How to do Pilates at home

21 November, 2023 / words by IALH Editor

Where was it stated that as a total beginner to Pilates, the best place to begin your journey is at the gym or a fitness studio? It’s actually entirely possible to do Pilates at home as a beginner and excel at it.

Get ready to know how to do Pilates at home as a total beginner, the suitable exercises, and more.

3 Benefits of Pilates at Home

Just as there are benefits of Pilates at the gym or studio, so are there benefits of having Pilates exercises at home. Here are three key benefits to back up this claim


Exercising Pilates at home is one of the best ways to save costs and still achieve your goal. By exercising at home, you are saving the money that would have been spent on traveling to and from a class, paying the costly gym or studio membership fees, and other recurring expenses.

Flexibility and Convenience

Aside from the cost-effectiveness associated with doing Pilates at home, another significant benefit is its flexibility and convenience. You get to exercise at a time of your choice and your own convenience.

Customized Workout Experience

Pilates at home allows you to tailor your Pilates routine to suit your needs and pace. Due to the use of instructional materials, you can set it to your level, pause and rewind the class to get a better understanding of the pose or try to do it again, have breaks whenever you want, and do part of the class and return to it at a later time.

How to Do Pilates at Home for Beginners

Starting with Pilates as a beginner involves understanding the foundational exercises and techniques, thereby setting a strong foundation for more advanced movements.

10 Basic Pilates at Home Exercises for Beginners

There are so many Pilates at-home exercises suitable for beginners, but as a start, here are ten basic Pilates at-home exercises beginners should start with.

The Hundred

The hundred Pilates exercise is one of the first exercises beginners must do. 

How to do the Hundred Pilates exercise

  • Lay flat on your back and place your palm face down and arms long on the mat.
  • Bend your knees up to your chest. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat towards your knees.
  • Stretch out your legs to a high diagonal at a 45-degree angle or 90 degrees.
  • Breathe in. Breathe out. Lift up your arms and begin to pump them up and down. 
  • While pumping your arms, breathe in for five seconds or pulses and breathe out for five seconds or pulses. That is one cycle. Do that ten more times, leading to a total of 100.

The Roll-Up

This is the next in line after completing the hundred Pilates exercises.

How to do the Roll-Up Pilates exercise

  • Lay flat on your back with your legs tightly stretched out straight. 
  • Raise your arms above your head with your palm facing up.
  • Breathe in and lift your head, neck, shoulders, and arms.
  • Breathe out and raise your spine off the mat, vertebra by vertebra. Continue going forward until you are sitting and your arms reach your toes to form a “C.”
  • Breathe in while gently going back down so your spine and back meet the mat.
  • Continue this process three to ten times.

The Saw

This Pilates exercise focuses on breathing and targets the shoulders, back, and core muscles.

How to do the Saw Pilates exercise

  • Breathe in and sit up straight. Open your legs mat-width apart.
  • Spread your arms horizontally, palms, and shoulder blades down.
  • Breathe out and turn your shoulders, arms, and torso to the left. Keep moving until your fingertips touch your toes.
  • Breathe in as you sit back in your original position in the center.
  • Breathe out and repeat the same process, this time turning to the right.
  • Keep switching sides and do this procedure six times on each side.

The Swan

The Swan Pilate exercise focuses on strengthening the muscles in the back, spine, buttocks, and back of the legs.

How to do the Swan Pilates exercise

  • Lay flat with your stomach touching the mat. Open your legs slightly.
  • Place your palms by your chest or beside your face with your elbows bent.
  • Using your palms and the strength of your mid and lower-back muscles, breathe in and slowly lift your head and upper body off the mat. Continue lifting until your arms are straight, your head, chest, and upper abdomen are off the mat, and your back is arched.
  • Breathe out, drop your shoulders, and look straight.
  • Breathe in and slowly go back down to the mat. 
  • Do this procedure six times.

Expert advice: Especially for women, do not stay in the swan pose for a long period. Pilates experts recommend starting with small timeframes.

The Side Kick

The sidekick exercise focuses on the hip muscles and outer thighs. 

How to do the Side Kick Pilates exercise

  • Lay on your side, either your right or left side. Ensure your legs are straight and on top of each other. Also, let the top of your hand support your head. 
  • Breathe in and lift the top leg to hip height. Ensure your body is kept in a straight line. 
  • Breathe out and slowly bring your leg back down without letting it rest completely on the other leg.
  • Do this procedure several times before turning to the other side.

The Double Leg Stretch

This Pilates exercise is highly beneficial for lower body workout and focuses on building core strength.

How to do the Double Leg Pilates exercise

  • Lay flat on your back on the mat. Bend your knees and bring them towards your chest.
  • Breathe in and out and lift your head, neck, and shoulders,
  • Breathe in and straighten your legs to an angle of 45 degrees. For your hands, raise them overhead.
  • Breathe out, breathe in, and move your arms in a circle and bring them to hug your knees into your chest. 
  • Breathe out, bring your hand back to its original position, and repeat.

The Single Leg Circle

The single-leg circle focuses on strengthening the pelvic floor, core, and hip flexors.

