8 Minute Pilates Arm Workout for Sculpting and Strengthening

It’s arm day, but your schedule is full of things to do, and you’re wondering how you can squeeze exercise into an already full schedule. Solution? Pilates arm workout 8 minutes.

Below, Laura Wilson, founder of the Pilates gym chain Natural Pilates, outlines a quick upper body workout consisting of eight moves done for one minute each, without weights. But don’t be fooled: Just because it’s short doesn’t mean it’s easy. This 8-minute Pilates biceps workout will help get your shoulders and arms a good burn, and Wilson adds that it also gets your spine moving and works both your lower body and abs.

In other words, you get a lot of bangs in those few minutes. The key to maximizing your results? Aim for quality, not quantity. “Focus on your form versus how many reps you can do it,” says Wilson.

Continue to roll for the 8 minute Pilates biceps workout

Squat with raised arms

Wilson says: Pilates is all about multitasking by working different muscles simultaneously. So this combo is just the thing to warm up your body.

Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and your hands hip-width apart. Inhale, then sit your butt back and bend your knees like you’re lowering into a chair as you exhale, reaching your arms straight ahead at shoulder height. Return to a standing position and lower your arms to your side as you inhale. “When squatting, make sure to keep your spine neutral, not round or arched, [and] Bring your hips back,” says Wilson. Your knees should be behind your toes. Repeat for one minute.

Sumo squats with biceps curls

Here’s another multitasking move that works both legs and arms simultaneously. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed out and arms outstretched to the sides, slightly below shoulder height, palms facing up. Inhale and then exhale as you squat and bend your elbows into a 90-degree angle. Inhale as you return to the starting position. “Maintaining your elbow lift will strengthen your shoulders and triceps,” says Wilson. Repeat for one minute.

The seat of tricep dips

You will need a sturdy chair for this move. Make sure it’s wide enough for your hands to fit comfortably around your hips as you perform the three-finger drop. Once your hands are in position, “slide your hips forward off the chair and start doing a triceps dip, inhaling as you bend your elbows and exhaling as you press up,” says Wilson. speak. “The challenge here is to stay in good shape. Try to keep your neck long and shoulders down by focusing on pressing on your hands as you straighten your arms.” Repeat for one minute and take a quick break if needed throughout.

Knees (or support boards)

Your arms and quads will get some love with this move. Lie down on all fours, keeping shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Curl your toes under. Inhale and exhale as you press into your hands and toes, and lift your knees an inch off the floor. Hold the pose for 5 to 20 seconds, then lower your knees to the ground. “The longer you hold the position, the less rep you get a minute, but less is definitely more here,” says Wilson.

Stretch your legs

This classic Pilates move strengthens the abs and supports the range of motion of the shoulder joints. Here’s how: “Start lying on your back. Keep your spine flat and bring both feet to a table-top position — a 90-degree bend at your hips and knees,” says Wilson. “Now arch your head and shoulders off the mat and reach toward your toes.” As you inhale, reach your legs out and your arms overhead. Then, as you exhale, wrap your arms out to your sides and toward your feet as you bring your feet back to the tabletop position.

“It is very important to keep your spine flat for this exercise,” notes Wilson. “If you feel like your lower back is arching off the mat, reach for your legs higher. The lower your legs are, the more weight they can pull up the spine.”


You’ll feel this move work the entire back of your body, including your back, shoulders, arms, glutes, and hamstrings. Lie down. Reach your arms forward, keeping your arms and legs about shoulder-width apart. Inhale, then exhale as you bring your arms, chest, and legs off the ground. “Continue to inhale and exhale as you raise one opposite arm and leg an inch, then switch,” says Wilson. “After one minute is up, lower your body to the mat, then press back into child’s pose to lengthen your spine.”

Wilson adds that you can start doing this move slowly and then increase the speed as you move. Regardless of speed, she emphasizes the importance of working your abs (this helps protect your back) and keeping your arms and legs straight, so you feel the burn.

Side planks and twists

Start in a side plank position with your legs staggered. “The supporting arm should be just below the shoulder when the other arm is facing the ceiling,” says Wilson. Inhale, then exhale as you “rotate your torso toward the floor and reach your upper arms below your waist – think ‘needle threading'”. Next, inhale as you rotate back to the starting position with your arms reaching toward the ceiling. Repeat for 30 seconds then switch sides.

Push up

The 8-minute Pilates biceps workout ends with an OG push-up but with a Pilates twist that focuses on form and breath. Lie down on all fours. Both arms should be shoulder width apart. Squeeze your body as you step back into the push-up position. Wilson notes that you can keep your feet close together if you want to make things more difficult or keep them separate for more stability.

Before you start push-ups, Wilson recommends making sure your body is in a long line, your abs and glutes are worked out. “Abs and glutes are what stabilize the body during movement,” she says. “If we lose those connections, the exercise loses its integrity and becomes less beneficial and possibly damaging.”

Then inhale as you bend your elbows and press up as you exhale. According to Wilson, the key to a great push-up is to lower your chest as far as you can without sacrificing spinal posture, more than you can do in one minute. Once the timer is up, push back into the child’s pose for a well-deserved rest and take a few deep breaths.

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