Blog Fitness Pilates How to Use a Pilates Ring To Get The Most Out Of Your Mat Workout

How to Use a Pilates Ring To Get The Most Out Of Your Mat Workout

Contrology (what we call Pilates) is all about control—the artful mastery of body movements. The idea is to integrate the mind with the body, to achieve a harmonious balance and strengthen the core by utilizing precise, flowing motions (1). 

With consistent practice—four times per week as per Joseph Pilates’ recommendation in his foundational texts—profound body awareness and muscular symmetry can be cultivated.

Adding props to your Pilates practice can amplify your routine by challenging your muscles in new, effective ways.

The Pilates ring is one such prop. This circular band can intensify your mat workouts, target often-overlooked muscle groups, and offer tactile feedback to ensure proper form.

Here’s what you need to know to seamlessly integrate the Pilates ring into your mat routine for maximum benefit.

What Is the Point of a Pilates Ring?

The point of the Pilates ring, which is also called the magic circle, is to add challenge and resistance to your Pilates workout. Think of it as a physical cue that helps you tap into your inner strength while also providing feedback on areas of weakness and imbalance.

Some notable Pilates ring benefits include:


Resistance in exercise refers to the force that muscles must overcome in order to achieve a full range of motion in a given movement. Resistance facilitates muscle growth and strength (2). 

The Pilates ring is made from flexible metal or rubber and creates resistance through compression. It offers light to moderate resistance, which can be increased or decreased by squeezing the ring more or less tightly.

Our push-up muscle groups blog explains how you can use your body as resistance to build muscle.


One of the core principles of Pilates is concentration—being fully present with each movement (1). When you’ve mastered your routine, it’s easy to go into autopilot mode.

The Pilates ring requires focused attention to maintain control, tension, and stability. You’re more likely to stay present and engaged in your workout, maximizing its benefits.

Mind-Body Connection

The Pilates ring is an extension of your body. It provides sensory feedback to help you connect with specific muscle groups, enhancing your mind-body connection. For example, when using the ring between your legs for a bridge exercise, you’ll feel it engage the inner thighs.

It also helps you to become aware of any imbalances or weaknesses in your body. By working with the ring, you can strengthen these areas and achieve more balanced muscle development.

Get ready to circle your way to success! BetterMe’s Pilates Essential Kit brings the gym to your living room with a pop of padded perfection. Tone, tighten, and take your workout to the next level — one ring to rule them all!

See also
A Beginner’s Guide to Wall Pilates Double Leg Stretch

Activation of Hard-to-Reach Muscles

The Pilates ring can be used to target and activate muscles that are often overlooked or underutilized in traditional exercises. These include the deep, stabilizing muscles of the core, in addition to smaller muscle groups in the arms, legs, and glutes.

While a mat workout might have you repeating the same movements over and over again, adding the ring may call your attention to muscles that you don’t normally focus on, which results in a more well-rounded and efficient workout.

Variety and Versatility

The Pilates ring adds variety and versatility to your mat routine. It can be used in countless ways to modify or intensify exercises, which makes it a valuable tool for all levels of practitioners.

While performing Pilates ring exercises for beginners, the ring can provide support and stability. More advanced students can use it to add challenge and resistance to their already-established routines.

how to use a pilates ring  

Is the Pilates Ring Effective?

The Pilates ring can be effective when used correctly and consistently as part of a comprehensive Pilates ring workout. As with any other prop, it shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for proper form and technique, but rather as an enhancement to your existing routine.

How Do You Use a Pilates Ring for Beginners?

If you’re new to Pilates or have never used the Pilates ring before, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Familiarize yourself with the ring: Take some time to explore and experiment with the ring before beginning your workout. Get a feel for its size, shape, and resistance level.
  • Use it in basic Pilates ring exercises for beginners: Start with exercises that are familiar to you, such as the hundred or single-leg stretch. Incorporate the ring by placing it between your thighs or arms and squeezing gently.
  • Focus on form: As always, proper form is essential for getting the most out of your Pilates practice. Pay attention to alignment and engage your core muscles throughout each exercise.
  • Don’t overdo it: The Pilates ring may seem deceptively easy, but don’t underestimate its potential to challenge your muscles. Start with light resistance and gradually increase as you become more comfortable.

Be consistent: To see results, it’s important to use the Pilates ring regularly and consistently. You should aim for 2-3 times per week at a minimum.

How to Use a Pilates Ring for Arms

To use a Pilates ring for arms, you can either incorporate the ring into your mat routine or use it in a standalone arm workout.

Here are a few Pilates ring arm exercises to try:

See also
Wall Pilates FAQ: Answers From The Experts

Roll-up exercise with a magic circle


  • Sit on a mat with your legs extended in front of you, feet flexed and hip-width apart.
  • Hold the magic circle in both hands, gripping it firmly with your palms facing each other. Your arms should be extended straight in front of you, parallel to the floor.


  • Inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale as you engage your core and begin to roll down one vertebra at a time, articulating your spine toward the mat.
  • Continue rolling down until your lower back is resting on the mat and your arms are overhead, still holding the magic circle.
  • Inhale to hold the position at the bottom for a moment, maintaining engagement in your core, and pressing the magic circle slightly to create tension.
  • Exhale as you reverse the movement, rolling your spine back up to the seated position, with your arms still extended in front of you and the magic circle held firmly.
  • Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, focusing on controlled and smooth motion while maintaining tension on the magic circle throughout the exercise.


  • Keep your feet firmly planted on the mat throughout the movement to provide stability and support for your lower back.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles throughout the exercise to control the movement and protect your spine.
  • Focus on articulating your spine one vertebra at a time as you roll down and up, aiming for smooth and controlled motion.
  • Use the magic circle to add resistance and deepen the engagement of your arms, shoulders, and core muscles throughout the exercise.

Performing the Roll-Up with the magic circle in your hands adds an extra challenge to the exercise by engaging your upper body muscles while also targeting your core and spine mobility.

Read more: Wall Pilates for Butt: A Quick Guide for Beginners

The Teaser with Pilates Ring

The Teaser is a challenging Pilates exercise that works the core, spinal erectors, and hip flexors, and helps improve balance. When it’s performed with a Pilates ring, it places additional emphasis on the chest and arm muscles, enhancing upper-body engagement and improving strength.

To perform the Teaser with the Pilates ring:

  1. Start by reclining, lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Hold the Pilates ring above your chest with both hands, keeping your arms straight.
  3. As you inhale, prepare by engaging your core muscles.
  4. Exhale, put your legs at a 45-degree angle as you roll your upper body off the floor, bringing the Pilates ring toward your toes and keeping your arms straight.
  5. Balance on your sit bones at the top of the move, forming a ‘V’ shape with your body.
  6. Inhale and hold the position, squeezing the ring slightly to activate your upper body muscles.
  7. Slowly roll to the starting position as you exhale, controlling the movement with your abs.
  8. Repeat for 3-5 reps, maintaining fluidity and control throughout the exercise.
See also
20 Wall Pilates Benefits: You'll Wish You Knew About These Sooner!

Arm Circles with Pilates Ring

Arm circles are a simple yet effective way to work the shoulders, biceps, and triceps. When using a Pilates ring, this exercise becomes more challenging as the resistance from the ring intensifies the muscle engagement.

Our Pull-ups: Muscles Worked blog post details how pull-ups are an effective way to work the arms and upper body too.

To perform Arm Circles with a Pilates Ring:

  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended straight out in front of you, holding the Pilates ring with both hands.
  2. Engage your core and keep your shoulders relaxed as you start to make small circles with your arms, moving the ring in a clockwise direction.
  3. Continue for 30 seconds, then switch directions and repeat for another 30 seconds.

how to use a pilates ring  

How Do You Use a Pilates Ring for Pelvic Floor Exercise?

To use the Pilates ring for pelvic floor exercise, you can hold it in between your thighs for mat work that involves pelvic floor engagement or hold it between your knees to activate the inner thigh muscles.

Here are a few Pilates ring pelvic floor exercises you can try:

Inner Thigh Squeeze

  1. Start lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat, hip-distance apart.
  2. Place the Pilates ring between your knees, squeezing lightly to hold it in place.
  3. Inhale and engage your pelvic floor muscles as you slowly press your knees together, squeezing the ring.
  4. Exhale and release the squeeze, returning to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 10-15 reps, focusing on keeping your core engaged and maintaining a steady pace.

Bridge with Inner Thigh Squeeze

  1. Start lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat, hip-distance apart.
  2. Place the Pilates ring between your inner thighs and squeeze lightly to hold it in place.
  3. Engage your pelvic floor muscles as you lift your hips off the mat on your exhale, creating a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  4. Hold for 10-15 seconds, squeezing the ring slightly with your thighs for added resistance.
  5. Slowly lower back down to the mat as you inhale, releasing the squeeze as you do so.
  6. Repeat for 8-10 reps, focusing on maintaining proper form and engaging your core throughout the movement.
See also
The Art of Standing Pilates Exercises

Plies with Pilates Ring

  1. Start by standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly.
  2. Hold the Pilates ring between your hands at chest level, elbows bent and pressed against your ribcage.
  3. Inhale and sink into a deep plie squat, keeping your knees aligned with your toes.
  4. As you exhale, engage your pelvic floor muscles and push through your heels to stand back up, straightening your legs and squeezing the ring with your hands.
  5. Repeat for 10-12 reps, focusing on keeping your core engaged and maintaining proper alignment throughout the movement.

Posterior Tilt with Pilates Ring

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat, hip-distance apart.
  2. Place the Pilates ring between your thighs, squeezing lightly to hold it in place.
  3. Inhale and engage your pelvic floor muscles as you gently tilt your pubic bone up toward the ceiling, pressing your lower back into the mat.
  4. Exhale and release the tilt, returning to the neutral spine.
  5. Repeat for 10-12 reps, focusing on keeping your core engaged and maintaining a slow and controlled movement.

