Pilates Tips: Our Definitive List (Get More Out of Your Session)
If you want a strong core and lean limbs, Pilates is the workout for you. An occasionally underestimated form of strength-building, Pilates is perfect for creating a stable midsection and an all-round toned physique.
Many people turn to Pilates when they are recovering from an injury. In addition to assisting in reconditioning the weakened area, it also helps protects from future trauma.
While a low-impact form of exercise, a well done session will still leave you feeling pleasantly sore the next day.
Form is everything in Pilates. For guidance on this and much more, check out our list of over 100 convenient Pilates tips.
Best Pilates tips
- Remember! Every single exercise in Pilates is about the power house: your core. So always engage it even when you’re exercising other body parts.
- Don’t forget to tuck your ribcage. This will help to permanently correct your posture and improve your technique during Pilates. This will be easier the stronger your abs get.
- Slow down! The slower you do ab and oblique exercises, the harder you work them.
- During Pilates, always engage the specific muscle group you are trying to work. Think of this as a mental exercise as much as a physical one and over time it will come naturally.
- Hold it! Try to hold the last rep on each Pilates exercise as long as you can to improve strength and stamina.
- When doing squats, keep your knee in line with the ankles to work those glutes. Being able to carry out a squat properly will improve your daily functional pattern.
- While doing Pilates, limit the resting period between your exercises to maximize momentum and make the most of your workout.
- When performing exercises with the head held off the ground, point your chin down toward the chest as if you’re holding an orange there.
- When working on your back, in the majority of Pilate’s exercises, make sure to keep your low back rounded. Do this by “scooping” your lower abs to round the lumbar spine and keep your lower back protected.
- Always make sure your shoulders are anchored down, not up by your ears, during Pilates. Focus on the shoulder blades sliding down your back.
- Throughout the day, practice Pilate’s posterior-lateral breathing where your Transverse Abs pull up, in, and back. This will improve your core support.
Pilates tips for beginners
- During Pilates, focus on controlling your movements, take your time with the exercises and connect to your breath.
- ‘No pain no gain’ is certainly not the Pilates way, and if you are finding an exercise painful you should stop. Some discomfort is likely to be a part of working your body in new ways, but listen to your body, and with attention to detail you will gain!
- Breathe! Always inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, engaging your abs while you do so.
- Be patient! Results in Pilates come from working consistently, and sometimes the exercises you find most difficult may be the best medicine for you, so persevere!
- Don’t rush. Pilates is a slow, flowing exercise: speeding it up will not make it better, in fact, taking more time over an exercise will probably make it feel a bit more challenging and increase its level of difficulty and effectiveness.
- Don’t distract yourself with music. In Pilates, you need to be able to listen to your body’s own rhythm and work with your breathing.
- Stay hydrated! Water keeps your joints lubricated and your muscles functioning optimally, essential for Pilates.
- Start with the basics, no matter what your fitness level is! Even if you have been physically active for a long time, you need to build a solid foundation before you move on to more advanced Pilates exercises.
- Make Pilates part of your day! Perform all daily activities with the muscular and mental control expected in a Pilates session J
- Create length in your body. Try to imagine someone pulling on your arms or legs as you perform the exercises. Elongation of the muscles helps create the unique Pilates body that the Method is so famous for. J
Pilates tips for men
- The best way to start learning about Pilates is by taking classes. You might find that women outnumber you by quite a bit though!
- Use Pilates to increase your flexibility. You might find that your muscles are a little tighter than women’s, especially in the hips and hamstrings, but exercises can be easily modified to allow those areas to stretch out gradually.
- Guys, listen up! When it comes to Pilates, forget the “just power through” attitude that men tend to be used to from gyms. Instead, work on lighter, controlled, well-aligned movements.
- Give Pilates a try! You will develop often neglected muscle groups, those that don’t dominate your daily movements and that don’t get worked in the gym during weightlifting.
- Instead of focusing on defining your six-pack, develop your transverse abdominals by doing Pilates exercises that focus on using your core to power movement in your limbs.
- Stressed about work? Letting your life pass you by? Try Pilates! It forces you to pay attention – you’ve got to focus on your breath while working through each movement and concentrating on proper form. After a session you’ll feel more refreshed, relaxed and present J
- Doing Pilates and it feels like you aren’t doing anything at all? That’s because the movements are incredibly precise. Make sure you get some expert instruction so that you make the right adjustments and it will soon feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done!
- Guys, do you have back pain? Pilates is great rehab post-injury to prevent further injury. Developing more core strength will help protect your lumbar spine and lower back.
- Would you prefer to build long, strong, lean muscles, rather than bulky, jacked-up arms? Pilates can do that for you! Give it a shot J
- Change up your push-ups, the Pilates way! Make sure your head, neck and hips are aligned, and keep your elbows held tightly at your sides as you lower and push back up. Keep going as long as you can J
Pilates tips for women
- Find a Pilates instructor who motivates you to get out the door or turn on a DVD – they will be your best advocate, and will make you more likely to keep doing it J
- Don’t be scared if you shake your way through your first Pilates session and if you feel that you can’t do it properly. Your mind and body will get to grips to it after a few sessions, so just keep persevering!
