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A 20-Minute Stress-Busting Pilates Routine

author image Andrea Speir
Pilates instructor Andrea Speir is the star of two top-selling DVDs, “Trim, Tighten and Tone” (2014) and “Perfect Pilates Body” (2013). Speir Pilates, her first studio, is located in Santa Monica, CA and fuses classical Pilates with modern cardio and intense circuit training.

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A 20-Minute Stress-Busting Pilates Routine
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling

Whether you’re starting your week, ending it or you’re stuck in the middle of it, stress can take a toll on your energy levels. But this fast-paced, 20-minute Pilates workout will get your heart rate up and relieve all that stress while toning and sculpting your entire body. The whole workout takes less than 30 minutes, and you’ll be happy you squeezed it in. So unroll your mat or find a carpeted area and get your stress-busting workout on!

Plie Warm-Up
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET UP: Stand with your feet just wider than hip distance and your arms down by your sides. MOVEMENT: Bend your knees and lower into a plié squat while you sweep your arms up and over your head. Straighten your legs as you sweep your arms back down. Repeat for 20 reps.

Related: Get Rid of the Bra Bulge With These 5 Pilates Moves

Arm Reaches
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Stand with your heels together, toes apart and hands on your hips. MOVEMENT: Lunge in one direction while reaching that same arm up toward the sky. Pulse twice with your arm as you deepen the squat. Switch sides. Repeat for 10 reps.

Related: Moves to Shrink Your Belly, Butt and Thighs

Plie Squats
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Stand with your feet wider than hip distance and your arms out wide to the sides. Lower into a deep squat. MOVEMENT: Lift one heel up, then pulse your body down. Switch legs, bringing the other heel up. Repeat for 20 reps.

Related: Why Stand When You Can Do These 8 Moves Sitting Down?

Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Lie on your back with your knees pulled in toward your chest and your head curled up. Your hands should be stacked behind your head and neck. MOVEMENT: Flex your feet and press your heels together with the toes facing out. Extend your legs to a 45-degree angle. Bend your legs back in, pulling in your abdominals. Repeat for 10 reps.

Related: What Men Can Learn From Women's Workouts

Full Roll-Up
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Lie flat on your back with heels together and feet flexed. MOVEMENT: Reach your arms up toward the sky, then round your back, rolling up and reaching for your toes. Roll back down to lie flat, focusing on a deep abdominal connection. Repeat for 15 reps.

Related: 9 Unexpected Things That Happen When You Stop Working Out

Hovering Single-Leg Circles
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Lie on your back with knees in toward the chest, your head and chest curled up and your hands behind your head. Extend both legs straight up, then lower your left leg down to a 45-degree angle. MOVEMENT: Move your left leg in circle — toward the ceiling, across body, down, around and back up (make the circles only as wide as your hips). Do six reps, then switch direction for six more. Switch legs and repeat six circles in both directions.

Related: Are You Ready for Your New Workout? 3 Steps to Get Started

Jumping Rolling Like a Ball
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Have a seat on the mat, bend your knees into tight ball and hold on to the back of your thighs. Bow your head down so you’re looking at your abdominals. MOVEMENT: Rock backward just to your shoulder blades, not your neck or head. Rock back up to the start position. Use your momentum to stand and jump straight up. Lower back down to a seated position and repeat. Repeat for 10 reps.

Related: 9 Ways to Get the Most Out of Cardio Exercise Machines

Single-Leg Stretch
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Lie on your back, then pull one leg in toward your chest and hold on to the shin. Extend your other leg out to a 45-degree angle. MOVEMENT: Give the bent knee a gentle pull and contract your abs. Switch legs and draw the other leg in. That’s one rep. Repeat for 15 reps.

Related: The Best Workout for Bad Knees

Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Lying on your back, curl up your head and chest and extend both legs upward. Grab one ankle (or back of the leg) and lower the other leg to 45 degrees. MOVEMENT: Pull in the leg you are holding with two gentle pulses, contracting your core muscles on each pulse. Switch legs. That’s one rep. Repeat for 15 reps.

