Top 5 Pilates Exercises for a Great Warm-Up

Using Pilates exercises in your warm-up brings awareness to your breath and stability to your core, two elements that are often the first to be forgotten i

With so many gyms offering Pilates workouts and Pilates warm-up exercises, you might wonder how they are different from a regular workout routine. Because these exercises are endorsed by many A-list celebrities like Beyoncé, Madonna, and Emma Stone, we are even more inclined to dive into this trend.

To start simply, Pilates is yoga‘s 21st-century associate. While Pilates is not a derivative of yoga in any way, both are low-intensity and inclusive exercises. Pilates was designed to treat injured athletes and dancers to help them keep their physical strength, while yoga is a practice that goes back thousands of years. Yoga focuses more on flexibility and stability, while Pilates is about strength and stability.

Proper Pilates warm-up exercises before any workout help reduce injury and mentally prepare you for the duration of your routine. They also help pump oxygen-rich blood into your circulatory system and prepares your muscles for the intensity and physical demands of each exercise. Warming up with Pilates gives you stability before mobility.

How Pilates Warm-Up Exercises Can Help You

pilates warm-up exercises stretches

The founder of this practice, Joseph Pilates, once said: “In 10 sessions, you feel better, 20 sessions you look better, 30 sessions you have a completely new body.”

Pilates exercises stretch all the major muscles in your body and improve flexibility, strength, balance, and body awareness. It is built around three elements: exercise, breathing, and meditation, thus bringing your mind and body together. If you’re looking into a low-impact workout to reach your fitness goals smoothly, Pilates is the way to go.

Here are some of the top advantages:

  • Pilates is for whole-body fitness. It works on different parts of the body equally. It also focuses on core strength, breathing, and mindfulness.
  • Pilates is adaptable to many levels and needs. It can be either gentle or hard. If you find yourself sitting in a chair for long hours and slouching, Pilates can help you fix that. Many physicians also work with patients who have scoliosis by assisting them with Pilates exercises. Don’t be fooled if the exercises look slow. While Pilates isn’t anything like Zumba, it can still make you sweat. This slow rhythm is due to the emphasis put on awareness and control during the workout.
  • Pilates increases your flexibility. You won’t twist and turn as much as you would in yoga. You will instead stretch your muscles and loosen up your joints. Don’t expect to bulk up during Pilates. The end-game here is to have lean and toned muscles and a strong core.
  • Pilates develops core strength. The core of the body is considered to be the torso, and this is what functional movements highly depend on. The major muscles of the core include the hips, the shoulders, and the neck. When the core is strong, your body’s frame is well-supported.
  • Pilates offers many styles. Polestar Pilates, classical Pilates, Stott Pilates, Jumpboard pilates, … Ask your gym what types they have and see which one fits you best.

To get fit and toned, you can either start with barre classes, Pilates exercises for beginners, or pilates warm-up exercises. Read on to discover how the latter can change your life for the better.

N.B: Always consult your physician before engaging in exercises if you have a medical condition, are unsure about your physical well-being, or are a male above 45 years old or female above 50 years old. 

1. Hip Rolls

Hip rolls are an excellent exercise to target the midsection and the oblique muscles that assist the rotation of the torso. These pilates warm-up exercises can also help with the readjustment of the spine, making them perfect for anyone looking to improve their posture.

Before you start a workout on an ab machine or any other kind of workout, you should mobilize the spine in all directions before you begin a workout. Hip rolls help you do that.

How to Do Hip Rolls

  1. Lay on your back,. Bring your knees up to a tabletop position with your inner thighs pressed together and your arms out to either side like a T.
  2. On an exhale, keep pressing your legs together and rotate your lower torso so your legs lower toward the mat while you keep your shoulders and arms glued to the floor.
  3. Inhale and hold.
  4. Exhale, engage your abdominals, and rotate your legs back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat. Try to lower your legs closer to the mat each time.

How Many Reps Should You Do?