- Ladies, do you have bad posture? Give Pilates a go and you will see improvements!
- Are you after a flat, toned stomach? Try Pilate’s moves such as the Teaser, the Criss-Cross and Scrambled Eggs. They are exactly what you need J
- To coordinate you’re pelvic and lower back muscles, essential for daily movements, do the Pilates move, Bridge Roll-Up.
- Listen up, ladies! Looking to strengthen your back muscles, glutes and hamstrings? Incorporate the Swimming exercise into your Pilates workout. Lie on your stomach and lower the opposite arm and leg. Lift back up and repeat on the other side.
- A stronger core equals a better back. So if you have chronic lower back pain, try practicing Pilates consistently for a few weeks and your pain should be alleviated.
- As we age, our joints can start to hurt. Pilates has the benefit of being easy on your joints. Even better, use the Pilates reformer, given that the padding is as thick as 10 yoga mats J
- Have you hit a wall in your usual sport or exercise? Start Pilates and strengthen your core, and you’ll be able to run faster, do yoga better, and perform to a higher standard in your chosen sport.
- Ladies! Do you feel tight and inflexible? Pilates can help fix that! When you’re tight, you shorten your muscle and limit your body’s range of motion. Loosen up to improve exercise performance and prevent injury.
Pilates tips for weight loss
- Incorporate Pilates into a well-rounded fitness plan. Add it to your weightlifting and cardio routine and you will see overall better performance as well as weight loss!
- Alternate body parts. When switching from upper to lower body exercises the blood has to travel which increases heart rate and metabolism which burns more calories and can lead to weight loss.
- Be consistent! The more dedicated you are to your Pilates practice, the more visible the results. That is the key to change and to weight loss.
- Looking to lose weight? Do your usual Pilates workout, just at a faster pace. That way, your heart rate will pick up and you’ll burn more calories.
- Fully commit to each and every Pilates exercise! Stretch to your fullest length, breathe deeply, be precise and engage your abs properly. This increases your exertion level and therefore your weight loss potential.
- On a weight loss journey? Give your body new challenges and try adding equipment to your Pilates workouts. That way, you’ll build muscle and strength, which in turn burns a lot of fat. Win-win!
- Are you specifically looking to lose weight through Pilates? Search for a class or DVD that fits your goals and is advertised to boost weight loss.
- They key to weight loss with Pilates is doing it regularly. Even if you only go to a class once a week, do at least 15 minutes a day at home to keep the momentum up.
- For increased fat burning, alternate Pilates exercises with short bursts of high intensity exercise, such as 5 minutes all out on a stationary bike, jumping rope or plyometric moves. For increased fat burning, alternate Pilates exercises with short bursts of high intensity exercise, such as 5 minutes all out on a stationary bike, jumping rope or plyometric moves.
- Resistance training, the essence of Pilates, is scientifically proven to create lean muscle and boost your metabolism to burn calories all day long. So find a Pilates class today!
Pilates and health tips
- Pilates was first designed as a form of rehab, so think of a reformer class as a way to fine-tune your body’s natural movements and perfect your breathing.
- Do Pilates to strengthen your joints and improve your flexibility. This will help to prevent injury during exercise and in your day to day life.
- Because two of the main principles are breathing and concentration, you can use this improved mental fitness to reduce stress levels and increase your overall happiness.
- You should do Pilates to improve your stamina. Because of the flowing sequences of exercises, your muscles are constantly engaged and so you will build up your endurance.
- High blood pressure? Do Pilates! The reduced stress that you’ll experience as a result of Pilates will help lower your blood pressure.
- You should do Pilates regularly to develop functional strength and endurance which can be applied in your daily life.
- Strength should be developed from the inside out and every movement should begin from the core. So…Pilates is the answer! By strengthening your core, you will provide the rest of your body with the stability it needs to function effectively.
- Getting older? Start Pilates to improve your balance and coordination, which tend to deteriorate as you age. Better balance means fewer falls!
- If you tend to slouch and hunch your shoulders, Pilates may be a good solution for you. Pilates makes you more tuned in to your body and will help improve your posture.
- Choose Pilates workouts that work your entire body, alternating between the upper and lower body, so as to boost your metabolism and improve your circulation.
Pilates reformer tips
- When the tension on the reformer is low, make sure to recruit your core stabilizers a lot more, in order to maintain control.
- Use the shorter straps on the reformer to create heavier tension, such as for lower-body or abs-focused moves.
- Use the longer straps on the reformer for more traditional Pilate’s exercises that focus on balance and stability while on the carriage.
- The front platform on the reformer can be used as a stable place for one leg or one arm when doing standing inner thighs, or pistol squats.
- Make sure that if the springs on the reformer are on a heavy setting for a forward lunge, you should be mindful not to let the carriage slam closed. Control during the eccentric part is what produces results.
- You don’t need to make every movement on a reformer a big one. Using a limited range of motion really targets those small, deep muscles that Pilates is known to recruit.
