Pilates is one of the rare exercise types which can be done by using many various props.
One of the basic, and most popular props for it are Pilates rings.
The best thing about them is that even complete beginners may use them, they are affordable and great for both home and studio practice.
Pilates rings can be used to isolate and strengthen various muscle groups on our bodies. You can use it for just a certain area, like arms, legs, core, or even a full body workout. You can use the ring in two ways; to create resistance and activate your muscles, and to use it as a balance or stretching prop.
To know more about how to use a Pilates ring, what is it exactly, and what to do with it, read the following chapters:
What is a Pilates Ring?
So, what is a Pilates ring?
By definition, Pilates ring is a resistance ring that is used to perform various exercises.
Spring-like resistance is used to create a pressure when pressed and that enables muscle activation.
This ring is available in different types and the resistance it creates can be lighter or stronger.
You should choose it in accordance with your fitness level.
It has 2 handles, covered with a soft and comfortable material, so that you can place it in between your hands and hold it, or to be placed between your legs.
There are dozens of different exercises that can be done with it. It is considered to be a secondary prop and it is used while you are practicing on your Pilates mat.
Pilates rings, also known as magic rings or fitness rings, are made from flexible metal or rubber core, and coated with rubber to be comfortable. As already mentioned, the handles are padded for the same reason.
Rubber ones are actually rare, and they do not create a lot of resistance, so that is the reason that stronger people and advance users avoid them.
Metal options are more durable, and rings found in studios are almost always made of metal.
The diameter is usually around 33 centimeters (13 inches), but you can also find smaller or larger models.
When exercising, the goal is to activate muscles in a controlled motion by pressing it until you feel enough resistance.
Many beginners make a mistake and try to squeeze the ring completely. But those shorter and controlled moves are more than enough.
What are Pilates Ring or. Magic Ring Benefits?
Pilates ring benefits are various and all equally important.
Here I am going to mention some of those. As an individual, you may notice a few more advantages the ring has for your practice.
Muscle strengthening and toning
When you do series of repetitive movements, your muscles are going to get stronger. Pilates ring will ensure enough pressure for proper muscle activation and development.
In addition, Pilates ring can enable you to activate even the smallest and deepest muscle groups, which can’t be specifically isolated and activated by other exercises or props.
Besides, nice and toned muscles will make you look healthier and nicer!
Pilates rings are small, light and relatively cheap.
You can use them at home, take them along when traveling, and because they can be used in numerous different exercises, these rings are suitable even for those with no previous experience.
Low injury risk
Pilates is known as a low impact type of workout, that is gentle to your joints.
Pilates ring is one of the props that is safe to be used even by sensitive people and the risk of injuries is minimal.
Balance and flexibility improvement
Pilates ring can be used as a balance prop in certain exercises, or even during stretching.
When used as a balance prop, it will help you maintain certain postures, otherwise hard to do.
When stretching, you can use it to help you get a bit deeper into it and to eventually increase your flexibility.
So, How to Use a Pilates Ring?
Beginners often look at it and wonder how to use a Pilates ring.
It looks simple, but for the first few times it can be a bit challenging until you develop a feeling for it.
In the next chapter, I am going to mention a few exercises that are a great starting point. Here, I am going to mention a few rules applicable to many of those exercises.
Breathing is very important in Pilates, and you should match your breath with your movement.
While your muscles are activated and contracted, you should exhale, and when you release the tension you should inhale. Especially when using props such as Pilates ring.
Taking it slow
Unless a certain exercise requires you to do some pulses (and those are not the best choice for complete beginner), you should control every movement, be aware of your body, feel the muscles you activate, and do everything slowly.
Hurrying will reduce the efficiency of certain exercises an increase the risk of injuries.
Pressing the ring
I already mentioned that beginners tend to squeeze the ring completely, however, that is a mistake.
Squeeze it just a few inches. When squeezed, the ring should be static and stable and not “dance” around. If you can’t control the ring, you probably pressed it too much.
Best Exercises to Do With Pilates Ring (for Arms, Legs, Core, etc.)
There are various exercises to do with Pilates ring, for all experience and fitness levels.
If you are one of the experienced users, this will just be a reminder for you. Beginners should start with these basic exercises to get to know the Pilates ring and get used to it.
Here, I am going to list basic, simple, and easy exercises for arms, legs and core strengthening. In addition, I will mention a few balance exercises and stretches.
Pilates ring Exercises for Arms
You can do this either standing up or sitting down. Hold the Pilates ring in front of your chest, with your arms extended. Press the ring to feel resistance, hold, and release. Repeat about 10 times. Press on an exhale and release on an inhale.
To activate your shoulders a bit, you can do the same, but hold the ring above your head.
Another arm exercise is to sit on the floor, cross-legged, and place the ring diagonally in front of you, at the length of your arm. One ring handle should be on the floor, and the other one should be pressed by your palm. Press it towards the floor until you feel resistance, hold, and release. Repeat 10 times and switch hands.
Pilates ring Exercises for Legs
To activate your inner thighs, lay on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet on the ground. Place the ring just above your knees, between the legs. Press it, hold, and release. Repeat about 10 times.
To make it more challenging, you can lift up your hips to activate your glutes, and press the ring at the same time.
Pilates ring Exercises for Core
By holding and pressing the ring with your hands or legs while doing a basic sit-up, you are going to activate deeper core muscles. If you are a beginner, lay on your back, hold the ring between your extended arms and lift your head, shoulders and chest up. As you lift, press the ring.
Another possibility is to place in between your knees while in the same position, and while holding your arms behind your head, lift your head, shoulders, and chest while simultaneously pressing the ring.
Exhale on the way up. Repeat about 10 times each.
Pilates ring Exercises for Stretching
To stretch your hamstrings and back side of your legs in general, lay on your back and pull your legs up, to be straight. Your torso should make a 90° angle with your legs. Attach a ring to your feet, hold the other part in your hands and gently pull down towards yourself to stretch your legs.
You can also do one leg at a time.
Pilates ring Exercises for Balance
Many exercises with a Pilates ring are done on the floor. However, if you use a ring in exercises where you stand up, it can improve your balance.
Basic exercise to try is to perform a lunge with a rotation. Hold the ring in front of your chest, with your elbows bent. Do not press the ring hard, just lightly to feel it but not to activate too much. This will make your body centered and engage all of the muscles.
Step forward with your right leg and do a lunge. Turn your upper body together with a ring to a right side, while your legs are static. The ring is there to help you maintain balance. Turn back forward and step back from a lunge into a standing position. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Which Pilates Ring is Best (for Beginners)?
Pilates rings are made by numerous manufacturers, from cheap to more expensive ones.
Some are more durable than others, and their resistance also varies.
As a beginner, the best thing would be that you try out some of those, and decide which one feels the best when you hold it.
Avoid choosing those with very high resistance. Choose the ones which are a bit easier to bend.
I can’t tell you which make and model to take, because it is up to you. If you have a chance to try them, make sure that the handles lay comfortably in your hands, and that it feels OK when you place the ring between your legs.
If you practice in a studio, and want one for home, ask your instructor for recommendations.
The best Pilates ring for beginners is the one you are going to use regularly.
It is quite easy to learn how to use a Pilates ring, and anyone can benefit from it. These Pilates props are great for activating muscles in an entire body, and can be used for a full-body workout.
Low impact makes them safe for users with sensitive joints too.
One of the best things about Pilates rings is that they are small and affordable, so you can easily get one to work out at home.
Learn how to properly perform certain exercises and enjoy the long-term results.