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Woman & Home
Woman & Home
Grace Walsh

This 3-move wall Pilates workout can help you build a stronger core and improve your balance

Woman smiling and leaning against concrete wall in Pilates studio, representing wall Pilates.

Wall Pilates might be the most popular stretching and low-impact strength workout of the year but the benefits are very much here to stay. 

Wall Pilates is a simple way to start Pilates for beginners since, as the name suggests, the practice uses a wall for support during each exercise. You don't need a gym membership, unlike other popular forms of Pilates. You don't even need one of the best yoga mats to get started - although it's advisable if you want to stay comfortable. 

That's not to say it's an easy workout though as the focus remains on strengthening the core, improving balance, and maintaining coordination. Here, to walk us through what wall Pilates is all about, woman&home speaks to two certified instructors. 

3 Wall Pilates moves to try:
1. Wall roll down
2. Single leg balance
3. Wall squat

What is wall Pilates? 

Wall Pilates is another variation of the classic low-impact workout, says Caroline Lucas, a certified instructor, yoga and meditation expert who works with Karma Studios. "It focuses on the six original principles of the practice: centring, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow," she explains. "The wall adds an extra dimension to these principles, enhancing our ability to focus on the body’s alignment and movement. This is particularly beneficial in developing core strength and stability, which are at the heart of Pilates." 

Earlier in the year, the practice started cropping up on social media platforms like TikTok, as teachers revealed the benefits of making use of the wall in their practice to add variation to the traditional mat-based moves. 

While we don't take notice of many social media workout trends (12-3-30 workout aside, of course), this one is worth paying attention to. The wall in this form of Pilates can offer an integral support for strengthening and stretching the muscles, something that those new to the practice or looking to improve their posture may benefit from. 

Benefits of a wall Pilates workout

1. Wall Pilates may be more accessible for some people

Lucas suggests that one of the reasons why wall Pilates has become so popular in recent years is that it's more accessible, meaning anyone can do it regardless of their current fitness level or equipment. 

"Unlike traditional Pilates, which often requires specialised equipment, wall Pilates can be practiced with just a wall and minimal extras," she says. "This makes it an attractive option for people looking to practice Pilates at home or in spaces with limited equipment. The wall serves as a versatile tool, offering resistance, support, and feedback, which aids in perfecting technique and deepening the effectiveness of each exercise." 

2. It's great for injury recovery

While wall Pilates found a new audience this year, it's been around for years as a useful tool is rehabilitation settings, says the instructor. "The controlled and supportive nature of wall-based exercises makes them ideal for individuals recovering from injuries, surgeries, or dealing with chronic pain conditions," she says. 

It's also an even-lower impact form of exercise, so it may be suitable for those looking to do Pilates every day as well. Whereas the traditional form of Pilates, while very beneficial, may be too intense. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Wall Pilates focuses on core strength and stability

We can often underestimate the importance of good core strength and stability, but as the core plays such an integral role in reducing the risk of lower back pain and pelvic floor problems, as well as improving balance and coordination, it's essential to maintain this throughout life.

Luckily, you can do Pilates for strength training and using the wall in this exercise will help improve your confidence in other exercises - and in daily life - as it forces you to focus on balance and coordination as well. 

"The stability provided by the wall allows practitioners to focus on controlling their movements, which in turn improves their overall balance and coordination. This is particularly beneficial for older adults, and those recovering from injuries," says Lucas.

Additionally, this form of Pilates can help to develop the mind-muscle connection that can help with maintaining proper form, further reducing the risk of injury when it comes to doing other, more intense activities, like swimming as a workout or hiking.

4. It offers something different

Even if you've been practising Pilates for many years, there's something to be gained from this particular type of Pilates workout, says Jenny Haynes, a mind and body trainer at Third Space Canary Wharf.

"It isn't a style that I’d say would necessarily stand up on it's own as a regular class, but the wall can be a fun way to add some variations to some of the classic moves; recruiting muscles in different ways, and adding a playful element to some of your movements," she says. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A wall Pilates workout to try at home

Looking to try wall Pilates at home? Try three rounds of this routine, holding each exercise for at least 30 seconds to a minute. Many of the best yoga apps offer various Pilates routines to follow along with as well.

Wall roll down

A wall roll down is a core movement in wall Pilates, explains Lucas, and one that focuses on the spine and core muscles. "This technique enhances spinal flexibility and activates the abdominal muscles. The feedback from the wall gives this exercise a whole new feel." 

How to do it: 

  • "Standing with the back against the wall, gradually roll down vertebra by vertebra, tucking the chin and bending forward, and then slowly roll back up," she suggests. 

Single leg balance

A single-leg balance is, much like the name suggests, an exercise that enhances balance and stability. It engages the core and leg muscles, says Lucas. 

How to do it: 

  • "Stand with your back to the wall and lift one leg off the ground," she says. "Hold the position." 

Wall squat

Wall squats strengthen and stretch the muscles around the spine, hamstrings, and calves, helping to improve core strength and posture. 

How to do it:

  • "Place your feet on the floor, hip distance, and sit down into a squat position, using the wall to support your spine and head," says Haynes. "Your back should be flat and knees bent to 90 degrees."
  • "Hold and feel the burn in your legs," she says. "For added variations, you could play with lifting and lowering your heels to activate your calves, and lifting the arms in the air and lowering them to add a little shoulder mobility." 

Wall Pilates is a beneficial way to get into the practice, with plenty more sessions available to follow on the various fitness apps out there. While it's beneficial as a very low-impact exercise, it's also not one that gets the heart rate up. According to the NHS, all adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week to reduce the risk of serious disease. So, with that in mind, it's best to aim for a varied workout routine and combine wall Pilates with a low-impact cardio workout like indoor cycling, for instance. 

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