Joseph Pilates develoed a great workout for toning the entire body. Some of his Pilates arm exercises; work all angles of the arms, and can provide benefits with or without using weights (if you use weights, opt for light ones — 3 pounds).
This Pilates-inspired arm workout can be done in your home, at your office or in your hotel room. You can also add this to the end of your Pilates mat workout, cardio workout or gym routine. Remind yourself of the Pilates principles when performing each move: use control, concentrate on every movement, initiate from your center, be fluid in your movements, use your breath and be precise.
According to the American Council on Exercise, triangle pushups are the most effective type of pushup to tone your triceps muscles. The triangle pushup is performed like a standard pushup, but you put your hands together under your chest with your pointer fingers and thumbs touching.
- Serving Tray
Tones triceps, shoulders, back and abs.
Stand tall with heels together, toes slightly turned out in a Pilates V stance position. With your upper arms by your sides, bend your elbows to 90 degrees, bringing hands forward with palms turned up. Engage your core, drawing your shoulders down and back. Inhale, extend your arms straight out in front of you, as if offering a serving tray to someone. Draw your ribs back as you feel energy extend through your reaching arms. Exhale, use your back and the backs of your shoulders to draw your elbows back in to your waist. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
- Shaving the Head
Stand with your legs firmly pressed together and your toes turned out. Place your hands — with or without weights — behind your head, forming a triangle with your elbows. Retract your shoulders towards the floor as you inhale and press your hands upward, extending your elbows and pressing up and away from your body. Exhale and return your hands back behind your head. Repeat the exercise five to eight times.
- The Swan
Shoulder, triceps, upper back
Begin face down in one long line from head to feet. Place your arms under your shoulders for a moment to press down into the mat and activate your abdominals. Draw the legs together strongly, inhale and prepare to hold your body strong. In one smooth movement exhale, extend both arms side to side and lift the chest and legs so you are suspended off the floor. Think of getting longer and longer rather than higher. Face your palms forward to open the chest and keep working your core pulling the abs inward and upward. Lower everything back to the mat, and repeat twice more getting longer and higher with each repetition.
- The Swan Seesaw
Shoulder, triceps, upper back, abs
Without any jerking or sudden movements begin a small seesaw motion, deliberately swinging slightly forward and then backward in a Swan like movement. Continue rocking gradually gaining momentum to lift a bit higher with each repetition. Focus on lifting the legs up high behind you as you rock forward and lifting the torso up high in front of you as you rock backward. With each rock forward inhale.
- Bicep Squeeze
Stand in Pilates V stance with your arms out in front of you and your palms turned up. Keep your shoulders down away from your ears and draw your shoulder blades together. Make loose fists with your hands (or hold light hand weights or mini weight balls) and curl your fists up and in, so your fingertips touch your shoulders on an exhalation. Squeeze your biceps muscles and hold for a moment, concentrating on creating resistance as you curl, before extending your arms forward. Repeat 15 to 20 reps.
- The Bug
Tones triceps, shoulders, back, butt, thighs and abs.
Stand with feet hip width apart and parallel to each other, arms by your sides, hands in loose fists with palms facing back. Bend your knees and hinge forward at the waist, arms long, hanging toward the floor. Keep your shoulders down and your core engaged, squeeze the back of the shoulders to pull your elbows up and engage your triceps at the top of the movement. Release your arms back down to the floor. Perform 15 to 20 reps.
- Pilates Push Up
Tones entire upper body, especially triceps, shoulders and chest.
Come into a Pilates plank with your hands under your shoulders and your legs together with feet in Pilates V stance. Make sure your body forms a straight line from head to heels. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down away from your ears. Lower down into a narrow arm push-up position on an inhale. Make sure to bring your elbows toward your waist and engage your triceps. Exhale, pull your belly to your spine and straighten your arms to push yourself back up to plank. Try eight to 10 push-ups. You can always drop your knees to the floor if you need to. Don’t sacrifice good form!
Poor posture goes hand-in-hand with poor health. By having awareness of breath and of alignment of the spine, one can strengthen the shoulder, deep torso and abdominal muscles, and reduce stress.