30 Minutes Full Body HIIT Pilates Workout To Get a Toned Body – Includes 30+ Workouts

When most people think about Pilates they think of images of passive stretching on exercise mats and awkward poses. Well, let’s show you why Pilates is a great form of exercise and just what you need to take your workout to the next level.

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is more than just a type of exercise. It is also a form of mind and body conditioning that was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. Even though it was originally developed as a technique for helping dancers recover from injury, some fitness enthusiasts have found that central tenets of Pilates (breathing, precision, concentration, control, center, and flow) are also quite useful to the average person.

While there is a range of Pilates exercises they tend to focus on the back, hip, abdominal and pelvic muscles. Due to this several different exercises and principles have been borrowed from Pilates and adapted successfully into workout routines. 

Let’s take a look at the benefits of adding Pilates to your workout routine.

7 Benefits of Incorporating Pilates into Your Regular Workout

Some of these includes:

a. Pilates gives you a nearly full-body workout. One of the key areas where Pilates differs from isolation exercises is that it works out several major muscle groups at once. This means that Pilates exercises are great for those who want to try out a full-body routine and all the benefits that come with it.}

b. It strengthens your muscles. Pilates isn’t the best routine for muscle growth, but it’s great for people who want to achieve a toned appearance without bulking up. Also, Pilates recruits some of the smaller muscle groups involved in balance and proper body alignment, which are usually overlooked by other exercise regimens.

c. Pilates exercises are great for improving flexibility. Studies have shown that Pilates provides significant improvements in flexibility. Improved flexibility has been linked to a lower risk of injury during workouts, less pain, improved posture, balance, and form, as well as improved peak physical performance.

d. It’s suitable for a wide range of people, regardless of your fitness level. Another great feature of Pilates exercises is that they can be adapted to fit nearly anyone. This could range from the young to old, beginners to experts, those who are physically fit those who are in less than optimal health. This versatility makes them safe for virtually anyone who wishes to improve their physical fitness. 

e. Exercise has several mental benefits as well. Pilates was not developed solely to exercise the body but to condition the mind as well. Mindful exercises like Pilates have been linked to superior brain function, reduced stress, and significant improvements in mood as well.

f. It can help you maintain a healthy weight. Though Pilates is the most effective weight loss exercise routine, it still counts as physical activity and therefore helps you burn calories. This exercise might be better for individuals who are trying to maintain a neutral weight rather than lose or gain weight.

g. It can be done virtually anywhere. One of the key advantages of Pilates is that it can be performed anywhere there’s enough room to set up an exercise mat. Therefore, there’s no need for fancy equipment, long set-up times, or large areas of space, making it quite convenient.

9 Pilates Exercises for a Tone and Lean Body

This full-body pilates workout is great for toning, creating lean muscle and improving mobility and flexibility. If done well, you will get your heart racing and break a sweat.

1. Scissor Kick – 1 Set, 40 Seconds

The Scissor Kick is great for your legs and core.

  • Lay on the floor with your legs fully extended and your arms by your sides.
  • Place your feet together and raise your legs in the air at a 45° angle.
  • Perform alternating kicking motions with your legs (like the scissoring motion used while swimming).
  • Repeat this exercise for 40 seconds.
Total body Pilates Workout - Scissor Kicks

2. Plank Leg Lift – 1 Set, 40 Seconds

This plank variation helps recruit your glutes and legs too.

  • Start in a low plank position with your core engaged.
  • Lift one leg off the ground as high as you can and hold this position for a few seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat this with the other leg.
  • Repeat this exercise for 40 seconds.
Total body Pilates Workout - Plank Leg Lift

3. Leg Pulls – 1 Set, 40 Seconds

Leg Pulls are great for your core and lower body.

  • Start by laying flat on the mat with your hips and knees flexed until your shins are parallel to the floor.
  • Lift your neck and upper body slightly off the mat and reach out your arms towards your legs.
  • Alternate between fully extending your right and left legs at a 45° angle.
  • Repeat this exercise for 40 seconds.
Total body Pilates Workout - Leg Pulls

4. Squat & Reach – 1 Set, 40 Seconds

The Squat & Reach helps you add a bit of motion to the standard squat.

