Pilates for beginners

Learn Pilates online with these Pilates exercises, exercise series and workouts/classes for beginners. There are three steps here in this online course. First, learn the 15 Pilates exercises for beginners. They make up the core of the Pilates mat series and are a great way to get introduced to the Pilates principles. Second, learn the 6 Pilates ab exercise serie, the 6 upper back exercise serie and the 6 back exercise serie. They will help you progress on mastering Pilates exercises. Third, do the Pilates classes and workouts for beginners. You will find it all material on this page. Use the navigation below for on-page-navigation. Good luck and have fun!

Step 1: Learn these 15 Pilates exercises for beginners.

Ab exercise 1The first step of this online Pilates course for beginners is to learn these 15 exercises which make up the core of the Pilates mat series. All video’s are about 2/4 minutes and show you in detail how to do the exercise. You will learn ab exercises, back exercises, balance exercises, leg/glute exercises, spine flexibility exercises and shoulder stabilizations. All exercises are about pelvic stability and finding the connection between the upper body and legs via the transverse abdominal(s) mainly and abs and core in general. This connection is what matters most in Pilates and is of crucial importance for any beginner. The second major point is the engagement of the Pilates powerhouse (upper legs, glute and pelvis). In many exercises this is the centre of control and strength/power. With these two main point in mind, you will have a great introduction to Pilates.

Lastly, you will learn about the Pilates principles though the exercises itself. You will have cue’s on breath, centre of movement, control of the body, stabilization, fluid momevent, balance and muscle groups targetting. Instead of an abstract theoretical explanation, you will learn these principles in the exercises themselves, which will make it part of your muscle-memory.

These 15 exercises are for detail and explanation. It is best to immediately combine these exercises with the (below) selected classes and workout for beginners and the ab- and back exercise series. Good luck and have fun!

1. The Hundred

The Hundred

The Pilates Hundred exercise is one of the most well known exercises in Pilates. All abs here! The moving with the arms provides a great stability challenge: try to hold the whole body still and let the abs do the work.

2. The Swimming

The Swimming

A great Pilates exercise for back muscle training. Instead of just lifting the back, the swimming provides a way to train lateral back stability. We are trying to hold still using the back muscles.

3. Push Up

Push Up

In Pilates, the push up is all about finding abdominal support while training upper body balance and strength. Don’t hang in your lower back! Also extend the upper legs.

4. Single Leg Stretch

Single leg stretch

A great Pilates pelvic stability exercise! You need to stabilize using the abs. It’s one of the most basic ab and core stability exercises of the Pilates mat series.

5. The Lowering

The Lowering

Try to hold your legs using the lower abs instead of the lower back. See how far you can drop one leg before the lower back muscles kick in too much. Classic Pilates exercise.

6. Shoulderbridge


A very good Pilates exercise for (lower) back flexibility. When done correctly, you will feel a lot of leg, ab and glute action as a result from relaxing the spine.

7. Side Plank

Side Plank

The Side plank is mainly about shoulder stability. It also works on the abs and core muscles, especially on the waist. Great Pilates exercise for strengthening and connecting the shoulders!

8. Side Balance

Side balance

It looks easy, but it is rather difficult to balance on the side of the body. Don’t use the lower back, but the core muscles to balance yourself. The challenge in this Pilates exercise is to move with the legs!

9. Rolling like a ball

Rolling like a ball

This is a fun exercise! Steering from the abs you will feel that you can control a lot of movement using them. There is also a little bit of falling technique in there. Pilates balance exercise!

10. Roll Up

Roll up

The Roll up is a flexibility and mobility exercise for the spine. Meanwhile, you really need to work the abs to be able to roll up. This ab strength and back flexibility makes it into a great Pilates exercise. Don’t repeat to many times. (6x)

11. Back bend roll

Back bend roll

This Pilates exercise targets the back muscles and creates backward flexibility for mainly the upper back. It’s not about lifting, but about rolling back. Not easy!

12. Standing roll down

Standing roll down

The Standing roll down, is just like the roll up, a flexibility exercise for the spine using ab strength to come up. Great Pilates exercise for muscle memory; whenever hanging forward, find abdominal support!

13. Pilates Squat


The Pilates squat is to be done with a straight and lengthened spine. The core muscles, including lower abs will participate as a result. Try to feel it and don’t sink to deep!

