If you’re going to practice Pilates, there’s one important exercise you need to learn before almost all the others—Pilates Table top position. Some folks might call it a transitional pose, but don’t let them fool you. Practicing this simple exercise is a great way to help you regain abdominal strength and pelvic stability, and it’ll make you feel stronger than you have in years.
Back when I was recovering from a broken neck, lifting my legs to Pilates Table top was a maximal challenge. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but legs are really heavy!
So, when you ask your abdominals and back muscles to work together to hold your pelvis and spine in neutral while you lift your leg, it doesn’t always work correctly on the first try.
But, with a bit of practice and mindful movement, you’ll be easily lifting your legs to the Pilates Table top position in no time. This is really important because correctly doing Table top like a pro–even though doing the whole exercise takes only a few seconds–is the key to building a strong, healthy core.
Then, once you’ve mastered Table top, you’ll find that you use it all the time when you’re doing Pilates. This crucial exercise is used to help you transition on to other Pilates staples like:
- The Hundred,
- Single leg stretch,
- Double leg stretch,
- Scissors, and even
- one variation of Rolling like a ball.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to do the Pilates Table top position.
Psst! If you want some extra help to rehabilitate your body, I’m here to help! I created an online course called Spinal Rejuvenation specifically to help you use easy-to-do exercises like Table top to relieve sciatica, hip pain, and low back pain from the privacy of home. Just click here to learn more.
How to Do Pilates Table Top Position Like a Pro
Warning: Although Pilates Table top can be a great core-strengthening exercise and is perfect for rehabilitating your body, you want to make sure you’re cleared by your doctor before you proceed.
- Begin on your back with your knees bent, heels in line with your SITs bones. (Your SITs bones are your sacral ischial tuberosities, but most people just call them the SITs bones because they’re the bones that press into the mat when you sit on your bottom.) Or, you can just separate your feet a fist’s distance apart.
- Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- Make sure your spine is in neutral.
- If your abdominals are weak, make a triangle with your hands by connecting your pointer fingers and thumbs. Place this under your tailbone (sacrum) to help keep your pelvis neutral throughout the exercise. Otherwise, let your arms rest by your side.
- Take a nice, deep inhale. Feel your torso fill with air.
- Completely exhale. Feel the air leave your abdominal cavity and chest, but don’t let your spine move. At the end of your exhale, you should feel completely deflated.
- While keeping the muscles active that connect your ribs to your hips, inhale through your nose into the sides of your ribs. I think of trying to close any space between my armpits and my ribs.
- As you exhale through pursed lips, lift one leg so the knee is directly over the hip. Make sure the ankle is in line with the knee. Lift the other leg so they match. Either flex, point, or floint your foot at the ankle. (When you floint, your foot looks like it’s wearing an invisible high-heeled shoe. This is a great option for those who get foot cramps.)
- Engage the inner thighs (adductors) so you can feel both your adductors and your abdominals working.
- Hold and inhale into the sides of your ribs.
- Exhale through pursed lips and set one foot down, then the other.
- You can do this exercise as many times as you’d like. It is key, however, to pay attention to your form. As soon as your form starts to deteriorate, it’s time to stop.
For the Visual Learners…
Sometimes, it’s just easier to have someone show you what to do and talk you through it. Here’s a video to help.
Before You Do Pilates Table Top…
If you’re recovering from an injury or getting ready to start learning Pilates, Pilates
As you practice this exercise, make sure you move mindfully. You can do so much good for the body when you move with clear intentions.
However, when you move thoughtlessly, it can cause injury. So, pay attention to what you’re doing.
Want to Learn More Exercises to Help You Relieve Hip and Back Pain?
Since 2002, I’ve been helping clients learn easy exercises to relieve their aches + pains. When I personally struggled with hip and back pain, I researched and tried all the best natural pain-relief methods and exercises I could find.
I developed a system to help me feel better and get back to doing the activities I used to love. Then, I took this system and used it to help my clients relieve their aches + pains.
Because I strongly believe no one should have to suffer from pain, I developed Spinal Rejuvenation. This way, people who would never be able to be an in-person client of mine can still reap the benefit of learning these super-easy pain relief exercises.