Mastering the Wheelbarrow

Mastering the Wheelbarrow: Essential Tips for Pilates Enthusiasts

The wheelbarrow is a fundamental exercise at Mantra, known for the ability to strengthen the core, improve stability, and enhance overall body alignment. Whether you’re new to Pilates or looking to refine your technique, these tips will help you get the most out of your Wheelbarrow practice.

1. Start with Proper Alignment

 The wheelbarrow has a similar starting position to a modified push up position. Without any movement at all, you should be engaging your core to start with proper alignment. Before you begin the movement, ensure your body is in the correct position:

  • Hand Placement: Place your hands on the front platform. Depending on your wrist comfort, your hands can wrap around the sides, stay flat on the platform, or hold handrails. All of these placements are fantastic, so experiment with what works for you!
  • Knees Placement: Place your knees behind the front pockets or front carriage strap. Knees can be together, or hip distance apart. 
  • Neutral Spine: Lower the hips down and forward to create a diagonal line from head to tail. Maintain a neutral spine by engaging your core and avoiding any arching or rounding of the back.
  • Stabilize your Shoulders: Keep your shoulders away from your ears, broadening across the collarbones. Press into your hands to avoid sinking in the upper back,

2. Engage Your Core

The Wheelbarrow is all about core engagement. 

  • Activate Deep Abdominals: Draw your navel towards your spine to activate your deep abdominal muscles.
  • Avoid Sagging: Ensure your hips don’t sag towards the floor. Keep your pelvis level and stable throughout the movement.

3. Controlled Movement

Precision is key in Pilates. When you are at the starting position without movement, you are engaging your core in a stable position. As you add movement, the position becomes less stable, therefore making the body and muscles work harder to stay engaged.

  • Slow and Steady: Press the carriage open with straight arms and stable spine. Then pull the carriage closed keeping the hips still. Pull forward with the arms, not the knees. Move slowly and deliberately to maintain control and maximize muscle engagement.
  • Maintain Form: Maintain the diagonal line from your head to your tail throughout the movement. 
  • Range of Motion: Only extend as far as you can maintain proper form. Quality over quantity is crucial.

4. Progress at Your Own Pace – Tips for Modifying

Listen to your body and progress gradually. 

  • Limit Range of Motion: If you’re new to the Wheelbarrow, start with smaller movements and gradually increase your range of motion.
  • Add an Extra Yellow Spring: Adding an extra light spring while performing wheelbarrow at the front of the machine can provide more support. The extra spring will assist you in bringing the carriage back in.
  • Incorporate Your Breathing: Take a deep breath in to prepare for the movement. Exhale as you press the carriage away from the platform, engaging your core muscles even more.
  • Perform As a Static Hold: Without any movement, hold the wheelbarrow position with shoulders over hands. Engage your core while breathing, feeling the tightness in your abdominals. You can hold here a few seconds, then you may add the movement with a small range of motion, coming back to a static hold with shoulders over hands. Holding the position, and maybe doing only 1 or 2 movements in the exercise time, is more efficient than releasing the body out of the exercise completely.

5. Seek Feedback

Sometimes, a little guidance can make a big difference:

  • Instructor Cues: Pay attention to verbal cues from your Pilates instructor. They can help you correct your form and enhance your practice.
  • When needed, ask your instructor for additional feedback before or after class.



The Wheelbarrow is a powerful exercise that can transform your Pilates practice by building core strength and improving overall body alignment. By focusing on proper alignment, core engagement, controlled movement, and consistent practice, you can master the Wheelbarrow and enjoy its numerous benefits. Like any Pilates exercise, consistency is crucial for progress. Remember, every body is different, so progress at your own pace and seek guidance when needed. Happy practicing!


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