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January 07, 2022 8 min read

The arm circle is a non-weighted exercise that specifically targets your shoulders and upper arms. It is a simple exercise that involves extending your arms to the sides and making small circles in the air with your hands.

It is common in warm-ups for both weight training and general athletics, and it is often performed simply until you feel enough burn, rather than for a number of reps and sets. If you want to think of them in those terms, you can consider ten-second movements to be equal to one set and each circle can be equal to one repetition. 

A Good Way to Warm Up

A proper warm up can last anywhere from five to ten minutes, and it often involves a little bit of cardiovascular exercise or dynamic stretching. The main goal is to do a relaxing, easy activity. This can be accomplished with arm circles, because doing them before actually starting your exercise routine can be very beneficial.Arm circles are dynamic stretches. A common mistake made when warming up for resistance training is static stretching, which means holding your stretch for up to 30 seconds.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) advises doing static stretches after your workout, because it gets your muscles to relax rather than activate. ACE recommends doing dynamic stretches such as arm circles instead, where you move your joints through their full ranges of motion. You can also include other dynamic stretches or joint mobilizers at the same time, such as knee circles, hip circles, or bodyweight lunges with torso rotation. It is quite easy to find a ledge or a tree to use as a place to get in a few very effective stretches while you do an easy walk or run around the block.

Benefits of Arm Circles

Some of the major benefits of doing arm circles on a regular basis are listed below. Firstly, it is an exercise that is perfect for beginners. It requires very little equipment and it can be done almost everywhere. Secondly, it really warms up your elbows and shoulder joints and prepares your arm muscles for heavier weight work. Thirdly, it works the rotator cuffs, which are often neglected and can be the site for frequent injuries especially among athletes who use these areas extensively in their daily lives (such as baseball players). 

If you suffer from pre-existing injuries, start with light weights if you use any weights at all. If you feel any type of discomfort in your shoulder or elbow joints, this might be a sign you are overdoing it. Try to switch your weights for smaller dumbbells that weigh even less. Even with light weights, you’ll enjoy some of the benefits of arm circles.For example, arm circles can burn a significant number of calories. Just five minutes of arm circles, combined with other upper body exercises such as desk push-ups and arm punches, twice a day, can help burn up to 100 extra calories a week.

Try doing each of your exercises for about 60 seconds, resting for 60 seconds, then moving onto the next exercise.

This routine should add up to about five minutes of extra exercise that includes desk push-ups, arm punches and arm circles. Overall, arm circles can be very relaxing and enjoyable upper body exercises if you do them in small doses. Once you start doing arm circles for a long enough period of time and with heavier weights, however, they definitely become a lot more challenging. Read on below and follow the step-by-step instructions to learn how to arm circles. 

How to Do Arm Circles: Step-by-Step Instructions 

 

  1. Stand up and extend your arms straight out by your sides. Your arms should be placed parallel to the floor and perpendicular (at a 90-degree angle) to your torso. You should place your feet shoulder-width apart. This will be your starting position. 
  2. Slowly start to make small circles of about a foot in diameter with each of your outstretched arms at about shoulder height. With your arms forwards, breathe normally as you perform the range of motion. 
  3. Continue to do the circular motion that you have started with your outstretched arms for about ten seconds.
  4. Finally, reverse the movement as you continue to do the full exercise in the opposite direction. 

While you are doing your arm circles, always keep your back and your arms straight and maintain a deep and smooth breathing pattern.

Keep your head raised up and your body in a T formation at hip-width during the entire exercise. As you get stronger, you can use some slightly heavier weights to start making the exercise a little harder. Most importantly, be sure to engage your core muscles throughout this exercise.

transversus abdominis muscle 3d medical vector illustration

Engaging Your Core Muscles 

Because arm circles require balance and stability, engaging your core is an extremely important part of this full-body exercise. The core consists of all of the muscles that surround your trunk, like your diaphragm, abdominals, obliques, pelvic floor, trunk extensors, and hip flexors. Your core provides the mobility to allow your torso to move in a flexible range of directions. It also provides stability to your trunk for improved balance, and it allows you to perform routine movements such as lifting weights and standing up from chairs.

Abdominal exercises can be very useful ways to train the strength and stability of your core and improve your overall ability to do arm circles and to improve your overall accessibility.

As explained earlier, your core is a large area in the middle of your body.Your core muscles play a major role in many of your normal daily activities such as breathing, posture control, urination, and defecation. Every time you exhale or inhale, your diaphragm helps allow the air to flow into and out of your lungs. Here, we will discuss the core muscles and how to engage them. 

