Wall Pilates is a great way to engage your whole body and add variety to your Pilates routine. Pilates is a perfect low-impact workout option that allows you to target essentially any muscle you want. Each of the exercises below target multiple muscle groups at once and are part of a whole-body workout. Select 5 or 6 exercises to use in sequence with each other to create a personalized full-body wall pilates workout.
Here are 15 wall Pilates moves that target different muscle groups and provide a full-body workout. Remember to consult a fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or concerns.
These Wall Pilates moves can provide a dynamic and effective full-body workout. However, make sure to practice them with proper form and alignment to prevent any injuries. If you’re new to Pilates or these movements, consider taking a class or working with a certified instructor to ensure you’re performing them correctly.
1. Wall Roll Down
Stand with your back against the wall, feet hip-width apart. Starting with your head, slowly roll down through your spine, keeping your back against the wall until you are fully bent over. Focus on rolling down one vertebra at a time before resting for a moment with your neck and arms relaxed. Then, slowly roll back up to standing one vertebra at a time.
During this exercise, you will mainly be focused on your core and back muscles. Your core should be engaged during the rolling motion to help you control the speed. This is a great way to start a full-body workout because it helps you gain awareness of each part of your body.
2. Wall Squats
Stand with your back against the wall, feet slightly in front of you. Slide down into a squat position, ensuring your knees don’t go past your toes. Hold the squat for a count of 10, one deep breath, or however long you feel is an appropriate challenge. Then, slide back up the wall into a standing position and repeat.
While in the squat position, your thigh muscles and core will be engaged. To engage your arms at the same time, hold them straight in front of you at a 90-degree angle to the wall.
3. Wall Bridge
Lie on your back with your feet against the wall, knees bent at 90 degrees. Lift your hips off the floor into a bridge position, using the wall for support. You will hold the bridge position for a predetermined amount of time or breaths before lowering back down and repeating again.
While in the bridge, squeeze your glutes and engage your core. Challenge yourself to move slowly in and out of the position to give your core an additional challenge.
4. Wall Teaser
A Pilates teaser is a very challenging move usually done without a wall. Doing this version with the wall gives you added stability and is a little bit easier than the traditional exercise. This is a great way to practice control and form so that you can be more successful with the traditional teaser in the future.
Sit facing the wall and place your feet up on the wall right next to each other, so that your toes are about eye level where you are sitting. Once positioned, you can lie on your back with your arms stretched out above your head on the ground. To perform the teaser, start by lifting your arms, then your head, and then rolling up as far as you can without bending your legs. Your arms are reaching for your toes.
Keep your chin tucked into your chest and your core tight. Try to keep the motion smooth as you roll up and down and back up again. Your legs should be pressing into the wall throughout the exercise to maintain your position. This is a really challenging core exercise, that also works your quads and arms at the same time.
5. Wall Plank
Place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, and feet against the wall in a plank position. Hold the plank, engaging your core and keeping your body in a straight line. You can also do a plack with your elbows and forearms flat against the ground to support your weight as long as you move your feet lower down the wall to maintain a straight line.
In either position, your arms and your core will be engaged. When ending your plank, slowly lower yourself down to the mat and maintain control over your body, rather than just dropping.
6. Wall Leg Lift
Start in a plank position with your feet against the wall. Lift one leg toward the ceiling, engaging your glutes and hamstrings. You should lift your leg as high as is comfortable, which will be different for each person. Do not strain your back to lift higher than you are able. The benefit of this exercise comes from using your glutes and abdominals to keep your leg steady. It does not matter how high you are able to lift your leg. Lower the leg back down into its position on the wall before switching sides.
This is a great follow-up to the wall plank. You are in the same position, working the same muscle groups. However, the leg lift engages your glutes and demands more from your abdominals and your leg muscles.
7. Wall Scissors
Lie on your back with your legs and hips against the wall, forming an “L” shape. Lower one leg toward the floor, drawing an arch on the wall with your heel, while the other remains against the wall. Alternate legs in a scissor-like motion. Make sure you do even reps on both sides of your body.
This motion engages your lower abdominal muscles and your hip abductors. Keeping your chin tucked into your chest will further engage your core.
8. Wall Corkscrew
Lie on your back with your legs and hips against the wall vertically to form an “L” shape. Keeping your legs together, slowly lower them to one side, scooping toward your body on the ground before circling back up to the other side. You are forming a wide semicircle with your legs as they circle from the wall, to above your head, and back to the wall. Your hips will lift slightly to allow your legs to rotate above your head. You will want to perform this in both directions.
