Try This: Saw

Try This: Saw



Saw is one of my favorite mat Pilates exercises because it’s a great stretch for your back and helps you feel more flexible and mobile. It’s a great exercise to warm up your spine and the rest of the body before class.

Why you need to be doing Saw

  • It’s a great stretch for your upper and mid back
  • It helps your shoulder blades to become more mobile
  • It improves the stability of the pelvis
  • It helps to make the spine more mobile by increasing rotation
  • It helps teach us how to sit up tall
  • It helps decompress the spine

How to perform Saw


Step 1

Sit up with a tall spine on the mat with the legs straight and open, shoulder width apart (at the edges of your mat). The arms should be lifted out to the side, level with the bottom of the sternum. Sit high on your sit bones.

Step 2

Inhale, rotate the torso to the left and reach the right arm toward the left foot.

Step 3

Exhale, engage the abdominals and round the head and torso forward, reaching the right arm toward the little toe on the left foot. Reach the left arm back while turning the shoulder in toward the center of the body (medial rotation) so the palm faces the ceiling.

Step 4

Inhale, return to the starting position with the weight centered on the sit bones and the arms out to the sides. The spine should feel a little taller every time you come back to center and you should feel as though you’re lifting your pelvis off your legs!

Rotate the torso to the right and reach the left arm toward the right foot and repeat on the other side.

Saw Modifications

Here are a few modifications or tips to help you find success with this exercise.

  • For tight hamstrings, bend the knees slightly. You can also sit on a rolled-up towel to help you sit tall on your sit bones with straight legs.
  • For low back and hip injuries, you can bend the knees slightly or use a rolled-up towel to take the stress out of the low back and hips.
  • For shoulder issues (if the arms are uncomfortable at shoulder height), you can bend the elbows and place the palms on the top of the shoulders.
  • For those individuals with osteoporosis, this exercise should be avoided.

This truly is one of my favorite mat Pilates exercises that I love to teach in class or do myself when taking a class! As in any exercise, the fun is in the challenge of doing it correctly every time with the correct form.



Charlotte Nelson is a certified Pilates and TRX instructor at ABC Pilates in Laguna Niguel, California. Charlotte wants to pass along the same passion and enthusiasm for Pilates that she developed after using Pilates to successfully recover from a back injury. Pilates practice didn’t just help return Charlotte to a state of wellness and fitness, it changed her life. Her philosophy about Pilates is simple: it should be fun and improve the quality of your life!
Click here to learn more about Charlotte and the other ABC Instructors.


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