S is for The Saw

The Saw is a lovely classical Pilates exercise which mobilises the mid-back and strengthens the spine. The Saw also tones the waistline and stretches the hamstrings and hip flexors amongst other muscle groups.

School Of Pilates Posted Aug 17, 2015 Future Fit Training


The starting position is with the legs extended and slightly apart (slightly wider than shoulder-width apart), arms extended reaching to the side, palms facing in, sitting tall with flexed feet and the deep abdominal muscles engaged.

The exercise starts with an inhalation and a rotation to the side; arms remain reaching away, pelvis still with the spine in vertical position during this first movement. On exhalation flex the torso forward, articulating through the spine from the head, reaching the front hand toward the opposite foot. The back arm rotates, palm facing away (thumb pointing toward the floor), both arms remain in alignment and parallel to the floor, giving the look of a saw.  This entire first phase of the exercise uses the deep abdominal muscles to pull the upper torso forward to assist in strengthening them.  The next action is, on inhalation, to extend the torso back up, articulating the spine out of the flexed position, drawing the shoulder blades back and down, then on exhalation rotate the torso to the other side, reaching the other hand toward the opposite foot.

The focus and watch-out points of this exercise are to try and keep the pelvis still throughout and keep the transversus abdominis engaged throughout.

When combined with the correct breathing technique, The Saw helps to expel stale air from the lungs while emphasising lateral thoracic breathing.

It is recommended to learn and practise the Spine Twist exercise before progressing to The Saw as this focuses on spinal rotation and will assist with the mobility and flexibility of the mid-spine.

If your clients have tight hip muscles, gluteals or lower backs, offer a yoga block or rolled up towel for them to sit on as this will help with sitting taller. Also slightly bent knees will make the exercise easier.