Pilates instructor shares a 20-minute Pilates workout for developing healthy hips and strengthening your lower body

Woman performing back bend exercise on yoga mat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Here’s a 20-minute Pilates hip workout that offers hip-strengthening exercises for beginners who like to exercise low-impact and away from the reformer machine. 

The “Pilates for Strong Hips” workout targets the whole body while stretching, lengthening and strengthening the muscles surrounding the hips to build a more mobile, stable and flexible body. It’s a mat Pilates session, so you only need one of the best yoga mats (or similar) that you can roll out to protect your joints. 

Before I recommend any workout, I like to try it for myself, so I rolled out my mat at home and hit play on the 20-minute Pilates class — here’s why I love it. 

Watch the 20-minute Pilates hip workout by Flow with Mira:

Flow with Mira garners plenty of attention on her YouTube channel, and this workout has amassed nearly half a million views to date. What determines hip strengthening exercises for beginners is your experience and lifestyle, so what works for one person may not suit another. 

That said, I’d recommend this Pilates workout for most people — although anyone with an injury or illness should always exercise with caution and clear their exercise routine with a relevant medical professional first. At the end of the day, if something doesn't feel good for your body, don't do it.

20 min Pilates Hip Workout - Hip Strengthening Exercises for Beginners - YouTube 20 min Pilates Hip Workout - Hip Strengthening Exercises for Beginners - YouTube
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Mira says “Stretching and strengthening your hip muscles helps build stability and flexibility so you can move with ease and avoid injury. Many people have weak or inflexible hips due to excessive sitting and too little exercise.”

We know that as little as an hour of Pilates added regularly and consistently to your exercise routine can strengthen and lengthen, build and tone. Some of the main benefits of Pilates include better posture and flexibility, reduced injury risk and an increased range of motion. Pilates is also viewed as one of the most functional forms of movement you can practice.

Writer Sam performing cat-cow on her yoga mat during Pilates workout

(Image credit: Future)

Twenty minutes is enough to get you working hard, but accessible enough to slot into a lunch break or a spare chunk of time during your day. Mira explains that the workout aims to target the muscles that support the hip joints to “give you a strong and stable pelvis,” which should contribute toward better daily functional movement and flexibility. 

While this isn’t signposted as an ab workout, learning how to activate your core properly during any workout will help you improve your mind-muscle connection as you exercise, so I recommend consciously activating yours throughout. 

As with all Pilates routines, there’s a strong focus on breathwork, meaning how you use your inhale and exhale as you move. Activating your diaphragmatic breath means directing your breathing toward your stomach rather than the more restrictive chest breathing we might subconsciously subscribe to during the day. 

According to sources like the Cleveland Clinic, diaphragmatic breathing and breathing exercises in general during workouts have been shown to improve muscle function and help you relax.

A Pilates instructor shares a 20-minute ‘healthy hips’ Pilates workout for beginners — here’s my verdict

The session primarily works on the gluteal muscles, lower back, hamstrings, hip flexors, core and quads — all muscles that contribute toward spine and hip support and posture.

As someone who passionately enjoys CrossFit, dynamic yoga and short-distance running, I find Pilates boring (sorry, Pilates lovers) but entirely necessary for my body. Regularly practicing Pilates will only make you stronger and more mobile heading into higher intensity workouts.

If you’re looking for something more high-intensity, you won’t find it here. It’s a session pretty typical of mat Pilates — lots of controlled, slow movements that require moving with your breath and consciously squeezing and activating muscle groups. 

That doesn’t mean the workout won’t feel intense — you just won’t leave sweating and breathless. One key lesson I’ve learned from being a Pilates beginner is that you can build a lot of heat by slowing things down and learning to control your movements. 

Through a combination of higher rep ranges and time under tension (working muscles for longer through a range of motion), you can build a powerhouse body, better muscular endurance and undo the effects of prolonged sitting. 

I highly recommend this short Pilates routine if you struggle to activate your hips and glutes or sit for long periods. If you want to follow up with a more dynamic session, I’ve included a few more options below, but you'll still leave this session feeling stimulated.

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.