Free online Pilates lessons for core exercises and home workouts

The Complete Pilates Mat Routine:
Quick Guide


I use this in my high intensity Pilates workout because I move without pause for 30 minutes and often can't remember exactly what comes after what! You'd think after so many years I'd know it by heart, but over 50 exercises still gets me mixed up when I'm going fast! So feel free to copy this for yourself. I just quickly glance at the bold headings - that's all I need. This list also doubles as a guide for students to jog their memory about certain exercises. 


- Long neck
- Comfortable position of your legs – no unnatural stance
- Engage your core throughout each exercise
- Breathe (exhale on exertion) – the bigger your breathing the better
- Find a brisk pace – not too fast and not too slow - slower is better
- Workout at least 3 times per week with a day of rest between
- 3-6 reps of all exercises except “The 100”
- Exercises that call for your arms by your side, press them into the mat during the exercise
- Be precise, fluid, and controlled in all movement – no sharp, harsh movements
- Once a week mix it up by varying the reps or the order of the exercises
- Stretch your body with a brief cat stretch before each pose and take a deep breath or two
- Once a week use ankle and wrist weights, or hold free weights throughout the entire routine,     or try the best new Pilates products such as the Tye4 at
- Use Pilates principles in your daily life: feel a long neck as you drive or as you sit at your     desk;
    feel the Pilates stance as you wait in line or stand in the shower…
- Add cardio by eliminating rest between poses

- If it hurts don’t do it. Contact me and we’ll find a variation that work for you 
- The 100 may be used as a warm-up, particularly at advanced levels
The 100 – lower legs as close to the floor as you can and still keep the small of the back in contact with the mat. Legs and arms straight, head and shoulders off the mat, breathe deeply. Goal: legs are 6-8” off mat for entire 100. Advanced: find your own natural breathing pattern since the inhale/exhale pattern is rarely if ever a 5/5 count – for example: inhale for 3 or 4 pumps, exhale for 6 or 7 instead of the inhale on 5 and exhale on 5 that I mention for simplicity sake.                 

Leg Circles – legs and arms straight, one leg up, reaching and circling, lower leg straight on floor, long neck, arms pressing into mat. Exhale as you lift the leg.                                                                                                   
Sit Ups (Rolling Up) – arms straight over the head, flex your feet and inhale as you roll      up your spine, exhale as you roll over your knees and stretch your arm long. Now inhale as you point your feet and sit up then exhale as you roll down your spine

Block of Five
    Single Leg Stretch – outside arm guides ankle, inside arm guides knee. Advanced: knee     to chin.

    Double Leg Stretch – shoot arms straight overhead as legs shoot straight out (inhale),     arms circle around as you bend knees (exhale). Advanced: knees to chin.

    Criss Cross – opposite elbow to opposite knee. Advanced: other leg straight, other elbow     touch mat.

    Single Straight Leg Stretch – on back, one leg straight up, other leg straight and on mat.     Pull  leg toward you twice and inhale. Switch legs while exhaling.

    Double Straight Leg Stretch – on back, both legs straight up. Lower legs only so far as     you can keep the small of your back firmly on the mat (inhale). Raise legs (exhale). Press     straight arms into mat with long neck resting on mat. Advanced: hands behind head,     widen elbows, raise head and back off mat throughout this exercise. Lower legs 6-8” from     mat.
Rolling Series
    Rolling (Rolling Back) – knees held as close to your chest as possible – hold yourself in a     tight little ball. Inhale rolling down, exhale rolling up. Do not touch your feet to the floor in     any of these three Rolling exercises – roll up to your balance position. Advanced 1:     hands free, Advanced 2: hands on forehead, elbows on knees. 

    Rocker (Open Leg Rocker) – straight legs together. Inhale rolling down, exhale rolling up     and then straighten the spine before you curve the spine to roll down again. Advanced:     Closed Leg Rocker: keep legs straight and together.