Related: A Cardio Kettlebell Workout That Will Crush Calories

Lower Lift
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Lie on your back with legs together, extended to the ceiling. Your head and chest are curled up with hands behind your head for support. MOVEMENT: Lower your legs to a 45-degree angle. Lift your legs back up toward the ceiling. Repeat for 15 reps. TIP: Make sure to really contract your abs the entire time, so your lower core muscles are working and the back doesn’t arch and take over.

Related: 12 Essential Squat Variations to Try

Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Pull your knees into your chest and curl up your head and chest, keeping your hands behind your head. Extend one leg out to 45 degrees. MOVEMENT: Twist your upper body toward the bent knee, keeping your hips anchored to the ground. Pulse up two times. Switch to other side and repeat. That’s one rep. Repeat for 15 reps.

Related: 7 Cross-Training Workouts to Shake Up Your Routine

Spine Stretch Forward
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Sit up tall with your legs extended out to the corners of your mat. Reach your arms out in front of your body (parallel to floor). MOVEMENT: Inhale and sit tall. Exhale as you round your body forward and reach toward your toes. Inhale and pull in your abdominals as you roll back up. Exhale and sit tall. Repeat for 5 reps.

Related: 11 Stretches That Everyone Can Do

Open-Leg Rocker
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Sit toward front of the mat. Bend your knees in and grab your ankles. Then, while balancing on your sit bones, slowly extend your legs straight up; they should be no wider than hip-distance apart. MOVEMENT: Draw your abdominals in deeply. Rock back to shoulder tips, not onto your neck or head. Rock back up to the start position. TIP: This is a hard one — your legs stay straight/extended the entire time. It’s all about the core on this exercise! Repeat for 10 reps.

Related: 10-Minute Total-Body No-Equipment Workout

Switch Jumps
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Step one leg forward into a low, deep lunge, keeping your hands as flat on the mat as possible. Your back leg is straight. MOVEMENT: Bend knees slightly to gain momentum. Jump and switch legs in midair, landing with the other foot in front and repeating on that side. Do 20 reps. Want more of a challenge? Do one rep with both legs jumping forward at the same time. TIP: Keep hips low and core engaged.

Related: 6 Ways to Break Free From Boring Push-Ups

Kneeling Side Legs
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Start kneeling in the center of mat. Place one hand down flat on the mat to one side, directly under your shoulder and the other hand behind your head. Lift the outside leg up parallel to the mat. MOVEMENT: Sweep leg forward and then sweep it backward. This exercise is fantastic for tightening the outer thighs, butt and side body. Repeat for 10 reps. TIP: Try to keep core engaged and leg parallel to mat the entire time.

Related: 3 Unique Moves to Boost Your Ab Workout

Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Sit with knees bent to your right and stacked. Place your right hand on the ground to your side and place your left hand on your left ankle. MOVEMENT: Lift your spine and reach your left arm up and over your head to the right. Then lift your body back up, reaching straight up. That's one rep. Do eight reps, then switch sides. That’s one set. Repeat for 2 sets, 8 reps per side.

Related: Kayla Itsines’ 14-Minute Workout That Will Torch 200 Calories

Classic Push-Ups
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


SET-UP: Stand with your heels together and rise up on the toes, reaching your arms toward the sky. MOVEMENT: Fold over at the hips, reaching for the floor, and walk out to a plank position. Do three push-ups. Round your back up and walk your hands back in toward your feet. Roll up to standing. That’s one rep. Repeat for 10 reps.

Related: 10 Workout Moves You're Probably Doing Wrong (And How to Fix Them)

What Do YOU Think?
Photo Credit: Valorie Darling


What kind of exercise or workouts do you do to relieve stress? Have you ever tried Pilates? Will you try this workout? If you do, leave a comment below and let us know how it went!

Related: 14 Exercises to Offset Sitting All Day

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