Who knew a ring could reshape your routine? With BetterMe’s Pilates Essential Kit , resistance meets comfort in every squeeze to snap you into shape. Ideal for any fitness level, this ring’s padded handles ensure your workout is a pleasure, not a chore. Add it to your routine and watch as it circles you closer to your sculpting goals.

How Do You Use Pilates Ring for Legs?

Using a Pilates ring for your legs can be as simple as squeezing it between your legs during leg exercises. Here are a few Pilates ring leg exercises to try:

Single Leg Circle with a magic circle


  • Lie on your back on a mat with your legs extended.
  • Engage your core muscles to stabilize your pelvis and maintain a neutral spine position.


  • Start by lifting one leg toward the ceiling, keeping the other leg extended on the mat.
  • Press the magic circle down with your bottom leg to create resistance.
  • Circle the lifted leg across your body, down toward the opposite side, and then up toward the ceiling.
  • Continue the circular motion in a controlled manner, maintaining tension on the magic circle throughout the movement.
  • Complete the desired number of repetitions in one direction, then reverse the circle and repeat in the opposite direction.
  • After completing the repetitions on one leg, switch to the other leg and repeat the exercise.


  • Focus on maintaining stability in your pelvis and core throughout the exercise to prevent excessive movement.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and your neck long throughout the movement.
  • Control the movement of the leg with the magic circle, ensuring smooth and controlled circles without swinging or jerking.
  • Engage the muscles of the bottom leg to press the magic circle down with control, feeling the resistance in your inner thigh.
  • Breathe deeply and rhythmically throughout the exercise, coordinating your breath with the movement of your leg.
  • Start with smaller circles and gradually increase the size of the circles as you build strength and control.
  • If you feel any discomfort or strain, stop the exercise and reassess your alignment and technique before you continue.
See also
Wall Pilates For Beginners: Your Guide To Get Started

Performing the Single Leg Circle with a magic circle helps strengthen the inner thigh muscles, improve hip mobility, and enhance core stability. Focus on maintaining proper form and control throughout the exercise to maximize its effectiveness and minimize the risk of injury.

Double Leg Stretch with Pilates Ring

Similar to the single-leg stretch, the double-leg stretch targets the abdominals and thighs.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat, hip-distance apart.
  2. Hold the Pilates ring between your ankles,
  3. Inhale and extend both legs straight out at a 45-degree angle, gently squeezing the ring while extending your arms overhead 
  4. As you exhale, bring your legs and arms in toward each other, bending your knees and circling the arms through the sides
  5. Repeat for 8-10 reps, focusing on keeping your core engaged and maintaining a steady pace.

Clamshell with Pilates Ring

The clamshell exercise targets the gluteus medius muscle and helps improve hip stability. Adding a Pilates ring between your thighs adds resistance and further engages the inner thigh muscles.

  1. Start lying on your side with your knees bent and stacked on top of each other.
  2. Place the Pilates ring between your thighs, squeezing lightly to hold it in place.
  3. Engage your core as you exhale and press the circle down, keeping your feet together and maintaining a 90-degree angle at your hips.
  4. Slowly lift your knee up, releasing the circle as you inhale 
  5. Repeat for 10-12 reps on one side before switching to the other side, focusing on keeping your core engaged and maintaining proper form throughout the movement.

Read more: Pilates Full Body Workout for Beginners (No Equipment Needed)

how to use a pilates ring  


  • Is Pilates good for your inner thighs?

Yes, Pilates can be beneficial for strengthening and toning the inner thigh muscles. By incorporating exercises such as the Inner Thigh Squeeze or Plies with Pilates Ring into your routine, you can target this specific area and see results.

  • Do Pilates rings come in different strengths?

Pilates rings come in different strengths and resistance levels, similar to other fitness equipment such as resistance bands. It’s important to choose a ring that is appropriate for your current fitness level and goals.

  • How do you set up a ring workout?

You set up a ring workout by choosing a variety of Pilates ring exercises that target different muscles and body parts. Find a comfortable and open space to work out in, and make sure you have your ring and any other equipment or props you need. Start with a warm-up before moving on to the main exercises. Always listen to your body and modify as needed. 

  • How can a beginner start Pilates at home?

A beginner can start Pilates at home by mastering the fundamental principles of Pilates, such as proper breathing and engaging the core. 

It’s also important to start with beginner-friendly exercises and gradually increase the difficulty as you become more comfortable with the movements. Using online resources or instructional videos can also be helpful for beginners who are starting Pilates at home.

Our Push-Day Workout guide can be a helpful resource for beginners.

The Bottom Line

Using a Pilates ring can add resistance and challenge to your workout, helping you target specific muscles and improve overall strength and stability. It can be useful for arm, core, pelvic floor, and leg exercises. Remember to always engage your core and maintain proper form when using the Pilates ring for maximum effectiveness and safety. 


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Pilates: how does it work and who needs it? (2011,
  2. The role of resistance exercise intensity on muscle fibre adaptations (2004,