    Seal – heals together and arms between legs.

    Crab – legs crossed
Side Kick Series – anchor your body by keeping core firm. Advanced: both hands behind   head.
    Up/Down – straight leg up, inhale, point foot, then straight leg down, exhale, flex foot.
    Small Circles – tips: straight leg reaching as you maker small circles. Straight leg is more     important than big circles. Keep toes pointed and body “quiet”.
    Bicycles – one way and then the other. Drop this when it gets too easy!
    Leg Bends (Side Passe) – straight leg up, inhale, point foot, then bend leg and continue     to inhale. Straighten leg, flex foot, exhale. Reverse.
    Front/Back – 2 pulses forward, one back – reach leg long. Advenced: after this exercise     grab ankle and pull back for a nice thigh stretch 
    Inner Thigh Lift – bend and rest upper leg on mat. Point and lift lower leg 5 times, then
    circle leg each way 5 times. Advanced: bring heel of bent leg as close to your chest as you     can. 

Body Lift – straighten lower arm and rest head on it. Rest other straight arm on top of thigh.
Inhale as you remain on the floor. Exhale as you lift upper torso and legs at the same time. Inhale lower body. Exhale lift. Advanced: at the end of your reps, do 5-10 scissors keeping the upper torso and legs off the mat.

Advanced Body Lift #1 – same position, but instead of hand on thigh place this hand on your mat right in front of your belly to anchor yourself. Now lift arm and legs as you exhale. Inhale a you lower the arm and legs.

Advanced Body Lift #2 – same position and movement and breathing as Body Lift exercise except hands behind head. Lift legs and elbow off mat. After 3-5 reps stay high off mat as you do 5-10 “gators”. Advanced: bring knees up to chest and twist your waist to rest your shoulder blades flat on your mat for a wonderful stretch in your waist.

Side Plank – on elbow or straight arm, lift into a side plank, then reach straight arm up and overhead. Advanced 1: lift leg and arm. Advanced 2: heal touches mat in front of anchor foot, then toe touches mat in back of anchor foot.

Teaser Series Advanced: do all of these without pause in an intense block
   Teaser 1 – with straight legs and arms and, start in the balance position, circle legs one            way and arms the other

    Teaser 2 – same starting position, inhale as you lower your straight legs, exhale lift

    Teaser 3 – same starting position, inhale as you roll down your spine keeping legs high,     exhale roll up

    Teaser 4 – same starting position, arms overhead, inhale as you roll down spine and lower     legs, exhale as you roll up spine and lift legs  

    Knee Pull – same starting position, keep arms rigid as you pull knees close to your chest,     then straighten legs

    Twist – same starting position, twist arms as far as you can to one side and then to the     other
Belly Series – after each exercise move to child’s pose to relax neck, hips, and lower back. Advanced: do all of these in an intense block without pause and then end with a Child’s Pose. Double Leg Kick – inhale as you kick twice toward your butt, exhale as hands behind small of your back reach long, legs straighten and reach, thighs and chest rise off of mat.
    Swimming – reach your arms and legs long with swimming motion for 4-8 breaths, long     neck.
    Advanced: at end of swimming rotate arms in sockets to a superman position.
    Chest Lift – place arms and hands comfortably under your chest. Without using them rise     up off your chest as you inhale, then exhale as you lower back down
    Swan – lift upper torso to a yoga “Cobra” position. Now lift legs high. Advanced: rock back     and forth with straight legs and arms. Lift high: legs and arms!
    Rocking – same as Swan but bend knees and grasp ankles, lift high, and rock back and     forth.
Knees Series
    Reach Back – on knees, arm straight overhead, bend back as you inhale. Return and     exhale.
    Leg Lifts & Circles – on one knee, straighten leg, do leg lifts and then circles. Then other     side.

