Pilates sculpt bar workouts are the new wall Pilates - 5 workouts that promise to level up your strength

Move over, wall Pilates.

Home workout equipment used for Pilates sculpt bar workouts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Another day, another Pilates trend to follow: Pilates sculpt bar workouts are being hailed as the new wall Pilates, but if you're wondering what on earth they are and how to do them - you've come to the right place.

One of the (many) reasons we love the low impact workout is that it's largely equipment-free, but investing in a few select pieces of kit (such as a Pilates sculpt bar) can really level up your home practice. And they're certainly popular right now, with more of us than ever trying new ways of shaking up our Pilates routine.

Just as wall Pilates had its moment earlier in the year, this summer could well be the season of the sculpt bar, with proponents waxing lyrical over its ability to intensify stretches and add tension to moves.

Keep scrolling to find out what it is, and why it's so good. And don't forget to check out our guide to the best Pilates exercises for beginners, how to do wall Pilates, and the many benefits of Pilates, here - plus, find out how one of our writers got on when she tried doing Pilates core moves every day. Pilates bar exercises at the ready. Keen to invest in the best Pilates bars? We've got an edit of that, too.

What is a Pilates sculpt bar?

First things first - you might be wondering what a Pilates sculpt bar even is, but rest assured, there's nothing too complicated about them.

"A Pilates sculpt bar is a versatile piece of equipment used in Pilates workouts, either in studio or at home," explains Pilates instructor at Human Health, Collette Freeman.

"It consists of a long bar with resistance bands attached to it. The resistance bands provide added tension to the exercises, helping to tone and strengthen muscles more effectively."

Essentially, it's an affordable (and portable) way of harnessing the benefits of reformer-style Pilates, with the loops at the end of the bars acting as reformer straps.

What is a Pilates sculpt bar workout?

So, as you'd imagine, a Pilates sculpt bar workout is very similar to a more traditional-style Pilates class in terms of moves - particularly a reformer class, as the bar allows you to replicate many of the movements of a reformer session.

And be warned: it's not for the faint-hearted. "A Pilates sculpt bar workout is a full-body workout that combines Pilates principles with strength training," says Freeman. "It focuses on improving core strength, flexibility, posture, and overall muscle tone. The sculpt bar adds resistance to traditional Pilates exercises, intensifying the workout and yielding faster results."

If you've ever added intensity to a bodyweight strength class by using resistance bands - the sculpt bar is the same principle.

What are the benefits of trying a Pilates sculpt bar workout?

If you're wondering why you should bother investing in a Pilates sculpt bar, hopefully all will become clear once you've read the impressive benefits. But, if you're still wavering about parting with your hard-earned cash, just think - it's so much cheaper than going to a class IRL.

Essentially, though, the benefits of sculpt bar workout are those that you'd associate with practicing Pilates more generally. Keep scrolling for a recap of the celeb-endorsed benefits.

"Adding a sculpt bar to your Pilates practice means you are able to further lengthen your form and in turn muscles, allowing you to get deeper into your practice," reveals Pilates instructor Aleksandra Warburton. "It also offers variety, making sure you are not bored or repeating the same workout. Bear in mind, though, that it's not strictly a Pilates tool, so instructors aren't trained in how to use it properly, as opposed to more traditional Pilates kit like the magic circle and ball. That said, if you enjoy using it, keep going!"

5 coach-approved Pilates sculpt bar exercises to try today

1. Sculpt bar squats

What? Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding the sculpt bar on your shoulders, and squat.

Why? "This move combines Pilates with the classic strength training squat, targeting the quads, glutes and hamstrings," says Freeman.

How long for? Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps each.

15 MIN PILATES BAR workout for lower body - YouTube 15 MIN PILATES BAR workout for lower body - YouTube
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2. Sculpt bar rows

What? Sit on the floor with your legs extended, holding the bar at chest height. Pull the bar towards you in a rowing motion. Alternatively, you can stand with your feet hip width apart, in the loops.

Why? This move works the shoulders, arms and upper back, helping to improve posture.

How long for? Three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

Pilates with Alice - gym stick/ Pilates bar workout - YouTube Pilates with Alice - gym stick/ Pilates bar workout - YouTube
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3. Sculpt bar lunges

What? Hold the bar overhead, step back into a lunge position, and return to starting position.

Why? "Much like a normal squat, this move engages the legs, glutes, and core," says Freeman.

How long for? Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps on each leg.

GoFit Resist-a-Bar - Lower Body Workout (14 min) - YouTube GoFit Resist-a-Bar - Lower Body Workout (14 min) - YouTube
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4. Sculpt bar chest press

What? A lying chest press exercise using the Pilates Sculpt Bar and resistance bands.

Why? "This move builds upper body strength by targeting the chest and triceps," says Warburton. "It also enhances push strength, making these kinds of everyday movements and activities easier."

How long for? Warburton advises two to three set of 12 to 15 reps.

Pilates Bar Kit With Resistance Band Standing Chest Press Home Exercise Workout - YouTube Pilates Bar Kit With Resistance Band Standing Chest Press Home Exercise Workout - YouTube
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5. Sculpt bar leg lifts

What? Lie on your back, legs extended. Place the bands around your feet and hold the bar above your hips. Lift your legs towards the ceiling while keeping your lower back pressed to the floor. Lower them back down without touching the floor.

Why? "These are great for strengthening the lower abs, helping to create a strong, stable core," says Warburton. "They also improve hip flexor strength, which is essential for lower body mobility and function."

How long for? Two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Pilates Bar Lower Body Workout | Leg Strengthening + Sculpt - YouTube Pilates Bar Lower Body Workout | Leg Strengthening + Sculpt - YouTube
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Shop MC UK's go-to Pilates sculpt bar equipment now

Can I do a Pilates sculpt bar workout from home?

As with most other iterations of the popular practice, it's totally possible to do a Pilates sculpt bar workout from home. That said, if you're new to the practice, it's often best to have a few sessions with a qualified instructor, to ensure your form and technique are on point. This will not only help you avoid injury, but also it'll ensure you get the most bang for your buck, benefits wise.

Anna Bartter
Health Writer

Anna Bartter is a freelance journalist who writes about health, fitness and women's lifestyle for publications including Stylist, Metro and Psychologies, among others. 

She's always on a quest to find a variety of fun and functional workouts that give you the most bang for your workout buck and she's passionate about championing movement for everyone's mental and physical wellbeing.