and lean back while lifting up your feet I can't do because it makes my tailbone start to feel like it's going to push through my skin. Ouch! Report
I've never taken a class, but I do a lot of these as my core exercises. Report
I am a Pilate trainer,in my experience so many people have a geat benefits after the Pilate training. Report
i love pilates, have been doing it once a week for almost 2 years now. it really helped me get in better shape post-baby. Report
I love these exercises and will come back to this list! Thanks!! Report
The pilates exercise, The Hundred, is simply the yoga pose Navasana with rapid Kapalabhati breathing for 100 counts, which amplifies the toning and purification [kriya] effects of the Navasana pose. After several years of practice, my Navasana with Kapalabhati breathing for 100 counts (no pilates arms) is still a killer ...
The Double-Leg raise (for slow, isokinetic counts each up and down) is simply the yoga pose Utthita Prasarita Padasana. But I now do it for two sets of 9 up/down. Another killer ... The Master Swami once told me that you are very advanced if you can do only 4 up/down in a minute's time ... not quite there yet; and I kinda lost my stopwatch for stretching a while back, so I couldn't tell how I'm doing anyway .... Report
I love Pilates on the reformer! I seem to be able to exercise core muscles that I have not been able to reach any other way! I also do mat and pole Pilates occasionally, but the reformer is my fav. Report
I've done pilates mat classes and I've had personal training sessions on a reformer. I do miss working on a reformer. that was a marvelous core workout.

I started doing a weekly course back in January - new year, new gym membership etc etc.. - and I love it. We only do mat work there but that means I can do it at home between classes. I'm also training for a 10k and have found the added strength is really helping my running. I feel strong and leaner than before. I used to get back pain from running but I haven't suffered from that recently (fingers crossed I haven't just jinxed myself!). The great thing about the classes is that they're mixed ability so everyone can work at their own pace/level. Report
I did pilates many years ago. Saved this to my faves and will use the floor moves. Report
I plan on trying this kind of exercise. I have rheumatoid arthritis and feel maybe this would give me strength and flexablility Report
I trained on the reformer for about 2 years with an instructor and it is very good for flexibility. I've never experienced the mat work. I did buy an "at home" reformer but it doesn't compare to a real model and I don't really use it - it isn't challenging enought. Report
I own a Pilates machine and love it! Report
I've done the mat but haven't kept at it. Never done the reformer. Report
No, not yet. Report
I love the reformer, but can do with out the mat. Can't recommend just one exercise since they all work together to complete a workout. Report
Thank you for posting these exercises - it's good to get useful ones from another runner too. Thanks again :) Report
Pilates is a take off from YOGA which doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment. I realize when Joseph Pilates started his exercises for bedridden soldiers that he was doing physical therapy for them. All such exercise has benefit, especially as we get older. Report
At least there isn't any thing in this article about pilates being relaxing. Also, a free site for pilates workouts: www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com Report
I love working out on the Reformer. I want to get one for home use. I do have some DVD mat exercises that I haven't made use of. This article has inspired me to get them out and try them. Report
I love both kinds of pilates. I have been practicing mat pilates for years. I recently discovered reformer pilates and love the extra stretch and challenge it gives. I encourage others to try pilates....purchasing some discounted classes through Groupon, Living Social,etc. would be a great way for folks to try a few classes... Report