My Home Pilates Reformer

January 31, 2021 in Blogs

5 Pilates moves on the Reformer to get you going

5 Pilates moves on the Reformer to you going banner

1) Stomach Massage Series

The first of the reformer moves is the stomach massage series. This exercise is great for activating the deep abdominal muscles and other internal muscles. This series also makes some more following challenging movements easier, where you can go deeper into the movement, as teaser.

Tip: you may want to put a sticky mat down first on the Reformer carriage where you sit, this
helps stops you from moving backward.

Tip: try to get us as close and tight as you can to the foot bar.


Set up – Seated facing the foot bar, sit close to the springs, Pilates V with the feet and hands
hold the front corners of the carriage, either side of your hips

1) Round Back  C curve in spine, press carriage out, lower heels under foot bar and lift heels, bring carriage in.

2) Flat Back  reach for shoulder blocks behind, broaden chest so flattening the back, straight spine, Pilates V, lower heels under foot bar & lift heels.

3) Reach arms lengthen, straight forward and parallel, straight spine, Pilates V, lower and lift heels.

4) Twist  add a twist on the way out, with alternative arms opening out, as the carriage returns reset arm position to (3)

2) Arms Pulling Straps

Exactly as it says this exercise! However, you can add in a number of variations.

Tip: Before you pull down on the straps, bring them slightly forward, so there is tension on
them – this is the position that you want to come back to each and every time.

Tip: As with all supine positions, the headrest should be down.

Lady completing reformer move with Arms Pulling Straps down to her pockets


Set up lying on your back, knees tucked into table-top, arms straight and to the ceiling, bringing arms slightly forward, so there is tension on the straps.

1) Straight Pull downs palms of hands facing downwards, arms straight, pull down the straps towards your pockets and then reset, so your arms return to the ceiling.

Add on – each time you pull your arms down then add on a curl-up, chin comes to chest, pulling your navel down towards the carriage, and then release as your arms rest to the starting position.

2) T shape turn your palms so they are facing towards your pockets, bring your arms out into a T shape and then draw your arms back towards you

3) Single strap pull downs you are firstly going to need to change to a lighter spring. With only a strap in your right hand, continue with straight pull downs as in (1), this time you are working more into the lats to keep your balance. Notice how it feels different, and you need to steady yourself more when you are working with just one strap. Then reverse sides, using only the left

3) Long Stretch

Lady on reformer doing Long Stretch, hand on foot bar and feet up into shoulder blocks

This reformer move is part of the bar series. You are facing the front with your hands hip distance apart on the bar. Long stretch is often called full plank, and a strong position. You can build up to it by doing ½ plank version, by resting on your knees. This move builds arm strength.

Tip: biggest tip here, either doing the full plank version or half plank version is with the hips. In ½ plank version bring your hips slightly forward towards the foot bar. In full plank version lower your hips. In both versions, there should be one long line from the crown of your head to your tailbone, and you should maintain this long line throughout the position.

Tip: a lighter spring makes this position harder. However, in full plank position, you want to have on a heavier spring, to bring a bit of stability to the carriage as you push it back.

Set up: arms straight and hands at hip distance apart of the foot bar, all fingers & thumbs wrapped over the foot bar, shoulders over wrists, one long line between the crown of the head to the tailbone, in both the full plank version and ½ plank version. Feet are up against the

Group of Pilates students in studio doing half plank, on knees with hands on foot bar and feet back into shoulder blocks

1) ½ plank version knees resting on the carriage, drop your hips slightly towards the foot bar, inhale and as you exhale push the carriage back, maintaining the long line between crown and tailbone, bring the carriage all the way in. Come over the foot bar to start again.

2) Full plank version as in ½ plank setup, but in a full plank without knees resting on the carriage. Really pushing up strongly through the hands and shoulders, to maintain the nice long line.

4) Mermaid

Lady practicing mermaid on the reformer, stretching upper hand over foot bar in front of her

The sideway seated position is great for lengthening and stretching the obliques right down your side, along with a bit of shoulder action.

Tip: think as you windmill your arms from the front of the carriage to the back that you are within 2 planes of glass.

Set up: sit in a Z shape (leg farthest from the foot bar tucks behind you with knee and shin up against the headrest, your other leg comes in front of you with shin parallel with the side of the carriage).

1) Pushing away from the foot bar with your arm and reaching your other arm overhead, so you have a long stretch down your side of your body, bringing the carriage in and then wind-milling your arms the other way to stretch down your other side.

2) Version 2 – turning your chest towards the foot bar both hands will grip the foot bar hip-distance apart. Lifting the chest to start with, then pushing back out of arms to move the carriage back. As the carriage comes forward really lifting the chest forward and up, so you get a good stretch right across the chest. Bring the carriage all the way home to the stopper before you push back out.

4) Teaser (on the Long Box)

Lady practicing reformer move the Teaser, on the Long Box

This is not a beginner’s reformer move but you can build up to it! You need a great deal of coordination and strong abdominal muscles to lift your legs up together into a ‘V’ position. This is why in Pilates we do all sorts of other positions to help us build up our core muscles and coordination and balance to help us get into these more difficult and challenging positions! Everything has a purpose and reason.

Tip: You need to maintain tension on the straps to steady yourself as you come up into the position. Your palms should be facing the ceiling.

Set up: Put your box on the Reformer, long box. Lying on your back over the long box with legs facing the foot bar, legs together draped over the foot bar, and with tension on the straps in your hands. Both head and shoulders are leaning back and your arms are to your sides with your palms facing the ceiling.

1) As you sit-up, raise your legs together, rounding the spine coming into a ‘V’ shape. You will need to maintain tension on the straps to assist with you getting up into the ‘V’ position. Carefully, then roll down into the starting position, with your waistband coming down first onto the box. Don’t forget to smile at the top!

Wanting to learn more about buying a home Reformer, then refer to our Buying Guide

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