I tried this 10-minute upper-body Pilates routine and it activated my core muscles and challenged my balance

One writer swaps her usual weights for a bodyweight workout and the results are impressive

Woman doing plank shoulder taps in living room.
(Image credit: Alice Porter)

I lift weights on a regular basis, but I've recently been experimenting with bodyweight workouts to diversify the way I move and the muscles I use.

Equipment-free workouts such as Pilates—which involve slow, controlled movements with an emphasis on the core—can help to improve your balance, coordination and stability. These are all essential for moving safely through your workouts and everyday  life. 

I decided to try a workout created by Pilates instructor Georgia Weibel, designed to strengthen the upper-body. I usually do dumbbell exercises to strengthen my arms, as well as dynamic compound movements such as thrusters with a barbell. Surprisingly, the exercises in this routine are all done without weights in a plank position. 

It's a short routine, so I simply rolled out my yoga mat and did it during my lunch break.

Watch Georgia Weibel's upper-body Pilates workout

The sequence involves completing eight repetitions of each movement and three sets in total. This took me less than 10 minutes, which was perfect for a busy day. I definitely felt like it worked my core and shoulders and activated a wide range of upper-body muscles.

Starting with a downward dog variation was a great way to begin as it helped open up my stiff shoulders. This move also required some coordination and balance, as you have to keep your hips stable while crossing each leg over the other. The same was true for the plank leg taps and shoulder taps as I had to focus on balancing my body weight and bracing my core to keep my hips steady.

Woman doing downward dog variation in living room.

(Image credit: Alice Porter)

The Pilates press was the easiest exercise in this routine for me, as I'm used to doing full press-ups which are more challenging. However, this move still required core stability and it's a great modification to try if you're still working towards doing a full press-up. 

I'd like to incorporate this routine and others like it into my workout schedule going forward. It helped to target a range of muscles while also working my balance and coordination. I think it would also make a great warm-up for an upper-body day, or a quick finisher for those days when I have a bit of extra energy.

Looking for more equipment-free routines? Have a go at these yoga stretches for beginners or try this beginner's bodyweight workout

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.