How to do arm circles using the Pilates barrel

Pilates Blog

The Pilates barrel is a barrel-shaped workout device. A common addition to many Pilates studios as well as home gyms, the Pilates barrel is offered in three distinct styles and sizes:

  • The biggest style is the Pilates ladder barrel, which sits about 9 meters off the ground.
  • The step barrel is slightly smaller and is also called the spine corrector.
  • The smallest is the Pilates barrel arc, which has a half-moon shape and sits directly on the floor.

Developed by Joseph Pilates, each one plays a unique role and gives people additional ways to exercise using Pilates techniques. The Pilates barrel arc – which is used in this exercise – features a gentle curve which assists with decompressing and lengthening the spine. It can be utilised during mat work to increase the challenge or offer support during exercises. In addition, it’s a great tool to assist rehab clients.

The arm circles barrel exercise is a wonderful choice for opening as well as stretching the front of the chest. It is beneficial for clients with kyphosis or tight upper chest muscles. It also develops shoulder stabilisation.

What is kyphosis?

Kyphosis is an amplified, forward rounding of the back. This disease can happen at every age; however, it is most widespread in older women. Age-related kyphosis is often because of weakness in the spinal bones, which causes them to compress or crack. Other kids of kyphosis can appear in infants or teens owing to malformation of the spine or, alternatively, wedging of the spinal bones over time.

Mild kyphosis causes a few problems. Severe kyphosis can be a cause of pain and be mutilating. Treatment for kyphosis depends upon your age, the cause as well as effects of the curvature.

When a Pilates client presents with hyperkyphosis of the thoracic spine (upper as well as middle back) to an instructor, there is no doubt that Pilates can treat thoracic hyperkyphosis. Furthermore, there are a number of approaches that a Pilates instructor can utilise to assist with improving the client’s condition.

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Starting position

Lie supine with your upper back against the barrel. Extend your legs in front of you. Your knees can be bent if it’s more comfortable for your back. Make sure that your arms are relaxed next to your sides.

Inhale and lift your arms straight up towards the ceiling.

Exhale and reach your arms back with three gentle pulses increasing the stretch as you go back.

Inhale and lift your arms back up to the ceiling.

Exhale and return your arms to the starting position. The next step is instead of reaching up and down. You can extend the movement into small circles. Perform a circle three times in one direction and then reverse.

Perform between three and five reps per set.

Muscles worked

  • Deltoids
  • Pectorals


  • Place a small ball under your head to support the neck.
  • Use the roll-down bar and omit the circles.
  • Use light hand weights.

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