The Solstice is still a couple of weeks away, but it’s common understanding that when the pool is open – usually Memorial Day weekend – we are in Summer -mode.  For Sleek arms and beautiful shoulder tone check out this sampling from The Standing Arm Series.  You work with lighter weights: 1- 2lbs + mindful and purposeful activation against gravity.

It’s important to create a whole body intention with these moves.  Your alignment from head to toe, activation in the core and legs is integral.  Breathe fully on your inhales and exhales.  Get a  controlled sense of the folding and unfolding of your joints.  Below, see a quick reference on Pilates stance and releve (a term referring to raising the heel and placing weight into the ball of the foot).

Standing Arm Series Sampler

For each exercise, stand in Pilates Stance, drawing your heels together through the upper thigh and into the seat.  Contract your abs to lengthen the spine, tail to floor and crown to sky.  Keep chest wide.  Be attentive that the shoulders are not rising up the neck – this usually happens to compensate for not properly activating the core!

Bicep Curl Side (5-10 reps)

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Don’t let your arms drop below shoulder height!

Raise the arms level with the shoulder, bending elbows 90 degrees.  Open elbows out to the side.  Avoid pulling the arms back too far.  Place them slightly in front of the shoulder, so that your arm moves in the periphery of your vision.

Press the arms open and level, keeping the wrists long and contracting the triceps. Imagine reaching the arms to the walls of the room.  Contract your abs as you bend the elbows.

Avoid hyperextending the elbow when extending the arms.

The Bug (5-10 reps)

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Form your arms like “Hugging a Tree,” elbows directly out to the side.  Rock your feet from Pilates Stance and into a parallel stance.  Bend the knees like a mini-squat and then flex forward at the hips to make your back flat and straight like a table.  Maintain the arm position, wide shoulders and chest open.

Really work the core to feel lengthened through the spine.  Imagine balancing cups of tea on your back to keep your “table” shape.

“Pinch a grape” – Squeeze the shoulder blades together to initiate moving the arms away from each other.  Careful not to round the back or shoulders.

At the end, do round forward with arms hanging loosely, rock feet back into Pilates stance and roll up to standing.  Then you’re ready for…

Side to Side (2-4 times each side)

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Extend your right arm up overhead straight without elevating your shoulder.

Side bend by sliding your back against an imaginary wall behind you. Then flex the elbow as if to wrap your arm around your head: “hug your head.”

Activate your triceps to extend the arm and it will deepen the stretch as you reach.  Return fully upright to lengthen tall.

Lower your arm and repeat on the left.

Shaving (5-10 reps)

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Standing in Pilates stance, lean slightly forward “into the wind.”

Lift the arms in front and bend the elbows wide to the sides, placing your hands/weights together behind your head.  Form your hands so that the index fingers and thumb meet while holding the dumbbells, like a triangle.

The dumbbells ‘stick’ together as you straighten the arms up to reach at a diagonal.  Think about projecting from the core.  Then with control return the arms to the start.

Watch out for shoulders getting up in the neck!

Do 5 reps with the feet still, then 5 reps rising into releve as your arms go up.  Lower your heels with control as you bend your elbows back to the start position.  When rising into releve, keep the heels connected through the thighs.

Pilates Stance

Connect the heels and have a slight turnout of each foot

Connect the heels and have a slight turnout of each foot

Releve: as you rise up onto the ball of your foot, do not lose connection of the heels.

Releve: as you rise up onto the ball of your foot, do not lose connection of the heels.

Move as tho the heels slide up the imaginary center line – your reference point for alignment

Move as tho the heels slide up the imaginary center line – your reference point for alignment

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