Stories from Good Moves

Think full-body Pilates is hard? Try adding a resistance band with this 30-minute workout

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsMay 7, 2020

Whenever I ordered ice cream (you know, in times when one could still pay for a scoop), I always asked for chocolate sprinkles on top. I like to think of resistance bands as the jimmies that add a little extra something, something to any workout—and this week’s Good Moves episode, hosted by East River Pilates instructor Floss Brolsma, proves that resistance band Pilates is no exception.

In just a half an hour, you’ll move through a full-body Pilates session that dials up Pilates’ signature, slow-mo movements with the help of the bands. The result is a workout that’s low-impact, high reward. So grab a mat, Pilates socks, and resistance band (like the sprinkles—totally optional). Let’s get moving.

Try the 30-minute Pilates sesh

1. Squat: Start from standing. Step into your resistance band and slide it up so it’s sitting right above your kneecaps. Place your feet underneath your hips. Squat down, reaching your butt back and your arms parallel to your ears. Squeeze your glutes to come back to the top.

2. Squat leg extension—right: From the bottom of your squat, shift your weight into your left foot and step your right foot out to the side. Come onto the tips of your toes. Tap the toes back into squat position. Tap them one foot behind you. Come back to squat. Stabilize through the left hip.

Repeat your squat leg extension on the left side. 

3. Outer thigh squeeze squat: Still at the bottom of your squat, squeeze the knees together and apart, thinking about spiraling in, then out from the hips as you do so.

4. Squat pulse: From your squat position, raise your arms alongside your ears. You should be able to draw a straight line from your fingertips to your sitz bones. Push your outer thighs into the band and pulse up and down into the band.

5. Plank toe tap: Straighten your legs and come to stand at the back of your mat. Roll down into a forward fold and walk forward into plank. (Your resistance band should still be just above your knees.) Keeping your movement completely isolated, tap the right toe to the right, then bring it to center. Tap the left foot to the left, bring it to center. Keep the resistance on the band.

6. Plank leg lift: From plank position, lift your left leg up one foot and bring it back down. Lift your right leg up one foot, place it back down.

7. Downward dog: Lift your hips and go back into downward dog to give your core a quick rest.

8. Hover leg lift: Come back forward into plank and drop your knees to come into four-point kneel. On an exhale, hover the knees one inch off the ground. Just like you did before in plank, lift your left toes one inch off the ground. Place them down and do the same thing on your right.

9. Child’s pose: Place your knees back on the ground and sit back in child’s pose for a quick rest.

10. Leg lift—right: Return to your four-point kneeling position and stretch your right leg back, placing your toes on your mat. Lift your right leg up to hip level, then touch the toes back down. Point or flex the toes.

11. Leg lift and arm extension: In the same position, stretch the left arm forward, bring the right foot to hip height and hold.

Repeat moves 10 and 11 on the opposite side. 

12. Child’s pose: Return to your knees and press back into child’s pose for a breather.

13. Bent leg lift—left: Come to lie down on the right side of your body, arm extended beneath your ear for support. (The band is still in the same spot!) Bend your knees and float the top leg off the leg below. Float the leg down one inch, and then push up into the resistance band.

14. Extended leg lift—leftStraighten the left leg and repeat the same movement, floating the leg one inch down, then one inch up.

15. Leg sweep—left: With the left leg still straight, sweep the leg forward and backward. This movement should feel super controlled. Keep your spine neutral and try not to shift through the middle.

16. Bottom leg lift: Keep the left leg still and straighten the right leg, bringing it up to meet the left. Tap the right leg down to the mat, then back up to the left leg.

17. Left clam: Relax your hips onto the floor. Bend your right elbow and use it to prop your upper body up. Squeeze your heels together and bring the left knee up, squeezing into the band. Lower the knee back down to meet the right.

18. Figure four stretch: Sit all the way up, bringing your right ankle over your left knee. Once you feel nice and stretched, switch your feet. Bring the left ankle over the right knee and feel the stretch.

Repeat moves 13 through 18 on the opposite side.

19. Bridge with thigh press: Come to lie down on your back with the resistance band still in place. Bend your knees and engage your glutes to press your hips up toward the sky. As you exhale press your thighs outward, creating resistance with the band. Return to center.

20. Bridge with arm extension: From your bridge, lift your arms up overhead, then bring them back down by your sides. Keep your belly tucked and your bottom squeezing.

21. Bridge lift: With your arms pointing straight up into the sky, press your hips to the sky then place them back on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and press your feet down into the floor.

22. Bridge with alternating outer thigh squeeze: Return to the top of your bridge and press your right leg out to the right side while you extend your left arm out to the left. Return the right leg and left arm to center and press the left thigh to the left side and the right arm to the right side.

23. Arm extension in table topSlowly release your bridge and remove the resistance band from your legs. (At last!). Loop the resistance band around your wrists. Push the back of your wrists into the resistance band. This move will be subtle, but effective.

24. Table top arm extensionLift your legs into the air, keeping them bent. Press into the bands with the backs of your wrists and extend your arms up and over your head. Return to center.

25. Table top leg extension: Bring your hands straight up over your head again, hand still resisting against the bands. Lower your left leg to hover just above the ground. Lift it back up and switch sides.

26. Bent knee side extension: Tap just the toes onto the floor. Push the back of your wrists into the band and let your left knee float toward the left. Bring it back to center and repeat on the right side.

27. Tabletop side extension: Lift your legs back up so they’re parallel to the floor. Squeeze the feet together and push the left knee out to the side. Return to the center and repeat on the right side.

28. Pilates sit-up: Release the band and clasp your hands behind your neck. Engage your core and lift your neck and shoulders off the ground. Lie back down.

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