Many of us think of Pilates as primarily an ab sculpting core workout, but Pilates is great for toning the entire body. I personally love some of Joseph Pilates' arm exercises; they're easy to remember (fun names), they work all angles of the arms, you can get benefits with or without using weights (if you use weights, opt for light ones -- 3 pounds), and they strengthen our core, lower back, legs and posture at the same time.
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.
Go through this 10-minute routine one to three times and try to add it to your workout a few days a week. You'll be on your way to some sexy, sleek, sculpted arms by spring time!
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.
Works the biceps, shoulders, back and abs. 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.
Works triceps, rear deltoids, lat muscles, waist and abs. Stand in Pilates V stance and hinge slightly forward from the waist at a 45-degree angle. Take your hands behind your head, palms facing forward, and join your thumb and pointer finger in a diamond-like shape. Inhale, extend your arms long at the same angle of your torso, exhale, pull your elbows back out to the sides and bring your palms back behind your head. It's as if you're shaving off the back of your skull. Make sure to pull your shoulders down away from your ears as you extend your arms long and contract your triceps firmly. Repeat 12-15 times.
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.
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!
Tones triceps, biceps, shoulders, chest and back. Sit on the floor with your legs together, extended straight out in front of you. Place your hands about 10-12 inches behind you on the floor with your fingers pointing forward. Engage your hamstrings and core as you press firmly into your feet and lift yourself up into an incline plank position. Inhale, bend your elbows to lower down toward the floor while keeping your body as straight as you can, then exhale back up. Perform 10 to 12 reps. You can always place your feet in tabletop position hip width apart and keep your knees bent, if you find it too challenging in the incline plank.
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