    Around The World – have a partner secure your ankles, cross arms in front of chest,     circle upper torso with large circles keeping torso rigid. Touch your back to the floor.     Advanced #1: arms straight and over head, keeping upper torso rigid, twist and then     reach arms to the floor. See if you can touch the floor with your arms straight. Advanced     #2: lie on back, lift legs and straighten them. Reach arms straight out by your sides     perpendicular to your body. Hold the ankle of a standing partner and lower straight legs     down to the floor away from your partner.

    Kneeling Side Kick – same position as Leg Lifts & Circles then lift leg and do Front/Back     movement with leg keeping rest of torso still.
The Saw – sit up straight with feet and arms apart, fingers in your periphery. Turn on the axis of your spine (inhale) and reach pinky finger to little toe (exhale), pulsing 3 times and reaching back arm straight. Advanced: from saw position, sit up tall, now roll down the spine and reach arms straight out in front (inhale), then lift spine to a straight back sitting up again (exhale). 
Shoulder Series – place a cushion under shoulders not neck to eliminate neck strain. Support lower back with hands. Advanced: do all of these exercises without pause.
    Advanced Roll Over – in sitting position lift knees as you roll down the spine, then              straighten knees overhead. Bend knees as you roll down, then straighten legs as you roll     over.  
    Jackknife – lying flat on mat with arms overhead, keeping arms and legs straight, slowly     raise legs over head then up to a shoulder stand, then lower legs down as you roll down     the spine. Advanced: keep arms on mat instead of supporting lower back and turn palms     up as you roll down the spine

    Corkscrew – same position and movement as Jackknife except after you roll down the     spine Circle the legs and let the momentum lift the body back up to a should stand.

    Scissors – in shoulder stand do straight leg scissor.
    Bicycle – do biking motion with legs and reverse. Don’t forget to breathe!
    Control Balance – shoulder stand, straighten legs; lower one leg to floor as other reaches     high. Advanced: straight arms circle on flour and reach over head as straight legs reach         to ceiling.
Leg Pulls Series – feel a straight torso with a long neck
    Shoulder Bridge – bridge position keeping hips high, straighten one leg and raise, the     lower. After this exercise, do a transitional sit-up to begin the next exercise.
    Leg Pull (Leg Pull Up, Leg Pull Back) – in a sitting position with hands comfortably on     your mat behind your back, straighten entire torso by elevating up with straight arms. Lift     straight leg and inhale, lower and exhale. After this exercise, do a transitional turn-over to     begin the next exercise.
    Leg Pull Down (Leg Pull Front) – in a face-down position straighten entire torso by     elevating up with straight arms. Lifts with each leg. Advanced: bring knee to chin – inhale.     Straighten and reach leg out and up as you lift your chest – exhale.

    Toe Rolls – continuing in the front position, lean forward onto your toes, then lean back     onto flexed feet.
    High Hips – continuing in the front position raise hips high, then reach heels to the mat

Push-Ups – roll down spine (exhale), walk out to straight torso (inhale and exhale), perform 3 push-ups inhaling down, exhaling up, jackknife torso as you walk back and inhale, roll up spine – exhale. Advanced #1: keep legs straight as you walk up and back, Advanced #2: rest one foot on top of the other, Advanced #3: one arm push up. Advanced #4: cross legs as you roll up and down your spine
Twist & Thread The Needle (I call it “The Cleo”) – sitting on one hip supported by straight arm (or on elbow), legs straight, one leg over the other lift hips up and reach arm long over head. Swoop arm up and around reaching long in an arc and reach arm thru space between your support arm and feet, then reverse. Advanced: repeat without dropping butt to the mat between sets, watch hand all the way, reach your arm all the time as it moves.
The Cat (Cat/Cow) – on hands and knees, reach spine to the ceiling. Coordinate movement and breathing, breathe deeply, and move fluidly without any stops or starts.


Start Your FREE Award-Winning Online Pilates Lessons With One of Today's Leading Instructors!

Your email address is never shared with anyone

Forum Active Posts

High Intensity Pilates