Much like medicine balls or yoga wheels, Pilates rings tend to fall into the category of workout tools that look pretty innocent. It’s just a hollow, simple ring—how sore can it leave you anyways? Fun fact: Very. In our latest episode of Good Moves, Well+Good’s video series that showcases sweat-packed at-home workouts, trainer Rahel Ghebremichael—a fitness pro who currently teaches at Modelfit—walks us through an abs-burning Pilates ring workout that will leave you seriously sore.
Part strength training, part Pilates, this eight-minute sesh (which you can do from the comfort of your living room, BTW) works your arms, your core, your legs, and your balance. You might even say it’s a well-rounded sweat sesh you can do anytime, anywhere—even without a Pilates ring (Ghebremichael says it’s totally optional). Her advice for getting through the pain? “You can do anything for five reps!”
1. Reverse lunge—left: Take a step back with your left leg, right knee over your right ankle on the same line. As you lunge, you’re going to keep your chest out, stomach in, core engaged. Take a squeeze of the Pilates ring in your hands, then as you extend your arms out, release and toe tap your right foot back as you stand up. Then take another giant step back, arms extending, pause—pull in the ring and squeeze—then release. Keep your shoulders away from your ears.
2. Oblique wood chop in lunge—right: Step back with your left leg, arms extending up to a diagonal on the left. In the stationary lunge, press the ring down and then press up from the right heel. You want your gaze forward, spine straight. Bring your ring to the outer side of the right knee, pause, then lunge back.
3. Single leg deadlift—left: Arms extend out, take a little leap into your right leg, and reach your arms towards the floor as you balance. Think of an internal rotation from the left hip. Pause with your arms down, then come back up and squeeze, recruiting the right hamstring. Keep your core engaged, chest out, and stomach in.
4. Standing shoulder press—left: Arms extend up overhead as you come up and squeeze the ring. Reach your arms up, extended. Take a little sit back with the right hip as your core’s engaged, then breathe as your arms extend up and overhead. Have an internal rotation from your elbows as you reach the ring up, bend the left knee, then arms are going to come to a 90-degree angle. Extend and toe tap, then bring down to your knee as you raise your leg up.
5. Lunging elbow to knee—left: Take your left leg back and transfer the ring to your right hand. Isolate your core and drive your left knee to your left elbow. Pause and contract your abdominal wall. Stick your chest out, stomach in. Breathe, and stick to a pace you’re comfortable with—but you can go faster if you feel balanced.
1. Reverse lunge—right: Before starting on the other side, release everything out of your body. Then send your right leg back, extending your arms out with the ring. Take your time to nail your form. Keep your gaze forward. When you reverse lunge back, squeeze the ring with your hands.
2. Oblique wood chop in lunge—left: Step it back, arms reaching to a diagonal with the ring. As your gaze stays forward, reach the ring outside of the left knee. Press up from the front heel as your arms extend overhead. Breathe.
3. Single leg deadlift—right: Lengthen your back leg long. As you reach your arms forward, think about squaring from the right hip with your leg in the air. Feel an internal rotation as you pause, then come all the way up, tapping your toe and squeezing the ring. Extend your arms as you keep the core engaged. Keep a baby bend in the standing leg—don’t lock it. Take your time as you balance.
4. Standing shoulder press—right: Take your hip and sit it back as you engage your core. Breathe as you extend your arms up. Come to a 90-degree angle, lifting your right leg. Breathe in and out, working your core, shoulders away from your ears. Use an internal rotation of your elbows as you come up.
5. Lunging elbow to knee—right: Transfer your leg back, and with your right arm extended, pull in the ring with your right hand as you pull your elbow to your right knee. Extend and tap, keeping chest out and shoulders away from your ears. Pick up the pace once you nail the form. And you’re done—though Ghebremichael says you can do it two to three more times, if you’re down to feel the burn.
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