Four best ways to warm up before a Pilates session

Filed under: Pilates Features — Susan on February 26, 2014

Pilates has been a recognised exercise programme since the 1920s. It provides total body conditioning that focuses on the alignment of the pelvis and spine. Using focused and meaningful breathing techniques, it allows the participant to improve posture and balance whilst developing a strong core. The system that Pilates follows can be adapted to suit everyone, no matter what their age or level of fitness, and also allows for the intensity to be increased as the participant progresses.

It is important to note that as with any form of exercise, warming up your muscles prior to starting the routine is vital to prevent injury. It means that your muscles are stretched and “warmed up” in readiness for the movements that will place more demand on them, and will also help to release any tension held in the body before you begin.

The Hundred

This will warm up your core muscles, and oxygenate your blood as your lungs work. Take position on the floor on your back and bend your hips, drawing your knees to a 90-degree angle, raising your legs so that your shins are in line with the floor. Keep your arms resting palms down at your side, then make sure your back stays flat against the floor and curl your head and shoulder up off the ground. Tighten the abdominals, then slowly raise your arms off the floor and begin pumping them up and down about six inches in a deliberate, controlled fashion. Repeat one hundred times.


With feet hip-width apart and arms held loosely at your side, inhale through your nose whilst raising shoulders up towards your ears. Hold this position before exhaling and moving your shoulders back down. This move releases any tension within your neck and shoulders. Complete five times.

Cat Stretch

Complete the following movement three to five times in order to mobilise your spine and warm up your muscles. Get onto your hands and knees on the floor, keeping arms below your shoulders and knees tucked under your hips. As you inhale, arch your back up towards the ceiling, dropping your head and shoulders and tightening your abdominals as you expand your ribcage with your breath. Exhale as your drop your back down into the starting position.

Hip Rolls

The final warm up exercise focuses on abdominals, hamstrings and glutes. Lie on the floor on your back, knees bent hip width apart, palms face down on the floor. Tighten abdominals and tilt them up as hips are raised to the ceiling until you are balancing your body weight on your shoulders. You must make sure that you don’t arch your lower back. Inhale on the way up and exhale as you roll your hips back downward to the starting position. Complete this a minimum of three times.

Individually, the above exercises are by no means exhaustive Pilates warm ups, but grouped together, they are an effective way to stretch and warm your body prior to undertaking a Pilates Session, thus reducing potential injury.

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Charlotte Hopkinson