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Top 8 Pilates Type Exercises To Maintain Body Shape

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Pilates is widely practiced by individuals by fitness experts and amateurs to maintain a lean and muscular body. It is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates, after whom it was named. It has multiple benefits such as improving posture and balance, flexibility and mobility, muscular and core strengths, and decreases stress levels. 

Let us look into the most common and basic form of pilates:

  1. Breathing:

This is a beginner-level exercise, that involves respiratory organ and abdominals muscle movements. 

How to: One should lie on their back with knees bent and placing their hands on their ribs. Inhale while you feel the ribs moving upwards with your hands and consequently exhale back while the ribs move downwards. Repeat the process 3-5 times. 

This is suitable for all levels but to add difficulty try to make a tablespoon position with your legs and perform breathing. 

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  1. Abdominal Curl

This is a form of crunches involving the abdominal muscles, and neck, and hands. It helps to reduce extra belly fat and build abs. 

How to:  Lie on their back with legs bent, arms behind the head. One should Engage their abs, tuck chin slightly, and curl head, neck, and shoulders off the mat in that order. Gradually reverse the process to come back to the initial posture.

Repeat the process 10 times. 

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  1. Sideways leg lifts

This exercise is great for your belly and thighs and helps to tighten the muscles of the lower body.

How to: Lie on any one side on the floor, keep your shoulders in line with your hips. Keep one hand below your head folded and the other hand on your hips and extend the leg that is facing upwards the ceiling. Lift it multiple times while keeping your core abs tightened.  After a minute, switch to the other and repeat the same process. That is counted as one rep. Repeat the process 3-5 times.

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  1. One leg Circle

This is for all beginners. It involves hamstrings, abdominal muscles,  hip abductors, and hip flexors. This is also great for slimming your thighs and strengthens abdominal and leg muscles. 

How to: Lie on your back with both legs on the floor to keep a neutral pelvis. Exhale while lifting one leg in the air. Inhale while your leg is straight up in the air and exhale again while making a clockwise or anticlockwise rotation with your legs. Try the same with your other leg and this completes one single rep.

Repeat the process 10 times. 

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  1. Sidekick

This is basic Pilates for beginners involving flexors, abdominals, and hip extensors. This puts pressure on your lower bellow helping to burn fats and also tone your thigh muscles.

How to: Lie on any side with the lower-facing arm below your head. Now extend the leg facing the ceiling. Throw your leg with medium pace forwards and repeat it 8-10 times. Switch your position on the other side and reserve your arm position and your leg movements. Make at least 5-8 reparations. 

To make this Pilate more difficult, tighten your legs and make steadier kicks with your legs. Make sure that your spine is erect and your core muscles are tight.

Image from Seatle Athletic Club


  1. Swan Dive

This exercise involves your abdominal muscles,  hip extensors, and back extensors. 

How to: Lie on your chest and stretch your arms sides parallelly to your body in line with your shoulders. Your legs should also be lying straight with your hamstrings and glutes engaged. Keep your abs tight and put with your palms on the floor sideways horizontally to your shoulder. Lift your head up gradually while you inhale. Hold the position for 10 seconds and release your position by exhaling and lengthening your torso. Repeat this 8-10 times.

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  1. Roll Down

The muscles involved in this exercise are abdominals and back extensors and can be done by any beginner. 

How to: Sit on the mattress and stretch your legs in front and then bend it. Gradually bend forward, stretch both your arms and place your hands at the back of your thighs. Exhale while drawing your pelvic and abs upward and inward and tilt your pelvis to curl your lower back halfway. Next, inhale to hold the curl position. Again exhales to return to the initial position. Repeat the process at least 5 times.  

Image from Health Magazine

  1. The Ultimate Plank

Plank is known as the isometric strength exercise that has multiple benefits. It improves body alignment, strengthens muscles, aligning and building abs, improves core strength and flexibility, increases metabolism, and so on. It involves shoulder girdle stabilizers, the legs, and abdominal muscles. 

How to: Place your forearms on the flat floor and hold up your legs straight supported by your toe fingers. Tighten your core while you can still breathe properly. Keep your body as straight as possible and hold the position for a minimum of 40-60 seconds. Make sure that your spine is straight and your hips should not droop down. 

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Pilates are worldwide popular now. It promotes a healthy spine and joints, preventing injuries, elevates muscular strength, and also boosts up your metabolism. It should be first practiced with the help of a trainer and to start off, pilates with equipment should be avoided.

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