14. Lunge


The Pilates Lunge is a pretty tricky exercise if you try to do it with a small stance. Great for hip- and pelvic stability and pretty heavy on the leg muscles, as all lunges are. Hold your hands still!

15. Balance


Of all the Pilates balancing exercises on this website, this is the most basic. Great for hip- and pelvic stability. One leg moves, the other holds still. And try to stand up straight!

Step 2: Pilates ab exercises and back exercises for beginners.

Now that you have had a taste of the core of the Pilates mat series, try these next exercise series. You will find that the same Pilates principles are being followed in all these variations. Ab exercises and back exercises are very close to the basic exercises you have just learned. They are a good next step for beginners. There are a couple of exercises which are a bit more outside the box, but that’s no problem. It’s all about understanding the two main points of upper body-leg connection and engaging the powerhouse.
Make sure that while doing the ab exercises series, you take pauzes in between and to always stop if you feel pain, especially neck pain and/or back pain. It’s quite common for a beginner to end up with neck pain or lower back pain after ab exercises. This means that you can’t hold yourself up anymore from the abs. So, as soon as you feel the back of the neck and/or the (lower) back too much during the ab exercises, stop and pauze untill you feel like you can continue again. Good luck and have fun!

6 Pilates ab exercises for beginners

8 Pilates ab exercises

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6 back strengthening exercises for beginners

8 back exercises

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6 Upper back exercises for beginners

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Step 3: 4 Pilates classes and workouts for beginners.

The last step of this online Pilates course for beginners is to practice your new Pilates skills with these 4 Classes and workouts. These classes and workouts are also suitable for experienced Pilates students, but are definitely great for beginners. All exercises are explained throughout the classes and although there are lots of variations, all exercises can be traced back to the 15 pilates exercises for beginners. Also note that all cue’s in the classes and workouts have to do with the two main points mentioned earlier: the connection between the upper body and legs and the engagement of the powerhouse (upper leg,s glute, pelvis). Also note that all pilates principles are being adressed. Just follow the cue’s and you will be able to move along just fine. Whenever something does not feel right, just skip it. You should never expercience pain, so always stop immediately when you do feel pain. Also don’t blindly follow along, but watch the exercise first and then slowly step in to see and feel if this works for you. Please note that training along is at own risk. Keep it safe and have fun!

Pilates Class for Beginners 48 min 32 sec.

Pilates Class

Pilates class. This is a perfect Pilates class for a beginner. That’s because we take it slow and are precise. You will see lunges, balance exercises and a lot of Pilates groundwork exercises for abs, back and legs. Some classic exercises and of course lots of variations.

Pilates Workout for Beginners 13 min 06 sec.

Pilates Workout

Total body workout for beginners. You will definitely find a lot of ab and back exercises in this beginner workout. There is a nice warm-up and exercises for opening the shoulders and upper body. And some new balance exercises to experiment with!

Pilates Workout for Beginners 16 min and 45 sec.

Pilates Workout

Total body workout for beginners.This workout poses a bit more of a challenge for a beginner. We are doing spine rolls, like the standing roll down, but then reversed. Great exercises to learn. Also Push-ups, back exercises and ab exercises.

Pilates Class for Beginners 41 min and 46 sec.

Pilates Class

Pilates class. Extensive loosening-warm-up. A lot of turning with the arms in the beginning. Great for loosening the whole back as well. Then we move on to a precise squat and from there we go into classic groundwork-mode, great for core- and pelvic stability. The whole body get’s trained in a relaxed, slow and precise manner.

That’s it for this course! Great job, i hope you have learned a lot and had a bit of fun as well. Now you can move on to the regular Pilates workouts and classes, the daily routines and all other Pilates exercise series. Well done!

More Pilates exercises and workouts

You can also create your own Pilates workout by taking exercises from the Pilates exercises encyclopedia. They are grouped in ab exercises, back exercises, neck and shoulder exercises and general exercises. Amongst those exercises are the 20 basic Pilates exercises. Along with the Pilates for beginners, this is a great way to start doing Pilates. If you want to work on the lower back because of lower back pain or tension, then see the Pilates for the lower back page. You will find exercise series there like 11 Pilates exercises for a weak lower back. For Pilates exercises on topic, check out the Pilates exercise series. There are also free Pilates exercises and workouts to do for which you can sign up on those pages. Top 5 Pilates exercises for at home and 5 great Pilates workouts for at home are two examples. And of course there are a lot of great Pilates workouts to do.