Repeat this exercise three times on each side.

How Often Should You Do Hip Rolls?

You can do hip rolls every day.

2. Hip Release

Although it’s one of the most mobile joints in the body, the hips can often be overlooked. The hip release is not a classical Pilates exercise, but it can help you work on your abdominals and hold the rib cage and the pelvis in neutral.

How to Do Hip Release Exercises

  1. Lie on your back and bend your knees so they are pointed up to the ceiling. Place your feet flat on the floor and hip-distance apart. It’s important to maintain pelvic stability in this exercise, so engage the core to prevent rocking the pelvis.
  2. On an inhale, release one leg by letting your knee fall to the side.
  3. Extend the leg on the floor using your baby toe to draw it out.
  4. Exhale, rotate the knee inward, then bend it back up dragging your foot on the floor. Don’t cheat your hip rotation, and take your time.

How Many Reps Should You Do?

Do three repetitions, then switch sides.

3. Arm Circles and Other Upper-Body Exercises

Just like it’s important to mobilize your hip joints, it’s also important to mobilize your shoulders and tone your arms. As this is a low impact exercise, you can do it every other day. The upper body is an area that many tend to forget to exercise as they do their lower body fitness routine, so make sure to incorporate these exercises as much as you can. You can start with arm circles then move on to the other exercises in the videos

How to Do Arm Circles

  1. Lay on your back, bend your knees so they are pointed up to the ceiling, feet flat on the floor and hip-distance apart; rest your arms by your sides.
  2. Inhale, reach your arms to the sky and rotate overhead; do not lose your abdominal connection, and keep your lower ribs on the mat. Your arms might not go back as far as you expect; everyone’s shoulder mobility is different.
  3. As you exhale, circle your arms around to your hips.
  4. Repeat five times, then reverse the direction.

How Many Reps Should You Do?

Do two sets of ten arm circles.

For more workouts exercises that tone up your upper body, click here.

4. Pilates Bridge or Pelvic Lift

Pilates bridges reduce knee and back pain, strengthens your core, and improves your posture. It could be hard for some beginners, so don’t get discouraged if you feel your muscles stretching. It means it’s working!

How to Do the Pilates Bridge or the Pelvic Lift

  1. Mobilize your spine with your hip joints to complete the core warm-up.
  2. Lie on your back and bend your knees so they are pointed up to the ceiling with your feet flat on the floor and hip-distance apart.
  3. Press into both feet and engage the abdominals, glutes, and hamstrings as you exhale.
  4. Peel the tailbone off the mat, articulating the spine until your weight rests on your upper back and your hip joints are extended.
  5. Do not overextend your lumbar spine. Maintain an abdominal connection to protect your lower back. Inhale at the top and exhale as you articulate the spine back down to the mat.
  6. Repeat.

How Many Reps Should You Do?

Repeat this exercise three to five times.

5. Cat Stretch

How about we borrow a move from one of the most flexible animals: the cat. Cat stretches are a simple and gentle way to stretch out your back.

How to Do the Cat Stretch

  1. Get on all fours and start with your palms on the floor underneath your shoulders and your knees hip distance apart on your mat.
  2. Keep your pelvis and spine in a neutral position as you inhale to prepare.
  3. On your exhale, round your back up to the sky, initiating the movement from the pelvis as your tailbone tucks under like a dog.
  4. Feel your abdominals engage as your vertebrae move sequentially into flexion like a Halloween cat.
  5. Allow your head to complete the curve of your spine and protract the scapula without tensing the upper shoulders and neck.
  6. Next, on an inhale, articulate the spine into extension supported by your abdominals, letting your belly dip below the hips and reaching the heart through your shoulders.
  7. Repeat.

How Many Reps Should You Do?

Repeat five times, and always end back in neutral.

If you want to take your fitness routine to the next level, read our next article about the 5 best stretches you can do on the pilates reformer machine.

top 5 pilates exercises for a great warm-up