How to Do a Pelvic Curl

Pelvic curl
Ben Goldstein

This exercise is often used in Pilates classes as a gentle warm-up for the spine and abdominal muscles. It also works the lower body and helps coordinate breath and movement.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 5 minutes

Set Up

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make sure that your feet, ankles, and knees are aligned and hip-distance apart.

This exercise starts in neutral spine. In a neutral spine, the natural curves of the spine are present so the lower back is not pressed into the mat.

  1. Begin Sequential BreathingInhale. Bring your breath into your chest, then belly, and down to the pelvic floor.
    1. Exhale. Release the breath from the pelvic bowl, the belly, and then the chest. Inhale.
  2. ExhaleDo a pelvic tilt by engaging the abdominal muscles and pulling your belly button down toward your spine. Let that action continue so that the abs press the lower spine into the floor. In the pelvic tilt position, your back is very long on the floor and the pelvis is tilted so that the pubic bone is a little higher than the hip bones.
  3. InhalePress down through your feet allowing the tailbone to begin to curl up toward the ceiling. The hips raise, then the lower spine, and, finally, the middle spine. Keep your legs parallel all the way through. You will come to rest between your shoulder blades, with a nice straight line from your hips to your shoulders. Do not arch beyond this point. Be sure to support this movement with the abdominals and hamstrings.
  4. ExhaleAs you let your breath go, use abdominal control to roll the spine back down to the floor. Begin with the upper back and work your way down, vertebrae by vertebrae, until the lower spine settles to the floor.
  1. InhaleRelease to neutral spine. Prepare to repeat the exercise by initiating the pelvic tilt on the exhale.Repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times.


  • If you have upper back or neck problems, you may want to practice engaging and releasing just the pelvic tilt portion (through step 3) or roll up just part way.
  • Your shoulders and neck remain relaxed throughout the exercise.
  • A nice counter stretch for pelvic curl is spine stretch.
  • All you need is an exercise mat.
  • Take this exercise to the next level with bridge on the ball.
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