10 Pilates Reformer Exercises For A Full-Body Workout

Blog posts 10 Pilates Reformer Exercises For A Full-Body Workout

Pilates Reformer exercises are becoming increasingly popular as people realize their effectiveness in achieving a full-body workout. A Pilates Reformer is a piece of equipment that consists of a sliding carriage, springs, ropes, and pulleys, which help you perform various exercises that target different muscle groups in your body. In this article, we will discuss ten Pilates Reformer exercises that will give you a full-body workout and leave you feeling energized and refreshed.

  1. Footwork: This exercise targets the alignment of the body and stimulates pressure points in the foot.  When done completely the legs, glutes and core are worked effectively.  Lay on your back on the carriage, put your feet on the foot bar and then push the carriage out by straightening your legs. Bend the knees to bring the carriage back in.  Footwork can be done on the toes, arches, heels and in Pilates stance.
  2. Short Spine: This exercise provides a spinal massage by articulating the spine and helping to stretch the lower back.  To perform this exercise lie on your back on the carriage with your feet in the straps.  Legs are at a 45 degree angle to start with and then raise the hips to lift the feet into the air until the carriage closes.  Bend the knees to the shoulders with feet in a Pilates stance and then slowly roll the back down to the carriage and then extend the legs to the starting position
  3. Hundreds: Used to help strengthen and provide endurance in the core. A great warm up exercise that gets the circulation and breath working simultaneously. This is especially great as it can be modified and progressed depending on the needs of the client.  Initially hands are in the straps and legs are in table top position.  Arms are drawn down by the side as the head curls forward (if the client is capable of this). While the arms pump up and down about 6 inches beside the hips the breath is used to inhale for 5 pumps and exhale for 5 pumps until a total of 100 pumps is achieved. This exercise can be progressed by extending the legs at different levels, or modified by keeping the head down.
  4. Elephant:  This exercise isolates and strengthens the hips and stretches the back of the legs.  To perform this exercise, stand on the carriage with your hands on the foot bar and your feet flat on the carriage up against the shoulder pads (if your leg length allows it – you can bring the feet forward if you have shorter legs). Press through the heels and push the carriage away with the back of the legs in a small movement.  Draw the abdominal muscles in and up as your bring the carriage back in with your core.
  5. Chest Expansion: This exercise opens the chest and shoulders while simultaneously strengthening the back muscles.  Sit on a box or for the more intermediate to advanced client kneeling on the carriage facing the puller risers.  Place your hands in the straps with your arms straight down by the side.  Reaching the fingers down and keeping the shoulders back and open, draw the arms back towards the foot bar.
  6. Long Stretch: A complex body movement that targets abdominals and scapular stabilises; improves awareness of hip and shoulder disassociation.  With hands on the foot bar and feet up against the shoulder pads lift the body into a plank position.  Push the carriage out with the shoulder girdle while keeping the body level by engaging the core, glutes, hips and legs.  Draw the carriage back in by engaging shoulder stabilisers and keeping the chest wide use the shoulders to bring it back in.
  7. Stomach Massage:  The name explains the reason of the exercise.  It massages the internal organs.  It also strengthen the upper back and increases core strength.  Performed in a round back, flat back and with a reach of the arms.  After sitting on the carriage facing the foot bar, place the feet on the bar in a Pilates stance. For the round back the hands are on the carriage to help pull the spine up and round out the back.  The hands reach back to the shoulder pads for the flat back position.  Finally the arms are straight out in front of the body while the body is lifted.  Push the carriage out with the feet and draw it back in with the core.
  8. Swan: This exercise targets the back muscles and helps extend the spine.  Best performed on the sitting box, lay on your stomach on the box facing the foot bar with your hands on the bar.  Press the carriage out with the shoulders so that the arms are straight.  As the carriage comes in lift the chest off the box to extend the spine.  Press back out as you lower the chest back to the box, bend the arms and bring the carriage back to the start position.
  9. Knee Stretch: This exercise targets the core and lower body muscles. For this exercise kneel on the carriage and place your hands on the foot bar.  Round the spine and press the carriage out with the knees, keeping the shoulders still.  Draw the carriage back in by scooping the abdominal muscles and bending the knees.
  10. Teaser: This is a full body exercise that targets the core and works each muscle in the body to achieve the movement.  To perform this exercise place the sitting box on the carriage and lay on your back on the sitting box with your feet at the foot bar end. Place your hands in the straps and arms are long and to the side of the body.  Legs are in table top.  Draw in the abdominal muscles as you raise your arms and extend your legs to lift the body off the box and balance on your tailbone.  Hold this position for 3 seconds and then slowly roll down articulating the spine until you are lying flat on the box in the starting position.


In conclusion, these ten Pilates Reformer exercises provide a full-body workout that targets different muscle groups in your body. Incorporating them into your fitness routine will help you improve your strength, flexibility, and posture. If you're looking for a Pilates Reformer in Australia, visit Pilates Reformers Australia for a range of high-quality equipment to enhance your workout experience.