Unlike weights, a Pilates ring doesn't look very intimidating. It's hollow and weighs hardly anything at all, and it comes complete with a soft foam handle on each side. But don't be fooled. It can leave you just as sore as a pair of heavy dumbbells when you use it right. "It's one of our most loved and hated props because it's so intense. But it's super effective," said Kimmy Kellum from East River Pilates, in a video.
There are also a lot of different ways you can use a Pilates ring. It targets tiny muscles that don't normally get attention, gives you resistance (minus the band!), and even helps you improve your balance—not to mention sculpts and tones from head to toe. After even doing a quickie Pilates ring workout, you'll feel it in your core, your arms, your booty... pretty much all over. Here's how to use a Pilates ring to get a full-body workout.
How to use a Pilates ring for a full-body workout
1. Use it to work your arms
You're not just holding a Pilates ring and using it as a prop. You're putting pressure on each side, squeezing it together to strengthen your muscles.
2. Use it as resistance
Bands aren't the only tool that challenges your body with a little resistance. The Pilates ring can do it, too. When you're doing arm presses like in the video below, for instance, you're slowly pressing into the ring with your hands. While it's a small exercise, it provides a big burn.
3. Use it to target your core
By adding a Pilates ring to your everyday exercises, you can work your muscles even harder. In criss-cross single leg extensions, for instance, simply holding the ring between your knee and forearm engages your muscles in a whole new way.
4. Use it to tone your legs
By using the Pilates ring during bridges, it immediately activates your muscles, allowing you to better target your inner thighs and glutes. You can also thread legs through the ring, allowing you to target your outer thighs during bridges as you press outward. And when you add tiny pulses to the mix with some thigh squeezes, you'll really feel the effects.
5. Use it to improve your balance
While many Pilates ring exercises are done lying down, trainer Rahel Ghebremichael loves using it during standing workouts. By incorporating it during lunges, wood chops, and other exercises, you're working on your balance at the same time you're toning your body, like in the video below.
If you're feeling tight, this Pilates stretching workout is the next best thing to a massage. Then try the resistance band Pilates series that works your back and core like none other.
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