4 Tips for Mastering the Pilates Roll-Up

Let’s talk the Pilates roll-up. It shows up in a lot of Pilates mat classes and while it looks simple, it’s actually pretty challenging.

If you struggle with this move, know that you’re not alone. It’s also worth noting that the inability to do this movement does not necessarily mean your abs are “weak” or that you are doing it wrong. There are LOTS of reasons why this move can feel tricky, including your body proportions and spinal mobility. Also, this isn’t a movement skill that you’ve practiced at any point in your life, so if it feels alien to you, there’s a reason! (Seriously, when is the last time you needed to do a roll up to perform a task?)

That being said, many of you have asked me what you can do to develop the strength and skills needed to master this move.

Below are three of my favorite strategies for improving your Pilates roll-up AND a follow along video tutorial!

Tip #1: Practice spinal rotation in exercises such as book openers using a theraband

Why this helps: Twisting and side bending your spine can making rolling through it feel easier!

Tip #2: Place a folded towel under your lower back as you practice the movement.

Why this helps: It gives you feedback to move through the stiff parts of your spine that you can’t feel as well. This can increase abdominal engagement and help you move through areas that are harder to access.

Tip #3: Hold into small hand weights (1 to 3 lbs!) as you practice the roll up.

There’s a lot of blah blah big science words for why this works. Just try it and you’ll feel how it makes the movement more accessible. 😉

Tip #4: Wrap a theraband around your feet as you go through the roll up.

The theraband gives you greater assistance and feedback to roll up and down. It’s sort of like using the roll down bar on the Pilates Cadillac without needing a $5,000 piece of equipment.

P.S. Shoutout to The Movement Shop for the “math is hard” Pilates tee that I’m wearing in this video.

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Please note, I am a brand ambassador for The Movement Shop and receive a small commission via the links made in this post. 

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