You only need five minutes to build strength and develop your core with this quick Pilates routine

Stretch, soothe and strengthen your muscles

Staci Alden demonstrating a side lying leg kick
(Image credit: Balanced Body / Staci Alden)

We all know exercise is good for us, but it can be difficult to find time to do it. 

Exercise snacking is a simple way to squeeze some mood-boosting movement into your day. You could do a few squats, lunges, push-ups or burpees. Or, you could try doing something like this five-minute Pilates routine from ACE-certified personal trainer and Balanced Body Pilates educator Staci Alden

Simply do the nine movements for 30 seconds each (except for the supine leg circles, where you'll do 30 seconds on each leg) to stretch and strengthen your whole body from head to toe. 

Staci Alden's five-minute Pilates routine

1. Seated breathing

Balanced Body's Staci Alden demonstrating seated breathing

(Image credit: Balanced Body / Staci Alden)

Time: 30 seconds

  • Sit cross-legged or with your legs straight out in front of you with your hands on your rib cage. 
  • Take a full breath in, trying to expand the lungs under your hands.
  • On the exhale, draw the belly in and lengthen the spine to sit tall.

2. Half roll back

Balanced Body's Staci Alden demonstrating a half roll back

(Image credit: Balanced Body / Staci Alden)

Time: 30 seconds

  • Sit upright with your legs out in front of you, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. 
  • Holding your arms straight out in front of you, exhale, and as you do tuck your tailbone and lean back halfway, really trying to sink the tailbone down.
  • Stop halfway, then slowly sit back up to the starting position. 

3. Half roll back with twist

Balanced Body's Staci Alden demonstrating a roll back with twist

(Image credit: Balanced Body / Staci Alden)

Time: 30 seconds

  • Sit with legs out in front of you, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold your arms straight out in front of you.
  • Exhale and, as you do, tuck your tailbone and lean back halfway while twisting to one side (as pictured above).
  • From here, slowly sit back up to the starting position then repeat, alternating sides. 

4. Supine leg circles

Balanced Body's Staci Alden demonstrating a supine leg circle

(Image credit: Balanced Body / Staci Alden)

Time: 30 seconds on each leg

  • Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, pressing into the ground with your hands. 
  • Lift one leg up to the ceiling and point your toes upwards. 
  • Draw small circles with the raised toes in the air. If your hips begin to move, reduce the size of the circles you are drawing. 

5. Glute bridge

Balanced Body's Staci Alden demonstrating a glute bridge

(Image credit: Balanced Body / Staci Alden)

Time: 30 seconds

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and your feet flat on the ground, hip-distance apart. 
  • Press through your feet to lift your hips so your thighs and torso form a straight line. 
  • Pause at the top for a second, then lower your hips back to the starting position. 

6. Side lying leg kick

Time: 30 seconds on each side

  • Lie on your side with your lower arm bent under your lower ear to support your head. Stack your hips on top of each other and place your top hand on the mat in front of you for stability.
  • Hinging at the hip, kick your top leg forward and back. Aim to keep your hips stable and upper body still.

7. Swan prep

Balanced Body's Staci Alden demonstrating swan prep

(Image credit: Balanced Body / Staci Alden)

Time: 30 seconds

  • Lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you. Keeping your elbows tucked to your side, place your hands on the mat either side of your shoulders. Pull your shoulders back then down. 
  • Breathe in and lift your chest away from the floor. Keep your eyes on the mat and your feet heavy on the ground throughout—think about making your body as long as possible from your head to your toes.

8. Leg pull front

Time: 30 seconds

  • Find a plank position, spreading your weight between your hands and toes. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders. If this feels too difficult, you can lower your knees to the ground.
  • Lift one leg and reach it toward the ceiling while keeping your hips even. 
  • Shift your weight forward and back, as pictured in the two images above. 
  • Lower your raised leg and repeat on the other side. 

9. Cat stretch

Balanced Body's Staci Alden demonstrating a cat stretch

(Image credit: Balanced Body / Staci Alden)

Time: 30 seconds

  • Start on all fours, with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. 
  • Push your pelvis forward to round your back.
  • Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat.

Want a new mat for extra grip and cushioning on hard, slippery floors? Then take a look at our guide to the best yoga mats.

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.


Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.