Pilates Roll Up Exercise

The Pilates Roll Up is one of the most difficult Pilates exercises to perform correctly, and without straining the lower back.

The problem is that most people are so determined to perform this exercise that they will do whatever it takes to get their body off the floor…even if that means using momentum from the hip flexors and the lumbar spine.

The Pilates Roll Up, done incorrectly over time can put more tension in your back and hip flexors.

Learn the Progressions here today and see how effective this Pilates ab exercise is and how great it feels when done correctly.

I have them detailed below from easiest to hardest.

Beginner Level Pilates Roll Up with Ball or Towel:


Sit tall with your legs extended and fingertips reaching towards your feet.

pilates beginner exercise image

As you exhale, scoop out your abdominals and reach your waistline back toward the ball, letting it support your lower back.

Use a rolled up towel or mat if you don't have a ball to roll into.

Inhale and hold as you drop your shoulders. Exhale to curl or articulate your spine forward, leading with the crown of your head.

Repeat up to 6-8 repetitions.

Intermediate Level Pilates Roll Up with Band or Strap:


Sit tall with legs extended and the stretch band wide around your feet.

 pilates band exercise image

As you exhale, scoop out your abdominal muscles and, keeping some tension on the band reach your waistline back and toward the mat.

You may want to peel your spine down all the way, or just to your shoulder blades.

Inhale as you bring your head up first. Then exhale, and with long arms roll your spine back up, keeping your bottom anchored to the mat. Be sure to keep tension on the band.

Repeat up to 6 times.

Find out more about how to do Pilates exercises with the resista-band here.

Advanced Level Pilates Roll Up:


Sit tall with your legs extended and arms reaching forward. Your bottom/hips act as a support or anchor for this articulation exercise.

pilates roll up image

Take a breath in and as you exhale scoop out your abdominals. Reach your waistline toward the mat, rolling your spine down one vertebra at a time.

Inhale deeply, letting your spine stretch out on the mat. Exhale as you curl from your head, peeling your spine back up the mat one vertebra at a time.

Repeat for 6-8 times. Stop if you feel like you are using momentum or whipping yourself off the floor.


Use your ABS! Do not use momentum to perform this exercise, as it might strain your back and cause tightness in the hip flexors. Using momentum is not as effective in strengthening your abdominal muscles.

The Roll Up Pilates is known as an articulation exercise, and, as it says…a rolling motion of the spine or a peeling off the mat. When done correctly it resembles a large “C” Curve coming up and down the mat. Notice this "C" in the picture.

The roll up helps to articulate or open the vertebra of your spine, stretching your back and strengthening your deep transverse abdominal muscles. Enjoy!

See the Roll Up and more classic exercises compiled for you in the new revised Pilates Ebook here.

Check out all of the Exercise of the Month Moves!

Leave Pilates Roll Up and find more ways Pilates exercises can benefit you here.

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