Your Core is More Than Just Your Abs: Pilates Lower Back Exercises

You know that Pilates is good for your core, but the Pilates core is different than what you might think. It’s a lot more than just your six-pack abs, more than your glutes too. I’ll be doing a couple posts with some key exercises that will work your entire core, starting with this one about Pilates lower back exercises.

The Pilates Core

Let’s start by defining what your Pilates core consists of. Also known as your powerhouse, your Pilates core is comprised of muscles you probably don’t think about all that often while working out: your diaphragm, pelvic floor, multifidi (muscles along your spine) and transverse abdominals (the muscles under your six-pack). These muscles are the foundation of every exercise and your movements stem outward from them.

You engage your powerhouse to work your more visible muscles and activating them keeps your movements controlled. This is why your Pilates instructor may sometimes sound like a broken record, reminding the class to pull their belly button in and up, weave their rib cage together and pull up on their pelvic floor. This is essential for performing exercises effectively.

Pilates Lower Back Exercises

Now let’s talk about the often forgotten lower back. I think it’s easy for people to throw in some crunches and planks after a workout to work their “core” and forget this area. It’s important to work both sides of your body to maintain balance in your muscles. Strong lower back muscles will also help protect your back.

Try these Pilates lower back exercises with your next workout to balance out your planks.

Disclaimer: Please check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise!

Single Leg Kick

The Basics: Start on your stomach, resting on your forearms. Kick one leg in with two sniffing breaths through the nose, then bring it back to the ground and switch legs. Repeat 10 times on each leg.

Pilates Single Leg Kick Lower Back Exercise
Smile cuz you love it!

Form Cues: Slide your shoulder blades down your back, pull your belly button up and in so that it’s off the ground, focus on your hamstrings.


The Basics: On your stomach, stretch your legs and arms out long, lift them both off the ground and alternate moving them up and down as if you’re swimming. Repeat for 10 breaths.

Pilates Swimming Back Exercise
Don’t try swimming like this in real water!

Form Cues: Pull your abs in as if there’s a cold ice cube under your belly button that you don’t want it to touch, keeping your torso steady, breathe and keep your gaze out towards the island that you’re swimming to. Be sure not to let your hips bunch around on your mat. Keep your core engaged to hold those hips steady.

Double Leg Kick

The Basics: Starting on your stomach with your head to one side and hands resting behind your back, kick BOTH legs in twice, then stretch them out long, hovering off the mat as you lift your upper body and stretch your hands clasped out behind you. Lower down so your head faces the opposite direction and repeat six times on each side.

Pilates Double Leg Kick Lower Back Exercise

Pilates Lower Back Exercise Double Leg Kick

Form Cues: Keep that belly button in, make sure to switch the side your face is turning each time to maintain balance.

*Relax in child’s pose for a moment after each exercise to release and stretch your lower back.

**Once again, my dead lawn is brought to you by California’s drought. 🙂

How often do you work your lower back?

Let me know if you try these exercises! 

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