Is the Pilates ring any good?


While Pilates can be performed without any equipment, just making us of your own body weight, there is something to be said for adding additional challenge via equipment such as a Pilates ring. What is a Pilates ring? Is the Pilates ring any good?

A Pilates ring is good for light resistance training. It allows you to build strength without grappling with excess weights that may cause injury. As a result, they are popular with people requiring physical therapy, such as injured athletes and seniors. It is also popular with those seeking to tone rather than bulk their muscles. 

I love the Pilates ring!  It’s one of the best pieces of equipment you can buy for a home workout thanks to the low cost. 

Let’s take a look what a Pilates ring is and what exercise you can do with it. 

What Is A Pilates Ring?

A Pilates ring is a lightweight and flexible band in the shape of a circle or ring. The primary function of a Pilates ring is to provide resistance for your muscle movement. It also has padded handles to allow you to grip, push or squeeze as you execute the exercise. 

They’re also known as a ‘fitness circle’, ‘Windsor ring’ or ‘magic circle’, and the primary purpose is to help you add resistance into your workout. 

It is often made of flexible metal or rubber, with a diameter of about 12-15 inches. It also has small pads on each side to protect your hands, thighs, and ankles.  The pads are present to help you grip while you execute the workout. 

I don’t have a specific recommendation, there are lots of great options at a very reasonable price available from Amazon, click for detailsOpens in a new tab.

Pilates works on the principle of isometrics, where the body acts against itself or against a surface. This might be enough for some people, but a Pilates ring can help to enhance the workout challenge. It does so by making the muscles work harder and improving strength and flexibility. 

You can target your upper and lower body and core muscles with the Pilates ring, providing more strenuous exercises than you would be able to do with traditional equipment free Pilates.  It is intended as the ‘secondary prop’ to complement your workout.

What Is The Benefit Of A Pilates Ring?

Pilates rings are beneficial for people performing light resistance training. A Pilates ring allows weight training without grappling with weights, reducing the chances of injury. The additional resistance also helps those with weaker muscles, such as seniors or people recovering from injuries. 

The Pilates ring’s most significant benefit is that it allows you to perform resistance training without having to grapple with heavyweights such as dumbbells or bars. 

This reduces the likelihood of injury, as you only work with your body weight, plus the resistance from the Pilates ring. You are very unlikely to get injured from trying to lift too much weight too soon, something common with those doing weight training. 

Pilates rings are very popular among those doing Pilates, but can be especially helpful for several specific situations.

First is when you’re looking to develop flexibility and pliability instead of pure strength. People like this are often not looking to bulk up with muscles but tone their bodies for a better physique. Using a Pilates ring avoids excessive weight, which may cause the body to develop large muscles, but focus on toning and improving flexibility. 

Second are those with diminished capacity to respond to resistance, for example, seniors. Seniors can be facing multiple musculoskeletal issues; for example, their muscles may have deteriorated or lost their strength. A Pilates ring can help them work on these muscles and slowly build back strength without overloading and causing injury. 

Finally, people requiring physical therapy to regain functional use of muscles may also find a Pilates ring helpful. People recovering from surgery or injuries may find a Pilates ring helpful, for example, a patient or an athlete. The Pilates ring introduces additional resistance to help the muscle regain strength and flexibility with less risk of injury. 

As you can see, it doesn’t matter what your fitness levels are, adding a level of resistance can benefit everyone. Here is a workout I’ve done to help anyone with their spine mobility.

What Exercise Can You Do With A Pilates Ring?

You can perform a range of upper, lower body, or core exercises with a Pilates ring. These exercises are commonly performed with a Pilates ring:

  • Low diagonal ring
  • Middle ring
  • High diagonal ring
  • Halo ring
  • Pilates ring biceps
  • Pilates ringside press

As a start, you can try the following three exercises using your Pilates ring.

Low Diagonal Ring. Begin by sliding your shoulder blades down while holding the Pilates ring at chest height. Your palms should be flat, against the handles and facing each other. Hold your head high while keeping the chin parallel to the floor and gaze out in front of you. 

  • Now lower your arms below shoulder height at a diagonal while keeping your arms straight and unbent. 
  • Keep lowering until the ring touches your thigh. Lift it up again, back to the starting position. 
  • Be sure to breathe normally throughout the process.
  • Repeat 8-10 times per set for 2-3 sets. 

Halo Ring. For the Halo Ring, hold the ring above your head, keeping it flat against the ceiling. Pull in your stomach to engage the core muscles. This is your starting position. 

  • Now bend your elbows out as you lower the ring to your head. 
  • As you perform this motion, you should feel your back and chest expanding, stretching broader and wider. 
  • Stop when the ring is about to touch your head, like a halo.
  • Lift the ring back up, also keeping in mind to engage your chest and back. 
  • Repeat 8-10 reps per set for 2-3 sets. 

Pilates Ring Biceps. Begin by placing the Pilates ring on your shoulder, just next to the joint. Ensure the ring’s center is the same height as your elbow. Place your palm flat on the ring’s top. This is your starting position. 

  • Push into the ring, squeezing it. You should feel resistance on your biceps, as well as your wrist. 
  • Push until the ring is ¾ squeezed, or you can no longer push further. 
  • Release slowly back to starting position. 
  • Be sure to breathe in when squeezing, and breathe out when releasing. 
  • Repeat 8-10 times for 2-3 sets. 


Pilates Ring Full Workout

Once you’ve mastered the basics, try this full workout and see how much harder it is when you have added levels of resistance do deal with.

Final Thoughs

I love adding challenge to my exercise routine and the ring certainly does that!  Like resistance bands, the ring is available in different resistance levels, meaning you can add gentle resistance, moderate resistance, or firm resistance depending on your existing strength.

It’s small enough to easily store away with your mat, or even take on holiday with you.  If you’re looking to increase your muscular strength while doing Pilates exercises I highly recomend adding one to your collection.

Donna Finnie

Donna loves to share her passion for Pilates with others. She is a fully qualified instructor who believes Pilates is for everyone, regardless of age, as it can truly help to increase strength, flexibility mobility and athletic performance.

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