  • Rectus abdominis: The rectus abdominis, or six-pack muscle, attaches from your lower ribs to the front of your pelvis and it stabilizes your trunk. For example, when you are doing pushups, it keeps your pelvis and trunk level. It brings your shoulders toward the pelvis, such as when you perform a crunch. 
  • Internal and external obliques: The internal and external obliques attach on the lateral sides of the trunk from your ribs to your pelvis and provide rotation and stability to the front and sides of your trunk.
  • Transverse abdominis: The transverse abdominis attaches from the lower spine under your ribs and around your body to the rectus abdominis. This is the deepest abdominal muscle, and it tightens up and provides support to the spine. 
  • Diaphragm: The diaphragm is attached to the underside of your lower ribs. It is mainly responsible for helping you breathe in and out.
  • Pelvic floor: The pelvic floor muscles are attached to the underside of your pelvis. These muscles help start and stop the flow of urine and feces.
  • Back extensors: Your back extensors are multilayered muscles. Back extensors include the erector spinae muscles, quadratus lumborum, and multifidi. All of these are attached along the spine to your pelvis. These muscles support your spine when you are bending forward and lifting loads, such as during squats or when you are doing bicep curls. 
  • Hip flexors: Hip flexors include the psoas and iliacus muscles. These are also attached to the spine and the inside of your pelvis.

Good Exercises for Core Engagement

Below are some basic abdominal stability exercises that beginners can easily incorporate into their workout regimen to engage their core. This is not a comprehensive list but it might help you understand more about how to engage your core muscles. To activate your core, always keep your back straight and rigid with a good posture. Also, tighten your glutes as you are doing the exercises.In general, pilates can be considered an excellent way to achieve an engaged core.

Pilates is an exercise regimen that is usually performed on a floor mat or with the use of specialized apparatus in a gym.

You can greatly improve your flexibility and stability by strengthening the muscles of your abdomen and lower back. There are all kinds of simple fitness exercises that will help you engage your core muscles and improve your ability to do arm circles in an effective way. Some of the most basic ones are explained below. They include the abdominal draw, the bird dog, the plank, the dead bug, and the bridge.

  • The abdominal draw: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Suck your stomach in and imagine bringing your belly button to your spine. You should still be able to breathe but you should feel the muscles around your abdomen and sides tighten. Your back should not move and also make sure it is not arched or pushed into the ground. Hold for up to 10 seconds. Relax and repeat the movement. 
  • The Bird Dog: Kneel on your hands and knees. Flatten your back without arching up or sinking in. Start by reaching one arm out in front of you and then extend the opposite leg out. Keep your hips facing down toward the floor, rather than turned out toward the side. You should feel the muscles in your abdomen and back working. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat the movement with the opposite arm and leg.
  • The Plank: Begin in a pushup position on your hands and toes (or on your knees and elbows). Draw your abdomen toward your spine and keep your buttocks in line with your body. You should feel all the muscles in your abdomen working. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds. 
  • The Side Plank: Turn on your side with your elbow on the ground and one foot on top of the other. Lift your hip into the air so that your side is perpendicular to the ground. Maintain good alignment of your feet, hips, and elbows and keep your shoulders over your elbows. You should feel the obliques in your lower side working. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds. 
  • The Dead Bug: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Tighten your abdominals and keep your back flat while you lift your knees so that your hips and knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Slowly tap one toe to the ground and return.
  • The Bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your trunk and your pelvis together as you squeeze your buttocks and lift them off the ground. Hold for a count of five. Relax and repeat the movement.

Core Strength Training  

All of these ab exercises can really help you manage and sometimes even prevent health problems. 

Doing ab exercises like cable crunches regularly can lead to far higher levels of overall health and really help you do arm circles with the best possible form. A strong core will keep you grounded as you perform your arm circles.

Your core has sometimes been considered the basis for all of your weightlifting strength. You will find that when you do a lot of ab exercises, your lower body and your core muscles are sure to strengthen. Your abdominals and lower abs, as well as your obliques and deep core muscles like the transverse abdominis are very important muscles to train.

With sit-ups as well as with a lot of these exercises, you will find the tension in your deep inner-core muscles becoming very intense. Although some weightlifters train their abs mostly with crunches, the main jobs for your core should always be focused on antiextension and antiflexion, because these are some of the key fitness goals to pursue when you are trying to engage your core during your workout routine.

Carry On Doing Arm Circles

In addition to using your core, arm circles can really work on toning the muscles in your shoulder and arm such as biceps and triceps. They also work on your upper back muscles, so they can be considered a full body workout.

If they are done along with some other workouts such as wide grip barbell curls that target your arm muscles or even with kettlebells and other shoulder exercises, arm circles can also help improve their overall muscle tone and appearance.