How to Do Pilates Bicycle on the Arc Barrel

Inside: Pilates bicycle on the Arc barrel is quite a bit easier if you can instinctively pedal a bike. I can’t, so here are step-by-step instructions for this Pilates Arc barrel exercise.

“It’s just like riding a bicycle.” That quote is a thing that people say when they’re trying to tell you that something will come naturally to you. However, I can attest that riding a bicycle doesn’t come easily to everyone.

I hadn’t ridden a bicycle in years when I learned the Pilates Bicycle exercise on the Arc barrel. We reached our legs into the air, and our teacher told us to imagine we were riding a very large bicycle as we pedaled our legs.

While some people’s legs gracefully glided through the air, mine somehow flailed like dying fish.

It’s not that I don’t know how to ride a bike–I do. It’s just that sometimes when my brain tells my body to do something, my body can’t quite execute the orders. I know that I told my legs to glide through the air, crafting large, smooth circles. What I received instead were awkward, choppy hacks through the air with my legs and a very confused look from my teacher.

And this was when we were pedaling forward. I can’t even imagine what my legs must have looked like pedaling backward.

Over the past ten years, I have practiced this exercise and sharpened the connection between my brain and my body. Today, I can teach Pilates bicycle. Heck, I can even do it, too.

Here’s how to do Pilates bicycle on the Arc barrel.

Pilates Bicycle–Pedaling Forward

  1. Place the Arc barrel so that the curve seems like a bump in the road on your mat.
  2. Sit on top of the barrel.
  3. Scoot forward a little bit, like you’re sliding halfway down the barrel.
  4. Carefully, lower yourself back one vertebra at a time. As you roll your spine onto the barrel, you will notice that you slide down a little bit. This is normal. You should end with your hips at the apex of the barrel, your spine mostly connected to the barrel or the floor, and your shoulder blades and head resting on the mat. It should feel relatively comfortable.
  5. Broaden your collarbones, and press the palms of your hands into the sides of the barrel.
  6. Use Pilates breathing to inhale through your nose and exhale through pursed lips.
  7. Inhale to lift one leg up to Table top.
  8. Exhale to lift the other leg. Feel your low back reaching toward the barrel. Straighten your legs toward the ceiling. Point your feet.
  9. pilates bicycle on the arc barrelInhale and bring your right leg toward your face as your left leg reaches evenly away. Make sure your legs are completely straight here.
  10. Exhale as you bend your left leg and bring it toward your face. As the left leg moves toward you, the right leg reaches away.
  11. Inhale to straighten the left leg.
  12. Exhale to bend your right leg and bring it toward your face. As the right leg moves toward you, the left leg reaches away.
  13. Inhale to straighten the right leg. This completes one rep.
  14. Do 5-10 reps this direction. Then, reverse the direction.

Pilates Bicycle–Pedaling Backward

  1. End with your right leg toward your face.
  2. pilates bicycle on the arc barrelInhale to bend your right knee.
  3. Exhale to press your right leg straight away from you as your left leg stays straight and hinges up toward your face.
  4. Inhale to bend your left knee.
  5. Exhale to press your left leg straight away from you as your right leg stays straight and hinges up toward your face. This is one rep.
  6. Complete 5-10 reps this direction.
  7. To finish, bring your legs back to center. Fold your knees toward your chest and slide back to come off the barrel or stay put to do more leg exercises on the barrel.

Finding the Best Arc Barrel

If you’re in the market for an Arc barrel, I recently compared the top five Arc barrels on the market. Here’s who made my top five list and which barrel I’d buy.

Pilates Bicycle Video

I hope riding a bicycle is easier for you than it is for me.

Does the coordination element challenge you in Pilates Bicycle? Let us know in the comments below.

Also, I just want to let you know that if you’re interested in learning the basics of Pilates and yoga, I offer a FREE 30-day challenge. Click here to sign up today!

Here is a video of how to do Pilates bicycle for all the visual learners out there.

About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.