These 5 Pilates Dumbbell Exercises for Shoulders Give You A Sculpted, Elegant Upper Bod

April 8, 2019

It’s never too early to start sculpting your shoulders for tank top weather! The deltoids are a small muscle group that make a big difference in the shape of the upper body when sculpted. All you need are a set of light dumbbells and a couple minutes to do this Pilates arm workout that will give you strong and defined shoulders. Pilates arm exercises use lighter weights with higher reps so grab 2 or 3 lb dumbbells for this workout. Rather than burn out quickly, you will execute the exercises in a slow and controlled manner that increases your muscle endurance, flexibility and strength. Attention should always be placed on your core and spinal alignment for good posture when doing each exercise. Stand with your feet hip distance apart and your knees slightly bent. Keep your core engaged by pulling your navel into your spine. Do 20 reps of each exercise.

Zip Up- This move is the same as an upright row. Start holding the dumbbells with your arms down and palms facing towards your body. Bring the dumbbells together at the center line of your body. Imagine you are zipping up a sweatshirt as you lift your elbows up to bring the dumbbells to chest level. Do not lift your shoulders as your elbows come up. Slowly lower your hands back down without separating the dumbbells and repeat.

Hug A Tree– Open your arms out wide with your elbows slightly bent like you are about to hug a big tree trunk. Make sure to pull your shoulder blades down and keep your elbows lower than your shoulders and your wrists slightly lower than your elbows. Without changing the shape of your arms, bring them in to hug a tree. When your knuckles touch, bring the arms back out wide and repeat.

Arm Circles– Hold your arms out to the sides at shoulder height with your palms down. Keep your arms straight without hyperextending your elbows. Do 20 little circles about the size of a grapefruit in each direction .

Hug The Moon– Hold your arms out to your sides with your elbows slightly bent and palms facing up. Without changing the shape of your arms, raise them up over your head like you are hugging a big full moon. Do not let your arms fall behind you. You should be able to see your arms over your head in your peripheral vision. When your hands touch, slowly lower back down to your start position and repeat.

Shaving– Hold your weights together behind the back of your head with your elbows bent and pointing upwards. Start at the base of your neck and straighten your arms up as if you are shaving the back of your head. Keep your neck straight and gaze forward.

Do this workout at least 3 times a week for shapely, defined shoulders!

Also by Crystal: Spend Just 8 Minutes Doing This Cardio Workout & Burn Fat For 24 Hours

Shape An Ethereal Physique With Kate Mara’s Ballet Body Workout

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Video: Crystal Chin

Crystal Chin
Crystal is a professional dancer, writer and certified Pilates instructor based in Los Angeles. She inspires people to dance their true colors in life, never compromising their own self worth for any person, job or societal standard. She teaches her students about mindful movement and healthy living. When not writing, teaching, or dancing, she is learning all the beautiful life lessons her two dogs teach her just by their existence--forgiveness, being present and how to be unapologetically herself. Check out Crystal's blog at and follow her on Instagram crystalannchin, Twitter @CrystalAnnChin and Facebook.


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