How to do the Single Leg Circle

  • Lie on your back and place your arms by the side of your body.
  • Breathe out and bring your left knee to your chest, then breathe in and slowly straighten your leg. 
  • Breathe out and rotate your leg in a circular motion without moving your hips. 
  • Continue the process five to eight times and switch to the other leg.

The Spine Stretch

This exercise focuses on the flexibility and mobility of the spine.

How to do the Spine Stretch

  • Sit with your legs extended wider than shoulder-width apart, and flex your feet.
  • Breathe in and lift your arms to shoulder height in front of you.
  • Breathe out as you hinge forward from your hips, reaching your arms towards your feet. This creates a large “C” curve.
  • Breathe in to go back up to a seated position.
  • Repeat the process three to five times

Note: This exercise may not be suitable for those with back pain  

The Open Leg Rocker

This exercise focuses on building core strength and balance.

How to do the Open Leg Rocker

  • Sit tall on the mat, your back straightened.
  • Balance yourself on your tailbone, extend your legs, and lift them slightly off the ground. You can keep lifting your leg until you are in a V-position.
  • Breathe in and rock backward, rolling onto your upper back or shoulder blades.
  • Breathe out as you rock forward, finding balance on your tailbone.
  • Repeat this process six to ten times.

The Corkscrew

The corkscrew focuses on spinal articulation and core stability.

How to do the Corkscrew

  • Lie on your back with arms by your sides and legs extended towards the ceiling.
  • Breathe in and circle your legs to one side in a controlled motion.
  • Breathe out and circle them back up and over to the opposite side.
  • Repeat the procedure five times.

Note: Start small and gradually increase the repetitions and duration as soon as you are comfortable with the movements and poses.

How to Do Pilates at Home Without Equipment

Many people wonder about how to do Pilates at home without equipment and if it’s possible. The truth is that it is. All you need is a Pilates or Yoga mat, and you’re good to go.

Is Pilates without Equipment Effective?

The answer to this is yes. Just as Pilates done with equipment is effective, so is it effective without equipment. In fact, it can be argued by many Pilates exercisers that practicing Pilates without using equipment can be more challenging than using equipment, but at the same time, more rewarding.

How to Do Wall Pilates at Home

Wall Pilates is a low-impact technique that is suitable for beginners. It involves using the wall as a support system to do the simplest Pilates exercises or add uniqueness and variety to them.

To do wall Pilates at home, all you need to do is balance yourself on the wall and begin your workout. Most wall Pilates, especially for beginners, involve standing; however, some involve lying down using the wall.

Twelve Wall Pilates Exercises for Beginners

Here are some suggested wall Pilates exercises and workouts for beginners at home. The prop? The wall, a mat, and you.

  • Glute Bridges
  • Wall Push-ups
  • Wall Sits
  • Wall 100s
  • Wall Bicycle Crunches
  • Wall Lunges
  • Leg Lifts
  • Side Kicks
  • Leg Circles
  • Roll Downs
  • Roll-Up Into Bridge
  • Wall Sit and Calf Raise

One of the most significant benefits of wall Pilates is that you can focus on hard-to-reach muscles, especially the back and hip muscles. Other benefits include the development of balance, body control, flexibility, stability, mobility, and core strength.

28-Day Wall Pilates Challenge

The 28-day wall Pilates challenge is one of the most innovative fitness programs for beginners looking to get started with wall Pilates. 

To get started on the 28-day wall Pilates challenge, search for Rachel’s Fit Pilates on YouTube and look for the 28-Day Wall Pilates Challenge playlist. On the other hand, you can download the wall Pilates app to get started on the 28-day wall Pilates challenge. 

How to Do Pilates at Home for Weight Loss

While Pilates may not be a high-impact calorie-burning exercise, it can contribute to weight loss indirectly by increasing muscle tone and boosting metabolism.

Best Pilates Workout for Weight Loss

Here are ten best at home Pilates workout for weight loss

  • Pilates Push-ups
  • Plank Jacks
  • Pilates Swimming
  • The Swan
  • V-Ups
  • Crisscross
  • Leg Pull-Up
  • Corkscrew
  • Kneeling Side Kicks
  • The Seal

These exercises are perfect for beginners and can easily be done at home. With the right techniques and postures, you are sure to burn some calories. 

Safety Precautions for Doing Pilates at Home

Ensuring your safety while practicing Pilates at home is essential. Here are some of the safety precautions to take note of:

  • Consult a Professional
  • Start Slow
  • Listen to your body

Note: Your body knows how much it can handle. Don’t overexert yourself. Stop as soon as you start feeling pain or discomfort.

Modifications for Doing Pilates at Home

As a beginner, it is important you know how to tweak some of the exercises. It is recommended that you consult with a fitness instructor to help with customized modifications for doing Pilates at home.

Pilates Workout at Home: Closing Thoughts

Beginning your Pilates journey at home can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Best of all, you don’t need experience or advanced equipment to start.

Note: Ensure you pace yourself and are committed and consistent in your Pilates journey to reap the numerous benefits of this exercise form.


IALH Editor


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