Use this 20-minute Pilates session to develop functional strength

You can try this session anywhere, all you need is your bodyweight

A woman performing a side plank as part of a Pilates session
(Image credit: Future)

The festive season is a tricky time to stick to your fitness routine, often sending you on the road or leaving you with limited time to exercise. Fortunately, this full-body Pilates session only takes 20 minutes. 

It doesn't require any equipment either so, even if you find yourself in a hotel room or staying with relatives, you can still give it a go. However, we would advise investing in one of the best yoga mats (opens in new tab) to guarantee a grippy, cushioned platform for your practice. 

The session has been created by personal trainer and nutrition coach Heather Robertson (opens in new tab), and comprises a warm-up, two circuits consisting of five bodyweight movements each, and a cool-down.

For both circuits, you are challenged to perform each movement for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, then move on to the next exercise. After you've finished two rounds of each circuit, the workout is complete and you're ready to cool down. 

To make this session even more simple, you can follow Robertson's video below. Pay close attention to how she performs each movement, and copy her technique to perfect your own form. 

Watch Heather Robertson's 20-minute Pilates session

Pilates is a great way to get your fitness fix, using a combination of simple, repetitive exercises to work your muscles. This approach comes with a whole host of health benefits, including increasing your strength, upping your endurance, improving your flexibility and even boosting your balance. If this routine looks quite challenging, try getting started with our Pilates for beginners plan (opens in new tab) before giving it a go. 

All the movements included in this session are low impact too, putting less stress on your joints than high impact activities like a trek on one of the best treadmills (opens in new tab) or a HIIT workout for fat loss (opens in new tab) filled with burpees and broad jumps. As a result, this may be a good option for anyone recovering from (or looking to avoid) injury.

Pilates sessions also tend to be packed with core strengthening exercises (opens in new tab), which is one of the reasons they are so effective at improving posture. A study published in the PLOS ONE (opens in new tab) journal found that eight weeks of core training "may improve static balance, core endurance and running economy". 

So, if you want to build functional full-body strength, look no further than this time-efficient Pilates session. 

Harry Bullmore

Harry Bullmore is a fitness writer covering everything from reviews to features for LiveScience, T3, TechRadar, Fit&Well and more. So, whether you’re looking for a new fitness tracker or wondering how to shave seconds off your 5K PB, chances are he’s written something to help you improve your training.


When not writing, he’s most likely to be found experimenting with a wide variety of training methods in his home gym or trying to exhaust his ever-energetic puppy.


Prior to joining Future, Harry wrote health and fitness product reviews for publications including Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Runner’s World. Before this, he spent three years as a news reporter with work in more than 70 national and regional newspapers.