Health Fitness

Pilates Exercises for the Intermediate Level

Welcome to this series of intermediate Pilates exercises for all Pilates practitioners/people who have been exercising regularly and are strong enough to go to the next level. Remember to keep the basic principles of Pilates active throughout these exercises. Stick with doing just a few reps but in great shape instead of a lot of rushed, random but less than perfect shape. Happy Pilates workout!


Lie on your stomach with your legs together and straight. Keeping your shoulder blades toward your hips, shoulders away from your ears, stretch your arms above your head. Contract your abs to lift your belly button up and away from the floor. Reaching from the center of you, extend your arms and legs so far in opposite directions that they naturally rise off the ground. Build spinal length by lifting your head off the mat while keeping your face facing the mat. Alternate right arm/left leg, then left arm/right leg lift for a count of 5 inhalations and 5 exhalations. Continuously move in this way as if you were swimming on the mat.

the plank

Start on your knees and walk your hands across the floor, allowing your legs to stretch out behind you. Place your forearms parallel to each other on the floor, your hands in fists. Your shoulders should be directly over your elbows. Lift your belly up and off the ground as you extend your spine so it’s extra long. It’s important to keep pressure off your lower back by lifting your lower abs. Keep your shoulders wide and make sure your shoulders are away from your ears. Your neck is a long extension of your spine, so your head is not drooping or tilted up. Breathe deeply as you hold the pose for 30 seconds.

Lie on your back with your legs straight. Relax your shoulders and keep them away from your ears. Bring your arms straight over your head and behind you so that your fingertips point toward the wall behind you. Inhale as you raise your arms above your ears, allowing your chin to drop toward your chest, head and upper spine curling up and off the mat. As you exhale, continue in a smooth motion to curve your entire body in an “up and over” motion toward your toes. Contract your abs and deepen the curve of your spine as you reach toward your toes with your fingertips. To reverse the curve, inhale as you contract your lower abs, reaching your tailbone and unroll, vertebra by vertebra. About halfway through, exhale to continue placing one vertebra after another on the mat. Maintain the curve of your upper body as you lower yourself slowly, with control. The arms are still extended and follow the natural movement of the shoulders as you roll down.

open leg rocker

Sit tall on your seat bones with your knees bent so you can grab your ankles. Balancing between your hamstrings and tailbone, keep your abs engaged as you lift and extend one leg, then the other, shoulder-width apart in front of you. On the inhale, use a deep scoop of your abs and the fullness of your inhale to propel your twist back onto your shoulders. Stay in your C-curve as you roll, keeping your head and neck off the mat. Pause before exhaling and return using your abdominal muscles to return to the upright position.

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