Tone your arms, open your chest and improve your posture with this fab 10 minute Pilates arm & upper body workout…

Ready to say hello to stronger, more toned arms? The following Pilates exercises are perfect for targeting your triceps, biceps and forearms to burn fat and strengthen your muscles…all in 10 minutes!

How to do this 10 minute Pilates arm workout:

Be sure to do a warm up before starting this 10 minute Pilates arm workout. A warm up should last around 10 minutes and consist of a pulse raising exercise along with some dynamic stretches (click here for a full body warm up routine). Then, follow the instructions for each exercise below.

Try to avoid resting in between exercises: move straight on to the next one to keep your body flowing. If you fancy a bit of a longer workout session, simply repeat the circuit after a 1 minute rest.

Once you’ve finished the workout, be sure to do a thorough cool down to prevent muscle soreness the next day. Click here for a full-body stretching routine.

10 minute Pilates arm workout

1. Dumb waiter

8 reps

Benefits: strengthens your shoulder postural muscles and opens your chest.

10 minute Pilates arm workout for women 10 minute Pilates arm workout for women
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, elbows touching your waist and bent to a right angle with your palms facing up.
  • Exhale and gently draw your navel in towards your spine (A).
  • Inhale as you slowly move your hands apart while working the muscles between your shoulder blades. Keep your forearms parallel to the floor throughout (B).
  • Exhale to move your hands back to the start position.
  • Repeat eight times.

Top tips:

  • Keep your spine and pelvis in neutral.
  • Try to keep your shoulders down throughout, with a gentle abdominal engagement.
  • The aim is to locate the muscles around your shoulder blades.
10 minute Pilates arm workout for women 10 minute Pilates arm workout for women

To progress:

  • Hold one end of a flex band in each hand (A) and exhale to gently pull against the band (B). Keep the movement as smooth as possible.

2. Cat twist

5 reps on each side

Benefits: strengthens and mobilises your shoulder girdle and upper back, and counteracts rounded shoulders.

 10 minute pilates arm workout
  • Start on all fours with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders, shoulder blades drawn down your back (A).
  • Bring your right hand out to the side with palm facing down and inhale to reach up, rotating your spine (B).
  • Exhale and engage navel to spine as you thread your right arm under your chest and through the space between your left arm and knee, stretching out across the shoulder blades (C).
  • Repeat five times on each side.

Top tips:

  • Take long, slow breaths to help intensify the moves.
  • Try to maintain a neutral spine.

3. Triceps with band

12 reps on each arm

Benefits: strengthens the back of your upper arms and shoulders.

 10 minute pilates arm workout
  • Kneel up – with a neutral spine – and drop the flex band behind you with your right arm.
  • Take hold of the other end with your left hand, ensuring there’s some tension in the band (A).
  • Keeping your left hand firmly in the small of your back, inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale and straighten your right arm up over your head, pulling on the band (B).
  • Inhale and slowly bend your arm back down.
  • Repeat 12 times on each arm

Top tips:

  • Keep your eye-line straight ahead and your shoulders open.
  • Use slow, controlled movements and shorten the band if the exercise starts to feel easier

4. Arms ab curl

10 reps biceps – 10 reps triceps

Benefits: strengthens the front and back of your arms as well as your abs.

 10 minute pilates arm workout
  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet and knees hip-width apart with a light dumbbell or a bottle of water in each hand (A).
  • Exhale, engage navel to spine and curl your head and shoulders off the mat, lifting your arms off the floor with a slightly bent elbow (B).
  • Keep your head and shoulders up as you exhale to bend your elbows, bringing the weights towards your shoulders (C).
  • Inhale to straighten.
  • Do this 10 times.
  • Bring your head and arms back to the floor and rest for a few breath cycles.
  • Now exhale and lift your head and shoulders again, this time bringing your arms straight up towards the ceiling (D).
  • Keeping your head and shoulders up, bend your elbows, lowering the weights down towards your ears (E).
  • Do this 10 times.
  • Return to the floor and gently roll your head from side to side to relax your neck.

Top tips:

  • Keep your shoulders away from your ears and your shoulder blades drawn down your back.
  • If you feel this is too challenging for your neck, support your head in one hand and work one arm at a time or support your head on a cushion and work both arms.

5. Controlled Push up

8-10, both narrow and wide

Benefits: strengthens and sculpts the muscles of your chest, shoulders and arms.

  • Kneel on all fours with your feet and knees hips-width apart.
  • Extend your left leg out behind you with your foot at hip height (A).
  • Inhale as you slowly lower your chest down between your hands keeping your elbows close by your sides and pointing straight back while your leg raises (B).
  • Exhale, engage navel to spine and press back up.
  • Repeat eight to 10 times then do a second set with your right leg extended.
  • Now take your hands wider apart (C).
  • Extend your left leg and inhale as you lower your chest between your hands bending your elbows out to your sides while your leg raises (D).
  • Exhale, navel to spine to press back up.
  • Repeat eight to 10 times then do a second set with your right leg extended.

Top tips:

  • Think of your body as a see-saw – your foot goes up as your head goes down.
  • Lower your chest and not your face between your hands to ensure your arms are weight-bearing for great results.
  • Keep your abdominals drawn in and your back straight.

6. Half roll back biceps curl

12 reps

Benefits: tones the front of your arms while strengthening your abs.

 10 minute pilates arm workout
  • Sit up with your knees bent and a flex band wrapped around your toes.
  • Hold the flex band in your fists with your thumbs pointing up and the ends of the band passing out through your thumbs (A).
  • Inhale to prepare.
  • Then exhale, engage navel to spine and tuck your tailbone under as you roll half way back (B).
  • Hold this position, keeping your abs firmly in, your shoulders back and down and your lumbar spine in a ‘C’ shape.
  • Now perform 12 biceps curls, exhaling to pull on the band and bringing your thumbs towards your shoulders (C).
  • Finish by sitting up tall with your shoulders back and down.

Top tips:

  • Keep drawing your abs in and think of breathing into the sides of your ribs.
  • As the exercise becomes easier, tighten the band and roll slightly further back
  • Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears.

Related content:

  1. What is Pilates? Benefits and basics for beginners
  2. 10 minute Pilates glute workout to tone your bum
  3. Pilates for posture: 7 posture correction exercises