This mainly targets your core, but puts extra emphasis on your obliques, rather than your abdominals. keeping your legs steady and straight will also engage muscles all throughout the length of your leg.
9. Wall Arm Circles
Stand with your back pressed into the wall, your legs slightly bent at the knees and your feet a few inches from the wall. Throughout the exercise, focus on keeping your shoulder blades in contact with the wall. Extend your arms perpendicular to the wall, at shoulder height. Then, open your arms to create a “T” shape with your body. Next, lower your arms back to your side.
Repeat these three motions to draw “circles” with your arms. After 5 or 10 repetitions, switch directions of the circle. You will raise your arms to a “T” against the wall, bring them forward, then drop them back by your side. Switching directions ensures that you are working your shoulder and arm muscles in different ways throughout the exercise. Tucking your pelvis and really pressing into the wall will engage your core as well.
10. Wall Single-Leg Stretch
This exercise builds on the wall scissors move. With one leg vertical against the wall and one leg lowered, you can add in a leg stretch. With your chin tucked and your core tight, reach both hands together toward your lifted leg. Your spine will quickly roll up the mat in a curved shape before relaxing back down flat. Switch legs in the scissor-like motion and then repeat the reach on the other leg.
Once you are used to the motion, you can do quick and controlled repetitions. This move combines the benefits of wall scissors with powerful abdominal movement and a stretch through your hamstrings.
11. Wall Roll-Up
The wall roll-up is essentially half of the traditional pilates roll-up. Instead of stating laying on your back, sit on the floor with your back against the wall and your legs extended. Slowly roll your spine down onto the mat, engaging your core. Rest and stretch for a moment before rolling back up to sitting.
The rolling motion in this exercise is similar to the wall roll-down. You should be focused on rolling one vertebra at a time. This requires you to engage your abdominals and carefully control the shift of your body weight.
12. Wall Hundreds
Lie on your back with your legs together and feet pointed with your toes pressed against the wall about a foot off the ground. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat, with your chin tucked into your chest and your belly scooped. Reach your arms out straight by your sides level with your shoulders and a few inches off the ground. Pump your arms up and down while breathing in for five counts and out for five counts until you reach 100.
The original hundreds exercise is done on a mat without wall support, requiring you to balance the weight of your legs. In the wall-supported version, you can press the weight of your legs into the wall to help you focus on more controlled breathing. Once you are comfortable with your form and breathing, try using your abdominals to lift your feet just off the wall and only rest them back on the wall when needed.
Hundreds is a whole-body exercise that requires a steady core and powerful arm movements. It is a really good exercise for improving stability and control. Counting breaths helps you train your lungs to take deep breaths during exercise.
13. Wall Twist and Stretch
Lay on your back with your hips a few inches from the wall. Press the soles of your feet into the wall in a tabletop position where your shins are parallel to the floor. Stretch your arms straight out from your body with the backs of your hands resting on the floor.
Slowly walk your feet down one side of the wall, step by step, until the bottom foot is touching the floor. Continue to press the soles of your feet into the wall throughout the movement. Stretch for a moment with your hips and knees to the side and your shoulders flat. Walk your feet back up to tabletop and then down the other direction to stretch the other side of your body.
This exercise is focused on lengthening your muscles, rather than just strengthening. You should feel lengthening in your obliques, pecs, neck, hamstrings, and likely other parts of your body as well. This stretch helps reduce tension throughout your body and increase flexibility.
14. Wall Leg Circles
Lie on your back with one leg laying flat with the sole of your foot against the wall. The other leg should be lifted straight toward the ceiling. Circle the lifted leg in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions to engage your hip muscles. Keep your leg straight and your toe pointed throughout the exercise.
Small and fast circles will challenge your hip and core to maintain control. Large and slow circles will challenge you to keep your hips grounded even when the weight of your leg pulls sideways. Make sure to repeat the exercise using your other leg. Use the foot against the wall to ground yourself and maintain balance.
15. Wall Side Plank
Lie on your side, with your back facing the wall. To perform the side plank, place your hand underneath your shoulder and press up, holding your body up. Your feet should be positioned one in front of the other with your legs in a straight line. Lift your hips off the floor to create a straight line from your shoulder to your toes, supported by one arm. The other arm extends upward.
The wall behind you will help you create a straight line. Your hips, shoulders, and heels will all touch the wall when they are in line with each other. This will challenge your core, arms, and legs as you hold a strong form.