What Is An Arm Circle

The arm circle is a dynamic stretch exercise, used to warm up the shoulder and arm muscles.

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Video of the Arm Circles Exercise

Check out our dynamic warm-up article for more information on why doing these before working out will optimize performance!

How To Do Arm Circles

Arm Circles are very easy to perform. Begin standing tall with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Raise your hands straight above your head and proceed to swing them forwards, down, and behind you to form a circle. Continue this movement for 30 seconds and then change the direction of your circles by starting to swing backward.

Step by Step Arm Circle Exercise

Start by swinging both arms behind you then bring them forward into a circular motion. Try to make them as big as you can and do so in a safe range of motion.

After completing forward circles be sure to perform them backward as well.


Arm Circles Benefits

Arm circles can be beneficial to perform and here"s why. Before exercising it’s important to warm up your body and prepare your muscles to execute the workout optimally. Arm circles are a great dynamic warm-up for the shoulders, trapezius, biceps, and triceps.

Arm Circles Muscles Worked

Why Would You Do Arm Circles

Arm circles are useful when you want to warm up your arms before attempting an upper or full-body workout. They can also be used as a shoulder exercise! Performing arm circles long enough can get tiring and you"ll start to feel the burn.

Variations of the Arm Circles

If you want to make arm circles more challenging, you can do them with small weights. Adding resistance can make the exercises much more challenging and is a great way to develop your deltoid muscles.

Arm Circles Workout

Arm Circles are generally used as a dynamic warm-up. Begin with Tight Arm Circles for 30 seconds in each direction. After, try large Arm Circles for 30 seconds in each direction. Repeat this cycle 2-3 times before activity.

Raised Arm Circles

Raised Arm Circles is just another term for Arm Circles. In some cases, the Raised Arm Circle may more closely resemble the Tight Arm Circle, however, they all involve the same movement. The only difference between the two is the size of the circle you are making with your arms.

Tight Arm Circles

Tight Arm Circles are simply smaller circles that you make with your arms. Begin with your arms extended out to the side so that they are perpendicular to the torso. Slowly begin to move the arms forwards in a circular motion. The object of tight arm circles is that the circles are very small, they can be ¼ the size of the regular Arm Circle. Remember to perform the Tight Arm Circles backward once you have finished!

Arm Circles with Weights

Arm Circles with Weights are an Arm Circle performed with ankle/wrist weights on the arm. You could also hold a light dumbbell to complete the Arm Circle with Weight. These Arm Circles should be smaller than the ones we have previously described, and resemble the Tight Arm Circle.

Arm Circles with Weights should be performed with caution as over time they may cause pain in the shoulder, or even result in shoulder impingement.

What Do Arm Circles Do

Arm Circles are a great way to warm up the shoulders, specifically the muscles in the Rotator Cuff. If your muscles are really tight, you can begin with small circles and gradually increase your swings to complete large circles. Arm circles are considered to be a dynamic movement that is beneficial to perform before a workout.

How Many Calories Do Arm Circles Burn

As with any exercise, the number of calories that the body will use depends on your individual weight and how long you decide to perform the movement. As arm circles are usually only performed for a short period of time, you can estimate that you will burn a lower amount of calories.

The longer you perform the exercise (and the more that you weigh the more calories you will use. An individual who is 150lbs who performs arm circles for 5 minutes could burn around 40 calories, but this also depends on the intensity that they are performing the Arm Circles at.

Why Are Arm Circles Considered a Dangerous Stretching Exercise

For some people, Arm Circles are considered a dangerous stretching exercise. As we previously mentioned, arm circles can cause pain and sometimes shoulder impingement because of the position of the arms. Adding an ankle or wrist weight to the movement can cause even more stress on the shoulder which is why some trainers avoid the exercise.

A safer alternative to Arm Circles that will help to develop the Deltoid is the Lateral Raise. The Lateral Raise will eliminate the extra rotation that is occurring at the shoulder and reduce the risk of impingement.

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Arm Circles Are an Effective Dynamic Stretch for Swimmers Because They

Arm Circles are an effective dynamic stretch for swimmers because the movement of the upper body mimics that of their movement in the water. It is a fantastic way for swimmers to directly engage the muscles of the rotator cuff that they consistently use in the pool. Arm Circles can also help to improve stamina in the muscles of the shoulder.