Get a Stronger, More Stable Core With This 15-Minute Pilates Workout for Beginners

Add this 15-minute beginners Pilates workout into your routine for full-body strength.
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Forget heavy weights or expensive gym memberships. Build fitness, strength and mobility with this 15-minute Pilates workout for beginners — no equipment needed.


"Pilates is truly about functional movement," says Tracy Green, a certified Pilates and barre instructor at Louisville's Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center. She says doing this flow three to four times per week will make it easier to perform everyday tasks, like hauling a heavy bag of groceries up the stairs or squatting to pick up boxes from the floor.

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Even better? These compound movements target multiple muscle groups — including the core, glutes, arms and legs — so you burn more calories and increase strength more quickly.

Green says this low-impact routine is easy on the joints, making it ideal for beginners or those returning to exercise from a recent injury. And at just 15 minutes, it's simple to incorporate into your busy day as a stand-alone routine or as a warmup or cooldown for other activities.

Grab your mat and try this 15-minute Pilates workout for beginners.

15-Minute Pilates Workout for Beginners

Perform each exercise sequentially, resting as needed.


1. Roll Down to Plank

Reps 5
Time 20 Sec
Body Part Arms, Back and Abs
  1. Start standing with your feet underneath your hips, toes pointed forward.
  2. Reach your arms toward the ceiling while pulling your shoulders away from your ears.
  3. Lower the head and reach your arms to the mat as you roll the spine down sequentially, bending your knees as needed.
  4. Place both hands on the mat and walk out to a full plank position, hands planted firmly under shoulders, with your legs straight and your body in one long line.
  5. Press into your hands and toes, engage your legs, and pull your navel toward your spine to engage your core and hold the plank for 10 to 30 seconds, lowering to your knees if needed.


To keep your neck in line with your spine, look at the floor about six inches in front of your mat.

2. Bird Dog

Reps 10
Body Part Abs and Butt
  1. Come to a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Inhale and reach your right arm forward and left leg back, keeping the left hip parallel to the floor.
  3. Exhale and lower the arm and leg back to the floor.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side, inhaling to reach the left arm forward and the right leg back and exhaling to lower the arm and leg back to the floor.


Add ankle and arm weights for an extra challenge.

3. Shoulder Bridge

Reps 10
Body Part Butt and Legs
  1. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, hip-width apart, heels in line with the bony part of your pelvis that you sit on and hands palm-down by your sides.
  2. Exhale as you draw your belly button toward your spine, then curl your pelvis so your tailbone tips off the mat. Lift your lower, middle and upper back sequentially.
  3. Inhale at the top, lifting your torso but drawing your ribs in so you’re in a straight line from shoulders to knees, pressing your knees away from your hips.
  4. Exhale as you roll down one vertebra at a time, reversing direction so your upper back, middle back and lower back touch the mat.
  5. Repeat for a total of 10 times.


Move slowly and with control, paying attention to the articulation of your spine.

4. The Hundred

Reps 10
Body Part Abs
  1. Lie on your back, legs flat on the floor.
  2. Bring your legs together and lift them to a tabletop position, shins parallel with the floor.
  3. Reach your arms long by your sides and float them a few inches off the floor.
  4. Pump the arms quickly as you inhale for five breaths and exhale for five breaths, for a total of 100 breaths.


This is a classic Pilates move that can take some practice to get used to (read more about how to properly do the hundred here). To dial down the intensity, keep the head on the mat and keep the legs in the tabletop position.

To increase the difficulty, lift your head off the mat, tuck your chin into your chest and extend your legs out in front of you, keeping your lower back on the mat.

5. Swimming

Reps 10
Body Part Back, Abs and Butt
  1. Lie on your stomach, forehead down on the mat, with your arms and legs extended long.
  2. Inhale and lift your right arm and left leg off the mat, exhale to lower.
  3. Switch sides, inhaling to lift the left arm and right leg off the mat, exhaling to lower.
  4. Press your hips to your heels with your feet together, knees apart and arms stretched in front of you to release the lower back.


Want to make this move harder? Keep your arms and legs lifted off the mat for the duration of the exercise.

6. Side Plank

Time 15 Sec
Body Part Abs and Arms
  1. Come to a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Rotate to your right side with your arm directly underneath your shoulder and with your legs long and staggered.
  3. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.


To modify this exercise, lower to your forearms, knees or both.



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