Tone Your Arms No Equipment Needed

by Pilates Maven Elaine Hayes
I get asked all the time, “What’s the best way to tone your arms if you have no equipment or props available?” Well, lucky for you, I have a few tricks up my sleeve with these fun, simple, yet super effective MNTSTUDIO signature moves. All you need is yourself – no props, no equipment, no nada!

Ready to get beautiful, toned, strong arms?

Right this way…

Pretzel Pusher

  • Begin in a “pretzel position,” with your right leg forward at 90 degrees, and the left leg back, also at 90 degrees.
  • Wrap your right arm around your waist, and place your left hand on the ground in front of your body.
  • Lift the left leg off the ground, and keep it lifted throughout the exercise. Now, slowly bend your left elbow, lowering your body closer to the ground, while simultaneously lifting your left left higher.
Technique/Form Notes:
  • This move is great because it not only works your arms but also your booty.
  • Keep your core engaged and make sure not to arch your low back.
  • To intensify, add 20 pulses down at the end.
Reps: Repeat 20 times, then repeat on the second side.

Arm Circles

  • Sit in a comfortable seated position with your arms extended to the sides.
  • Circle your arms up, back, and around quickly 100 times. Your circles should be the size of a basketball. Now, repeat on the second side.
Technique/Form Notes
  • Keep your arms super straight and move from the top of the arm bone (not the elbows). Engage all the muscles in your arms, but also your core and your lats.
  • This one feels like nothing at first, but after a few reps you’ll start to feel the burn!
Reps: Repeat 100 times in each direction

Chatturanga Push-Ups

  • Come to all fours on your mat with your hands under your shoulders, and your hips pressed forward so that you are in a kneeling plank-like position. Lift your free off the ground so that your hamstrings are activated and heels squeezing in towards your seat.
  • Inhale to bend your elbows straight back, allowing your body to lower down. Exhale to press back up to straight.
Technique/Form Notes:
  • Slow and controlled is the name of the game here! Make sure your movement lasts an entire long inhale on the way down, and an entire long exhale on the way up.
  • Only go as low as you can maintain a straight back and elbows squeezed in here.
  • This type of push-up (with the elbows squeezing in and pointing back), targets the lats and triceps more, whereas traditional military style push-ups target the pecs.
  • For more intensity, pulse down 20 times at the end.
Reps: 20-30

Airplane Squeezes

  • Lie on your belly with your chest and legs lifted and arms reaching back.
  • Inhale to prepare, exhale to squeeze your arms in towards each other, keeping your palms facing the ground.
Technique/Form Notes:
  • Press your pubic bone into the mat to protect you lower back.
  • Bake sure the back of your neck stays long and crease-free.
  • Imagine shooting laser beams out your fingertips as you squeeze in.
Reps: 30

Flamingo Tricep Dips

  • Come onto all-fours facing up, with your hands under your shoulders and your feet under your knees.
  • Lift your hips off the ground and reach your right leg straight up towards the ceiling.
  • Now, inhale to bend your elbows straight back, and exhale to press back up again. After completing all your reps, repeat on the second side.
Technique/Form Notes:
  • This one is a burner and super effective!
  • Keep your chest lifted and open to protect your shoulders.
  • If this is too intense on one leg, keep both feet down.
  • Reach energy through your lifted leg, especially as you dip down.
  • To intensity, pulse down 10 times at the end.
Reps: 20 on each leg


About Elaine Hayes

Elaine is the Founder & CEO of MNTSTUDIO, the go-to destination for Pilates, barre, and holistic wellness for the Bay Area fitness community. Elaine has personally crafted the MNT Pilates and barre approach to combine classical principles of alignment and precision with more contemporary techniques. As a result, classes are challenging yet accessible for all fitness levels. Through MNT, she strives to empower each and every individual to transform their lives for the better through movement, self-care, and community. Connect with her on Instagram @elainerhayes.