Body Shaping Full Body Workout

Tone your muscles with intermediate-level Pilates exercises

This full body workout with Pilates exercises is an intermediate routine that is loaded with ab, butt, back, arm, shoulder, and leg exercises that tone muscles and give the body a longer, leaner look.

As you do this full body workout, keep your Pilates principles in mind. It should be done with a sense of flow supported by the breath. This routine builds in difficulty. Beginners might prefer a  beginners set.


Standing Legwork Series

standing pilates
Use the wall for balance. (c)2010, Marguerite Ogle
  1. Stand with your legs parallel. Engage your abs, lengthen up through your midline, relax your shoulders. Check that your body is in a long, tall line.
  2. Bend your knees so that your knees go over your toes. With knees bent, lift your heels. With heels lifted, press up to straight legs.
  3. Stay tall as you lower the heels to the floor. Do six reps.
  4. Reverse the sequence: With legs straight, lift the heel so you are on the ball of your foot (not too high). Heels lifted, bend the knees. Knees bent, press the heels to the floor. Lengthen up to standing. Do six reps.
  5. Repeat both sequences with the legs in Pilates stance.

Supported Roll Back

pilates exercise
Keep a Deep Scoop and Long Spine. Courtesy of Kolesar Studios

To do the supported roll back:

  1. Sit up on your sit bones with legs parallel, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands just above the back of the knee.
  2. Engage your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles so that the upper body is easily supported. Shoulders are dropped and the neck is relaxed.
  3. Flex your feet.
  4. Pull your lower abdominals in deeply to initiate the roll back. Let your back curve in response.
  5. Keep your curve as you roll as far back as you can go smoothly. Your hands can help you keep the work in your abs.
  6. Pull your abs in even more deeply to bring the whole curve of your body back up.
  7. Extend through your sit bones and the top of your head to come to full sitting posture. Do six reps.

Reformer Footwork on the Mat

pilates reformer legwork
No reformer takes this exercise further into the abs. (c)2010, Marguerite Ogle

Without the Pilates reformer, this becomes a serious abdominal exercise. Here is how to do reformer footwork on the mat:

  1. Lie on your back with legs in parallel, knees bent, feet on the floor. 
  2. Hands behind the head with shoulders down and elbows wide but not flat across the front.
  3. Curl your upper body up to the base of the shoulder blades.
  4. Bring your legs up with knees shoulder width apart, feet flexed and in Pilates V.
  5. Press through the balls of your feet but keep heels lifted to straighten your legs at a 45-degree angle.
  6. Fold at the knees and hips, using your abs to bring the heels back.
  7. Do five reps. Rest and repeat.

Shoulder Bridge

pilates shoulder bridge
(c)2007, Marguerite Ogle

To do the shoulder bridge:

  1. Lie on your back, legs in parallel, knees bent, feet on the floor.
  2. Press up to bridge position—spine stays neutral.
  3. Extend one leg to knee height.
  4. Kick that leg up with a softly pointed toe, bring it down with foot flexed. Keep your hips stable, and use your shoulders and the backs of your arms for help.
  5. Perform the bridge three times each leg. Rest and repeat.

High Clam

thigh exercise
(c)2010, Marguerite Ogle

To do the high clam:

  1. Lie on your side with your hips and shoulders in a straight line. Stack your hips and shoulders directly on top of each other vertically.
  2. Place your top hand on the floor in front of your chest.
  3. Bend your knees so that your thighs are a little more open than a 90-degree angle.
  4. Rest your head on your outstretched top arm.
  5. Keep your knees together and down as you lift your feet, together, away from the mat.
  6. The inside edges of your feet stay together as you rotate the top knee open.
  7. Keep your feet up but bring the top knee back down to join the bottom knee.
  8. Repeat the open and close with resistance six times. Rest. Repeat. Change sides (or do next exercise, then change sides).

Inner Thigh Lifts

inner thigh exercise
courtesy of Kolesar Studios

To do the inner thigh lift:

  1. Lie on your side in one long line. Move your legs a few inches ahead of you so that you are in a banana shape.
  2. Lift your ribs and prop your head up on your hand. Be sure that you keep your back and neck in good alignment.
  3. Bring the foot of your top leg up to rest in front of your thigh.
  4. Thread your top hand behind the calf and grasp the outside of your ankle.
  5. Keeping the bottom leg straight, reach it so long that it raises up off the floor. Use your inner thigh.
  6. Maintain that sense of length as you lower the leg back down.
  7. Do five to eight lifts on each side. 

Dolphin Arm Plank

plank exercise
(c)2009, Marguerite Ogle

To do the dolphin arm plank:

  1. Begin on your hands and knees. Then move your elbows to the floor directly under your shoulders.
  2. Your forearms can extend on the floor straight in front of you with your hands flat, or your hands can be clasped with fingers entwined. Make sure your shoulders are back and down, and your chest is open.
  3. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in to support the movement as you step back into a plank position. Your legs are together. The length of your body is supporting this move—it is not focused only on the upper body.
  4. Make sure you are in a straight line.
  5. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat.


pilates swimming
(c)2007, Marguerite Ogle
  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs straight and together.
  2. Keeping your shoulders away from your ears, stretch your arms overhead.
  3. Pull your abs in so that you lift your belly button away from the floor.
  4. Reaching out from center, extend your arms and legs so far in opposite directions that they naturally come up off the floor. At the same time, get so much length in your spine that your head moves up off the mat. Keep your face down toward the mat; don't crease your neck.
  5. Alternate right arm/left leg, then left arm/right leg, pumping them up and down in small pulses.
  6. Breathe in for five kicks and reaches, and out for five.
  7. Do five cycles.
  8. Option: take a break in child's pose.

