Health and Fitness

Six Matwork Exercises for your Arms

Follow this program sequence to get a quick arm workout in before or after work. Try to do at least 3 times a week. Or if you are really keen, slide it in after one of your normal Pilates sessions. The only piece of equipment you will need is a band, which is readily available at your nearest Studio Pilates studio.



Chest expansion

Start off sitting with your legs out in front of you. Keep them straight if you can, otherwise have a small bend in your knees. Fold your band in half, and loop the middle of the band around your legs while you hold onto the ends of the band with your hands. Sit up tall, keep your spine in neutral, and place your hands next to the outsides of your knees, keeping your arms straight and palms facing behind you. Make sure you have your T-zone on.


Breathe in to prepare, then breathe out, draw your shoulder-blades down and back, sweeping the hands just past the hips. Breathe in, and sweep your hands forward back to your starting position. That’s one rep.

Reps – 20



Biceps half rollback

From the same position as chest expansion, raise your arms to shoulder height, with the palms facing the ceiling (still holding onto the band). Your arms should be straight still. Keep your T-zone on, and round your back so that your upper body towards the ground.


Breathe in to prepare, then breathe out, bending from your elbows, bringing your hands towards your face, like a bicep curl. Try to keep your elbow from moving downwards as you bend your arm. Inhale, then straighten your arm back out to starting position. That’s one rep.
Reps – 20



Pilates push ups

The Pilates Push Up compounds the plank by increasing the load (and difficulty!) on the arms. This is great for the triceps and shoulders, along with the abs.


To perform the Pilates Push Up, begin by assuming the plank position. From here, widen the stance of your hands so that they are just wider than shoulder width apart. Now, begin to lower yourself down into the push-up position – the twist here is to stop twice during the lowering phase of the push up so that you are holding your plank in positions where your elbows are heavily bent. This will increase the tension in your arms. Once you have lowered yourself all the way down, press into the floor, straighten your elbows and move yourself back into the starting plank position.


Reps – 20


Tricep circles

From your Pilates push up position, get your hands right underneath your shoulders. From here you will do something similar to the ‘worm’.

First, bend your elbows so your body weight lowers to the ground. Keep your elbows next to your waist. Then move your body-weight forwards till your nose passes your fingers, and from here straighten your arms. Lastly, move backwards with your body so that you are back in your starting position. That’s one rep.

Reps – 20


Triceps with the band

Start off on all fours. Hold onto the ends of your band with each hand. From here, lift one hand off the ground, and bend that same arm so that your elbow is next to your waist. Your upper arm should be parallel to the floor, your forearm vertical. Keep your shoulder-blades down and back, neutral spine and T-zone.

Breathe in the prepare, then with a breath out straighten your elbow, squeezing from the back of your arm. Breathe in, then bend your elbow back to the starting position. That’s one rep.


Reps 20 on each side.




Lying on your stomach with the arms straight and down by your sides and the finger tips reaching towards the feet. Squeeze the shoulders down and back towards each other and hold this position. Now rotate the palms to the floor and the palms to the ceiling keeping the shoulders squeezed back. Breathe in for 5 rotations, breathe out for 5 rotations.

Reps 50 turns with your hands.