  • Start in a standing position with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower yourself into a full squat with your arms pointing straight out in front of you.
  • Return to the standing position but lift your arms straight above your head as you do.
  • Repeat this exercise for 40 seconds.
Total body Pilates Workout - Squat and Reach

5. Pilates March – 1 Set, 40 Seconds

This is a great standing exercise for your lower body.

  • Start in a standing position with your feet close together.
  • Alternate between lifting your right and left leg in a marching motion while touching the sides of your thighs with each step.
  • Repeat this exercise for 40 seconds.
Total body Pilates Workout - Pilates March
Total body pilates workout

6. Toe Touch Twist – 1 Set, 40 Seconds

The Toe Touch Twist is a familiar exercise that involves several major muscle groups.

  • Start in a standing position with your feet at least shoulder-width apart and your arms fully extended to the sides.
  • While lowering your upper body at the waist and keeping your arms extended, try to touch your left foot with your right arm and your right foot with your left arm.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise for 40 seconds.
Total body Pilates Workout - Toe Touch Twist

7. Down Dog & Bear – 1 Set, 40 Seconds

This is a popular Pilates exercise that can be adapted to fit this routine perfectly.

  • Start on all fours with your back slightly curved, your palms pointing forwards and shoulder-width apart with your shins parallel to the floor.
  • Transition from this position to a Down Dog position by lifting your hips straight in the air like an inverted “V”. Do this by fully extending your legs and arms, while pointing your head down.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise for 40 seconds.
Total body Pilates Workout - Down dog and Bear

8. Pilates 100

This exercise is a bit more advanced but quite effective once you master it.

  • Sit with your weight on your sit bones by leaning backward at a 45° angle and lift your feet slightly off the ground.
  • Extend your arms straight ahead of you.
  • Engage your core and pump your arms up and down quickly in this position.
  • Try to aim for at least 100 pumps in 40 seconds.
Total body Pilates Workout - Pilates 100

9. Bird Dog – 1 Set, 40 Seconds

This is a great exercise for your core, arms, and glutes.

  • Begin on all fours with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
  • Lift your right arm and left leg by fully extending them while keeping your shoulders and hips parallel to the floor.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
  • Perform the exercise with the alternate limbs.
  • Repeat this exercise for 40 seconds.
Total body Pilates Workout - Bird Dog

Effective Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Total Body Pilates Workout

Here are a few useful suggestions to help you get the most out of this exercise program.

1. Practice Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic (or active) stretching is a form of stretching that involves continuous, functional motions instead of simply extending or flexing a muscle. For example, performing walking lunges, torso twists, arm circles, and high kicks are good dynamic stretching exercises.

Dynamic stretching has several advantages like reduced risk of injury and stiffness, greater range of motion, increased blood flow to your muscles while working out, and better peak performance.

2. Pay Attention to Your Breathing

Breathing control is a central tenet of Pilates and proper breath control helps you improve circulation and cardiovascular health, take in more oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide, increase muscle efficiency, and get the most out of your workout.

The general rule of thumb for breathing while exercising is to inhale through your nose during relaxation (or the muscle-lengthening portion) and then exhale through your mouth during exertion (or the muscle-shortening part).

3. Form is Everything

Pilates places more emphasis on form than most other types of exercise. Proper form reduces your risk of injury, stiffness, and pain increases efficiency and range of motion, and helps you get the results you want more quickly.

Some signs of poor form include the wrong muscles being fatigued after an exercise, unusual amounts of discomfort or stiffness, repeated injuries, and cramping.

Total body Pilates Workout illustration -  Heather Robertson


  • Are Pilates exercises safe for everyone?

Yes, Pilates exercises are safe for virtually anybody because they can be adjusted in terms of intensity and range of motion to meet the particular requirements of the individual.

  • Do I have to be flexible to perform Pilates exercises?

No, you don’t have to be flexible before starting Pilates because the exercises help you improve your flexibility. Several studies have shown that just 4 weeks of Pilates exercises can significantly improve flexibility and posture.

  • Has Pilates been proven to help with weight loss?

While Pilates is a great physical activity, it is not well-suited for weight loss because it fails to burn as many calories as activities like running, swimming, or other more intense forms of cardio.


With these great exercises, we hope you’ve been convinced about the benefits of adding Pilates exercises to your routine. Remember, practice dynamic stretching before your workout, pay attention to your form and control your breath, but most importantly have fun.

Total Body Pilates Workout - Heather Robertson

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