5 Of The Best Pilates Arm Exercises


Oh, how we love a great Pilates arm workout! It’s not just us, our Pilates arm focused classes are some of the most popular amongst our amazing Members. Keep reading because we’ve got a free online Pilates arms class for you to try!

Although Pilates is known for being the best core workout, your arms will certainly feel the burn during a class. A consistent Pilates practice will result in stronger arms, better posture, better range in motion and generally more comfort within the body. With a consistent practice, you will experience the many benefits of pilates.

There are so many amazing Pilates exercises you can try, like tricep extensions, 90 degrees chest fly, weighted arm circles, chest expansions and so many more! 

We can’t go through them all, these are just some of our favourites. Test them out for yourself and let us know what you think! 

5 Best Pilates Arm Exercises

Bicep Curls

There are several variations you can try, but we’ll start with the standard bicep curl (your biceps are the front of your upper arms!). You can see in the image we are not using any weights, trust us, you will feel the burn even with no weights! Let’s just say repetition is your friend. 

  1. Start by either standing, feet hip width apart or kneeling on the ground. Pick up your 1 kg weights or use no weights! Core is strong, shoulder blades drawing back. 
  2. Draw elbows into your waist, keep them tight. Palms facing upwards.
  3. Inhale to prepare, exhale bending your elbows to bring your hands to your shoulders, then lower back down and extend your arms straight
  4. Focus on the squeeze in the bicep muscles. Be sure to keep the elbows locked into your body and guide your arms out in front of your body.
  5. Repeat 20 times, then do 20 small pulses holding the weights at the half way point of the bicep curl. 

As we mentioned there are many variations. You can raise your arms straight out in front at shoulder height and do ‘lifted bicep curls’. 

You can extend the arms wide to either side of your body at shoulder height for ‘wide lifted bicep curls’. We’d recommend you do all of them, 20 of each! Boom!


Tricep Press

Ohhhh get ready for that Pilates tricep burn! We love this move so much. Remember to keep your core engaged even when focusing on the arms. 

  1. Starting position, stand with feet hip width or kneeling. Pick up your 1kg hand weights or use no weights! Keep the weights held together or press palms together if you use no weights. Raise arms straight up towards the ceiling.
  2. Inhale to bend your elbows and draw the weights/hands behind your head and neck. Keep the elbows squeezing toward one another.
  3. Exhale as you extend your arms up towards the ceiling. Repeat 20 times, follow on with 20 low pulses. Try not to let your elbows creep forward.


Tricep Dips

Get ready! This move is guaranteed to build arm strength! You don’t need any equipment, just your amazing body. Don’t be afraid to take options, even as a Pilates Instructor I (Emma that is) often go with the modification in this move.

  1. Sit on the floor with knees bent, feet out in front hip width, heels down, toes up. Place your hands flat behind you, fingertips facing towards your booty.
  2. Lengthen your arms and lift your booty off the ground. 
  3. Inhale to bend your elbows and lower yourself towards the ground (but don’t touch it!). Exhale to extend arms and lift booty upwards.
  4. Keep your heels on the floor and don’t flare your elbows out wide, keep them tight towards your body.
  5. Repeat 10-20 times, then add 20 pulses down low if you’re feeling strong!
  6. The modification for this move is to keep your booty on the ground and simply bend and extend the arms, so you lean backward and forward. Trust us, you will still feel it!

Plank Taps

Oh this move is tough! With a focus on building that upper body strength, but you’ll also need to engage the core and squeeze the booty to create stability. So actually, it’s a total body workout! 

  1. Start in a high plank with your palms flat, wrists under shoulders, light bend in elbows, toes on the ground, heels pressing back, core strong and booty engaged. The perfect modification here is knees on the ground. 
  2. Inhale to prepare, then exhale tap your right hand to your left shoulder, use your core strength to keep your body stable, keep your left arm stable. Try not to let your hips roll around. Place your right hand back on the ground, switch to the left side.
  3. Keep going for 10 taps, alternating sides.

If you need help with your planking techniques watch the below plank tutorial. We include tutorials within our MerryBody App, this ensures you get your form on point and you make your Pilates movements even more effective. 

Push Ups

There are so many Pilates push up positions and variations you can choose from. Our favourite has got to be top half push up pulses. Oh wow, not only great for building strength but also a cardio move to really build that inner fire. 

  1. Set up your high plank position, palms flat, hands shoulder width apart, press the heels back, keep a slight bend in the elbows.
  2. Core engaged with a rib to hip connection. Option, drop the knees to the ground.
  3. Inhale to bend your elbows and lower your chest down towards the floor. Even if you only lower down a tiny bit this is ok. Work your way up to full push ups, slow and steady.
  4. Exhale to push up through the hands to straighten your arms (don’t lock out the elbow joint). 
  5. Repeat 10 times. Have A little break and do 10 more. 


You can experience all of these moves and more inside our MerryBody Online Yoga and Pilates Studio. 

Through the empowering combination of Yoga, Pilates and Meditation, MerryBody will totally change the way you workout – AND how you feel about yourself.

100% online, on-demand, it puts you in complete control, letting you pursue your own personal idea of what it means to feel good, respect and care for yourself.

Right now there are over 400 classes that you can gain instant access to. PLUS, we add a brand new class each and every week.  The best part you can try this arms focused online Pilates class right now! It’s just 10 minutes long!

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla

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