- When using the reformer, remember to breathe fully. Breathe in as you take the carriage out. Exhale as you bring the carriage in.
- Learn how to use a Pilate’s reformer from a qualified instructor before using it alone at home.
- Make sure you wear comfortable clothing when doing Reformer Pilates, as you need to have full range of motion. Also, avoid clothes that are too revealing as you’ll do exercises in various positions J
- Reformer Pilates isn’t a race, so there’s no point in speeding up. When you speed up, your movement changes and become incorrect. Slowing down helps correct bad form. And if your movements are slower, your exercises become more demanding.
Pilates techniques for beginners
- Keep your abdominals engaged! It sounds simplistic, but many people forget this basic fundamental of Pilates. Having your core pulled “in and up” while performing the exercises ensures you are getting the most benefit.
- Be aware of the negative space around you. Center yourself so that there is equal distance on either side of you. Symmetry is crucial to creating a balanced body.
- Use the mirror! The mirror is a tool. Use it. Are you facing square into it? How’s your alignment? You can learn a lot about your body just by watching your movements.
- Make sure you master the basics in Pilates before you advance to engaging your deeper muscles. Otherwise you won’t improve!
- One of the most important techniques in Pilates is breathing. The exercises are done as whole body and mind events, and breathing properly will help connect the two. So make sure you concentrate on your breaths and learn when to inhale and when to exhale.
- To master the C-curve in Pilates, practice exercises such as the spine stretch, supported roll back and roll-up.
- Make sure you understand how execute your C-curve before you start any of the rolling Pilates exercises such as Rolling like a ball, Open leg rocker, or Seal.
- To learn how to maintain a neutral spine during Pilate’s movements, practice lifting one leg up and placing it back down without letting your hips move. This is practical for progressing in Pilates!
- During Pilates, allow your breath to fully expand into the sides and down the back of the body, which will help open and lengthen the back of the body.
- Remember! The pull-in of your core muscles during Pilates movements should not only be from front to back, but also from the sides of the trunk.
Hot Pilates tips
- Heading to a hot Pilates class? Make sure you start hydrating long before class starts, even the day before.
- Top tip! Add some electrolytes to your water during a hot Pilate’s class. It will replace the sodium and potassium lost when you’re sweating in that temperature!
- Your first hot Pilates class? Try not to eat anything for two to three hours before class because it could slow you down and it’s very possible you will feel nausea your first few classes.
- Show up to a hot Pilate’s class with an open mind! If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Give yourself 5 classes to get comfortable as you will be using new muscles in different ways and be prepared to be sore.
- Top tip for hot Pilates classes? Make the most of the high temperatures! Do not be afraid of the heat as it helps detoxification and warms up the muscles.
- For a hot Pilates class wear clothes that are comfortable and move freely, but do not wear baggy clothing. Also, cotton isn’t recommended as you are going to sweat!
- Listen to your body! A hot Pilate’s class can take it out of you, so take a rest or lie down if you need to. Do what works for you in the moment.
- Respect your limits. Although hot Pilates will make your muscles warm, making it easier to stretch them, don’t push too hard. Move slowly and mindfully to a point where your muscles feel challenged, but never stretch to the point of pain.
- You lose as much as 32 ounces of water for every 60 minutes of exercise. Immediately after your hot Pilates class, make sure you drink at least twice that much.
- Make sure you eat a snack or meal that contains both protein and carbohydrates within an hour of finishing your hot Pilates class.
Pilates teacher tips
- New to teaching Pilates? Make sure you use props as tools, not crutches. Equipment should be used to enhance a client’s awareness and connection to their body, not replace it.
- Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. Pilates is a mind-body discipline. Repeating exercises with your clients for many weeks teaches them correct form and how to deepen their mind-body connection while moving.
- Make sure you balance your exercises that you make your clients do. In fact, balance should be your mantra, so be sure to teach stabilization, extension, rotation, and flexion in as many planes as possible.
- The most important quality that you must have as a new teacher is confidence. You must take charge of the session from beginning to end with your voice, pacing, and body language.
- Top tip for Pilate’s teachers! Make connections with your clients. It will keep them coming back…they want to like you as a person aside from just liking your teaching skills.
- Find ways to keep yourself interested in what you are teaching. Attend a professional workshop, read trade and fitness magazines; try something new – it will give your teaching a different perspective.
- During a client’s first session, make sure you mention the importance of breathing in Pilates and introduce lateral breathing, but try not to make too much of it in the first lesson. You don’t want to force it, you want it to develop naturally for your clients.
- Do you have clients trying Pilates for the first time? A great way to start is to do a Roll-down. Assess posture and evaluate movement, but try not to go into too much technical detail at this stage. This can be saved for later sessions.
- As a teacher, you should make your clients aware of where their Transversus Abdominis are and the importance of “scooping”. Keep it simple and you can even use images to convey the information.
- Never ever forget to lead your clients through the basic warm-up sequence, both for their benefit and yours. It will give you a great deal of information about the client’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses.