The dart in Pilates is a beginner level Pilates exercise that targets extending your back.

This exercise primarily works the upper and lower back extensor muscles and widens and stretches the front part of your rib cage. During this exercise, you lie on your stomach and lift your upper body off the mat, supported by your stable pelvis and lifted abs.

The dart in Pilates is one such exercise that is recommended for people with chronic back pain issues, as it helps strengthen the entire back extension muscles in the lower and upper back. .

This exercise also helps protect your lower back and promotes a healthy, long spine. Once you’ve mastered this move and gained adequate stability and strength, you can move on to other Pilates back extension workouts, including swans, double kicks, swimming and more.

However, before you consider adding this exercise to your workout routine, it’s important to learn how to perform it in the right form. You can follow the steps below to practice darting in Pilates accurately.

How to do darts in Pilates? Correct form and technique

To start, be sure to practice this exercise on a Pilates mat or any padded or firm surface.

  • Start by lying on your stomach. Keep your legs together and both arms by your sides.
  • Gently lift your abdominal muscles away from the floor.
  • Breathe easily. As you exhale, keep your abs tucked in and transfer your energy through your spine and the top of your head to slightly lift your entire upper body off the floor.
  • Make sure your pubic bone is directly on the mat to protect your lower back.
  • Now engage your glute and leg muscles, but don’t contract them too much.
  • Your gaze should be lowered and your head should be an extension of your back throughout the exercise.
  • Keep your shoulder blades back and down as your arms extend behind you.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and make sure to breathe deeply.
  • As you exhale, lower your body back to the mat.
  • Relax and repeat the exercise.

Note: The dart in Pilates works best when your chin tucks muscles, i.e. the muscles that stabilize your neck are gently activated. In this position, your chin is not tensed, as the focus is solely on extending your upper back.

If you feel stable and comfortable doing this Pilates exercise, you can make it a little more challenging by opening your chest and looking up to get that amazing feeling of flight. However, be sure to keep your neck long and steady.

However, if the darts move suits you, you can switch to swimming Pilates to challenge yourself. Swimming in Pilates is also a mat back extension exercise that helps strengthen and protect upper and lower back muscles.

beginner’s tip

When performing a dart in Pilates, be sure to:

  • Keep your abdominal muscles hollow.
  • Keep your neck soft and long throughout the exercise.


The dart in Pilates is a great exercise that can help maintain your posture and is also recommended for preventing certain types of back and hip pain.

The trapezius and latissimus dorsi extensor muscles in your back are primarily used during this Pilates exercise.

The stretching motion helps open up the front part of your rib cage. Additionally, the gluteus maximus of the hip muscles are also involved when performing this movement. All of these muscles help lengthen your spine and also help stabilize your torso.

Common mistakes to avoid

When performing a dart in Pilates, be sure to avoid these mistakes to get the most out of this effective Pilates movement:

Lower back bend

Do not bend your lower back. Always remember to keep your spine long and not hyperextended. Keep your tailbone toward the mat to keep your lower spine stable and long.

Unstable neck

When you do the dart, don’t move your neck. Always keep your gaze down and your neck long and steady, directly in line with your spine. Don’t overstretch your neck muscles.


Although darting in Pilates is a safe exercise, do not attempt it if you are pregnant or have any medical conditions.

If you’ve had a neck or back injury or surgery, it’s best to talk to your doctor or physical therapist first to see if exercising is safe for you. Stop doing this exercise if you feel any discomfort or pain.

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