How to Do Pilates Windmill on the Arc Barrel

Inside: Pilates Windmill is a wonderful ab-toning, thigh-trimming exercise on the Arc barrel. Here’s how to correctly practice this exercise.

Pilates Windmill is one of my favorite Arc barrel exercises. I love trimming my thighs with circumduction while moving my legs opposite from each other in half circles. There is something about that half circle movement that is very relaxing and comforting for me. Maybe it’s because one hip flexor stretches while the other one works.

Even though this exercise is delightful, you have to pay attention to your body while practicing it. When you reach your legs apart, make sure to reach them evenly. You can’t let your leg that moves away from you lower drastically while your front leg barely creeps toward your face. If your leg reaches too far away, your hip flexors will be grumpy when you try to recruit them to do that much work.

It’s not uncommon for people with tight or weak psoas muscles (your main hip flexor) to have a grinding in their hip as they move. Just because this is normal, doesn’t mean you should continue this way!

In fact, if you feel grinding, reduce your range of motion on your next rep. Try to make your half circles smaller and smaller until the grinding feeling goes away. Once it’s gone, you can work on discovering what the right size half circle is for you today. If the grinding doesn’t go away, just skip this exercise for today.

You should never continue an exercise (Pilates or otherwise) where you feel grinding in your hip.

For many people, there will be no grinding or no particular issues. Be mindful that, if you feel a grinding in the future, you should decrease your range of motion or stop the exercise entirely. Here’s more on how to do this hip-stretching, thigh-trimming Arc barrel exercise.

Pilates Windmill

  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. Inhale and bring your right leg toward your face as your left leg reaches evenly away. Make sure your legs are completely straight. You should be in a “V” of sorts.
  10. pilates windmill on the Arc barrelExhale and half circle your legs so your left leg is reaching toward you and your right leg is reaching away from you. Then, bring your legs up to center.
  11. Inhale and bring your left leg toward your face as your right leg reaches evenly away. Make sure your legs are completely straight. Don’t let your back leg lower more than your front leg.
  12. Exhale and half circle your legs so your right leg is reaching toward you and your left leg is reaching away from you. Then, bring your legs up to center. This counts as 1 rep.
  13. Complete 5-10 reps.
  14. To finish, 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 Windmill Video

Remember, if you feel a grinding in your hip socket, you should decrease your range of motion. If the grinding continues, don’t do this exercise today. In a few days, you can give it a try again.

I hope you love Pilates Windmill on the Arc barrel just as much as I do. If you do, let us know why 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 Windmill 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.