Pilates reformer exercises are low-impact workouts that help you tone your body. Try out the best Pilates reformer exercises to improve your posture, strengthen your core, and relieve back pain.

Pilates has become one of the most trending forms of workout these days and for the right reasons. It is a low-impact, beginner-friendly workout that helps strengthen and tone the core. While Pilates can be performed without any major equipment as well, it also requires a reformer machine. Pilates reformer exercises are performed lying down on a sliding bed-like frame with springs – the reformer machine. Here are some of the best Pilates reformer exercises to stay fit and fine.

What is a Pilates reformer?

Joseph Hubertus Pilates, a German physical trainer, was the founder of the Pilates method. He developed Pilates reformer machines by adding springs to the bottoms of hospital beds to rehabilitate injured soldiers without using force. The Pilates reformer features a flat platform that slides back and forth, and exercises can be performed lying, sitting, kneeling, or standing on it. Below this platform, there are four or five springs attached that offer varying degrees of resistance. The reformer bed contains shoulder blocks that support your head and neck, align your shoulders, and help you open your chest. An adjustable bar known as the footbar is located at the end of the platform spring which helps to strengthen the legs and upper body, by placing the hands or feet on the footbar and moving the carriage in and out.

Also Read: Pilates do’s and don’ts: Keep these things in mind before signing up this intense exercise

Pilates reformer exercises
5 best Pilates reformer exercises you must try. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

5 easy and effective Pilates reformer exercises you must try!

Here are some of the best Pilates reformer exercises to incorporate into your fitness routine for an effective full-body workout, as explained by Pilates instructor Anjali Chandiramani.

1. Leg circles on Pilates reformer

  • Attach 2 springs to the platform for an intense resistance workout. Now, hook the extension straps through the handles.
  • Gently, lie down on the platform with knees bent and feet pointed out.
  • To secure your feet in the loops, lift the straps above your head and slide each foot in one at a time.
  • With your hands flat on the platform and your arms out by your sides, tense your pelvis.
  • Begin with your knees bent into your chest, tailbone down, heels together, and toes slightly apart in a little V.
  • Extend your legs completely so that they make a 45-degree angle to the platform.
  • Keep your heels together and your toes pointed out.
  • Make sure your knees are inside the straps. To maintain your lower back flat on the mat, tighten your abs and squeeze your glutes.
  • Begin rotating your legs in small, outward circles. Make sure your pelvis remains stationary and your legs rotate in an even circle.
  • After 6 repetitions, circle your legs in the opposite direction.

2. Frog on the Pilates reformer

  • Attach two springs to the platform to provide the appropriate resistance. Pass the extension straps through the opposite ends of footbar.
  • Position yourself on the platform with your feet pointed and your knees bent.
  • Lift the straps over your head, then insert one foot after another into the loops to secure them.
  • Press your pelvis down, keeping your arms long at your sides and your hands flat against the platform.
  • Begin with your knees bent into your chest, tailbone down, heels together, and toes slightly apart in a little V.
  • Fully extend your legs so that they are 60 degrees and at a 45-degree angle with the platform.
  • Keep your heels pointed and together, and your toes pointing out. Make sure the straps are positioned between your knees.
  • Squeeze your glutes and pull your abdominals in to keep your lower back flat on the mat.
  • Bend your knees into your chest, tuck your tailbone in, bring your heels together, spread your toes, and repeat.

Also Read: Pilates vs. Yoga: Which one may be right for you?

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3. Reformer footwork

  • Attach 4 springs to the platform.
  • Place yourself on the Pilates reformer platform and lie down on your back.
  • Form a little V by placing the balls of your feet on the footbar, heels together, and toes apart.
  • Lift your heels and slightly expand your knees so that they align with your middle toes.
  • Place your arms at your sides, palms flat on the platform, and shoulders against the shoulder blocks, bringing them down away from your ears.
  • Look at the footbar while keeping your head down.
  • Maintaining your core in place and your lower back flat on the mat, straighten your legs and apply pressure to your glutes to push the reformer’s platform out.
  • Hold this position for a moment. Firm your glutes.
  • Push your feet against the foot bar, then bend your knees out over the centres of your feet before returning to the beginning position with control.

4. Elephants on pilates reformer

  • Stand on the Pilates reformer platform. Flex your toes upward and press your heels up against the shoulder blocks. With your elbows straight, place your palms on the foobar. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull your abs in to tuck your chin and round your tailbone under you. Pull down under your armpits to press your shoulders downward.
  • Squeeze your glutes, engage your core, breathe out, and push the platform back.
  • Just make hip motions. Send your hips back slightly to slide the platform back while keeping your upper body still.
  • Inhale and bring the platform forward to its starting position by bringing your hips under you. Keep your lower back rounded and your shoulders down.

5. Running on Pilates reformer

  • Lie flat on your back on the Pilates reformer platform. Place your toes on the footbar, feet together, arms extended at your sides, and palms down.
  • Straighten your legs.
  • Lower your right heel and bend your left knee. Do not allow your knee to roll in or disengage your glutes.
  • Slide back up by lowering your left heel, straightening your left leg, bending your right knee, and raising your right heel.
  • Continue to switch. Make sure your knees do not roll in.

What are the benefits of pilates reformer exercises?

Here are some of the effective benefits of Pilates reformer exercises as explained by the expert.

1. Strengthens muscles, and improves stability and flexibility

Pilates reformer exercises target specific muscle groups for improved strength, particularly in the core, arms, legs, and back. It also helps in improving stability by engaging different muscles. It also enhances flexibility and range of motion through controlled movements and stretches.

2. Enhances posture

Promotes proper alignment and posture by strengthening core muscles and correcting muscle imbalances. If you work on a laptop most of the day and suffer from posture problems, incorporate Pilates reformer exercises into your fitness regimen.

3. Supports rehabilitation

If you are recovering from injury and looking for a low-impact full-body workout, this is a good exercise for you. Start doing Pilates reformer exercises as these exercises provide low-impact resistance training which is suitable for rehabilitation and injury prevention, allowing a controlled movement that strengthens muscles.

Also Read: Strength training: Exercises for beginners to get stronger

4. Boosts coordination

Pilates reformer exercises are all about precise movements and focus on proper form, which helps enhance coordination and mind-body connection through. Plus, it also helps to keep stress and anxiety at bay.

pilates and dance
Doing Pilates regularly helps maintain posture. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Versatility

Pilates is a great low-impact full-body workout. Pilates reformer exercises offer a wide range of exercises that can target various muscle groups and movement patterns, providing a comprehensive full-body workout.

Are there any side effects of Pilates reformer exercises?

Pilates reformer exercises offer a holistic approach to fitness, addressing strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination in a controlled and supportive environment. However, it is important to consult with your doctor before incorporating these exercises into your fitness routine.

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