You are halfway through your full body workout. Keep going.


Leg Pull Front

leg pull
(c)2007, Marguerite Ogle

To do the leg pull front:

  1. Take a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders and legs extended with heels together.
  2. Abs engaged and body in a straight line, keep your shoulders and pelvis stable as you lift one straight leg up away from the mat.
  3. Lower the leg with control.
  4. Repeat five times. Change sides.

Spine Stretch

pilates spine stretch
courtesy of Peak Pilates

To do the spine stretch:

  1. Sit up tall on your sit bones. Reach the top of your head to the sky but let your shoulders stay relaxed
  2. Extend your legs about shoulder width apart, feet flexed.
  3. Inhale and extend your arms out in front of you, shoulder height.
  4. Exhale as you lengthen your spine to curve forward. You are going for a deep C-curve.
  5. Allow a deep release in the hips as you keep your shoulders down and reach your fingers toward your toes.
  6. Inhale and reach a little further as you enjoy the fullness of your stretch.
  7. Exhale and initiate your return by using the lower abdominals to bring the pelvis upright. Roll up through the spine to sitting.
  8. Perform three reps.

Spine Twist

pilates spine twist
(c)2007, Marguerite Ogle

To do the spine twist:

  1. Sit up tall on your sit bones.
  2. Pull your abdominals in and lengthen your spine so that your upper body is well supported.
  3. Flex your feet and reach through your heels.
  4. Extend your arms directly out to the sides, keeping them even with your shoulders.
  5. On a two-part exhale, get taller as your turn your torso and head on your central axis. Keep your pelvis stable.
  6. The movement is a two-part pulse where you exhale to twist halfway, and the exhale more to turn as far as you can.
  7. Use your inhale to return to center. Go to the other side.
  8. Perform three sets.


(c)2010, Marguerite Ogle

To do the corkscrew:

  1. Lie on your back with your shoulders away from your ears and arms along your sides, palms down.
  2. Extend your legs up to the ceiling. Keep them together, hugging the midline of the body.
  3. Inhale: Keeping your belly scooped in, use abdominal control to take your legs to the side. The legs stay together.
  4. Your upper body will remain calm and stable. It does help to lightly press the backs of the arms on the mat.
  5. The legs circle down and move through a low center. Don't take your legs so low that your lower back comes off the mat.
  6. As your legs begin to move to the other side of your arc, use your exhale to bring them around and up.
  7. Do three arcs in each direction.


pilates teaser
courtesy of Kolesar Studios

To do the teaser:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight, arms overhead -- shoulders and ribs down. Inhale.
  2. Exhale: Bring your arms forward overhead, as you curl your upper body up and bring your legs up at the same time. Do a deep scoop of the belly. This is a powerful moment where you have to just go for it. Use your abs and breath, not momentum.
  3. Inhale: Balance and reach for your toes.
  4. Exhale: Roll down. As you roll the upper spine down, the arms will travel back overhead and the legs lower down.
  5. Do three to five reps.

Side Stretch

side stretch
(c)2010, Marguerite Ogle

To do side stretch:

  1. Sit sideways with your legs folded to the side. Put your top foot on the floor in front of the other, heel to toe.
  2. Place your supporting hand on the mat in line with your hip a few inches past your shoulder.
  3. Inhale: Press into the supporting arm and straighten your legs to lift your pelvis away from the mat.
  4. Your shoulders are one on top the other, as are your hips.
  5. Keep your body in a long lifted line and sweep your top arm in an arc to reach overhead.
  6. Take the stretch further by reaching up into a side arc with your upper body.
  7. Return to side plank. Return to start position.
  8. Do three reps. Change sides.


seal exercise
(c)2006, Marguerite Ogle

To do seal:

  1. Sit up tall on your sit bones. Lift your feet and put your arms inside your legs. Wrap your hands under your ankles and grasp the outside. The knees are just outside the shoulder, and the feet are together.
  2. With great control, scoop your abs. and make a C-curve shape with your torso. Your gaze is to the navel.
  3. Inhale: Initiating the movement with your lower abs, smoothly roll back onto your shoulders (not your neck). Clap your feet together three times at the top.
  4. Exhale: Use your deep core muscles and your exhale to help you roll back up. Balance.
  5. Perform five reps.

Pilates Pushup

push up
(c)2006, Marguerite Ogle

To do the Pilates pushup:

  1. Begin standing. Keep your shoulders down as your bring your arms over your head.
  2. Your arms should follow your ears as you nod your head and roll down toward the mat. Pull your abs in and curve your spine until your hands reach the mat.
  3. Walk your hands out on the mat in three big steps until you are in front support/plank. Keep your pelvis very stable as you walk your arms out.
  4. Bend your elbows straight back along your sides so that your arms brush your ribs. Do three pushups.
  5. Walk your arms back to toe touch position.
  6. Unroll your spine to standing.
  7. Repeat three times.

Great job on completing a full body workout.

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