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How To Do Magic Circle Exercise - Arms Back


Updated June 18, 2014

Instructor and client working in a gym on equipment designed for pilates exercise routines.
Seth Joel/The Image Bank/Getty Images
This standing Pilates magic circle exercise opens the chest and shoulders as it tones and strengthens the arms and upper back. It is especially good for the back of the arms, the triceps.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 5 min.

Here's How:

  1. Take Your Stance
    check points:
    • Stand with feet shoulder distance apart. Knees can be slightly bent, or straight, but not locked.

    • Activate the abdominals by pulling them in and up.

    • Shoulders are dropped away from the ears.

    • Head reaches for the sky.

  2. Position the Circle
    check points:
    • Grasp the magic circle behind your back.

    • Elbows are bent, arms are parallel.

    • The chest opens but the ribcage does not pop forward.

    • Keep the circle low at first. Only go as high as you can keep the arms parallel and the ribs dropped.

  3. Pulse
    Use a pulsing motion to push the circle in and release it. Control both the inward push and the release. Try to keep the arms parallel and the shoulders dropped. Feel the action in the upper back and triceps.

  4. Repetitions
    Start out with 5 pulses in 5 sets. Gradually work your way up to 10 pulses in 8 sets.


  1. Remember to breathe!

  2. If you have shoulder problems, or a very tight chest, you may want to start with an imaginary circle - just to get the feel of opening the chest and shoulders while keeping good posture.

  3. Add Challenge by raising the circle further up the back. Do this only if you can continue to meet all the posture check points.

  4. Straight Arms Press, with the arms held in front is a good counter balance for this exercise.

  5. Before you purchase a Magic Circle, also known as a fitness circle, workout ring, exercise circle, you may want to read: Before You Buy a Magic Circle
    Compare Magic Circle Prices:

    Compare Prices

What You Need

  • A Magic Circle
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