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How to Use a Pilates Reformer: Complete Guide for Beginners

by Shafi Khan |

The Pilates Reformer is one of the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment on the market. It can be used to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and balance, and even help you lose weight.

This article will explain how to use a Pilates reformer for beginners. We've also covered a few common mistakes that most Pilates beginners do so that you can avoid them.

What is a Pilates Reformer?

A Pilates reformer is a machine with springs that supports your body weight as you move in various ways across it. The machine consists of a long platform that has an adjustable carriage at each end which moves up and down along a track or rail system connected by pulleys to create resistance against which you work out while performing exercises such as pushups, squats, planks, etc. 

A typical session on a Pilates reformer would last from 30-45 minutes.

How to Use a Pilates Reformer: Beginner's Guide

Using a Pilates reformer is very easy. The first thing to do is to sit at the edge of the reformer, swing the feet around, and lie down on the reformer.

To Work on Arches

After that, you need to start with the footwork series starting with your arches. Tighten the body and press all the way out and in which will tense the muscles in the legs.

Keep your pelvis from lifting and continue to press back and forth on the reformer.

To Work on Heels

Next, you can go on the heels, tighten the muscles in the legs, and bend the knee to press all the way out and in.

To Work on Toes

Similarly, go on your toes, reach with your arms tightened up domino's, and bend the knees to press all the way out and in. Make sure to prevent your feet from lifting or lowering down.

Let's now discuss different parts of a Pilates reformer and how to use them.

Pilates Reformer Springs

The Pilates reformer has a variety of springs that create different levels and types of resistance. Usually, the color-coded springs mean:

  • Yellow = very light resistance
  • Blue = light resistance
  • Red = regular or full resistance
  • Green= heavy resistance

You'll be provided with instructions from your instructor on which one is best for you so make sure to pay attention.

If it feels too easy or difficult, raise your hands up in order to have them adjust accordingly depending on what does not suit the current condition.

Pilates Reformer Straps

A Pilates Reformer machine features a strap that functions as both an upper body and lower body workout. These are known as a long and short sets.

The straps are used in various techniques, but typically the shorter ones provide more tension for traditional routines that focus on stability or balance work from your middle section to toes - especially when doing exercises like planks with long legs up high off of one riser surface while keeping weight back through heels.

The longer straps are usually reserved for heavier resistance training movements where it's necessary to have greater support underneath you during execution.

Tension can also be created by tying off these loose ends at both sides once they're attached.

Pilates Reformer Foot Bar

You need to change your foot bar up or down during class; do this based on how long you're sitting (based on torso length).

When doing so make sure not to strain yourself by moving too far forward/backward when assuming an upright position.

When lying down, your legs should be at a 90-degree angle and position yourself against the machine's shoulder rest to allow for comfort.

To initiate bar movement hold each side of it with both hands before lifting up but only enough that won't lock one side in place.

Pilates Reformer Jumpboard

Pilates reformer jumpboard is a fun way to get your heart rate up.

The jumpboard replaces the foot bar on an exercise machine. It's got padding, so you won't have any stress on joints while doing jumping or running exercises without weight-bearing.

All you need to do is just lunge forward and hop in place - it feels light as if gravity were out of the equation because spring tension takes care that both forces & momentum are towards the earth’s surface instead which makes this easier.

Pilates Reformer Front Platform

The front platform of a Pilates reformer is not just for standing on. You can also do all kinds of things like squats and inner thigh exercises.

The front platform can also be used as an alternative "safe space" if you feel like falling or sustaining an injury during these exercises at first until they become more accustomed to what's going on in this unstable environment so there will never again have been any hesitation from doing anything difficult.

Common Pilates Reformer Mistakes Most Beginners Make

Moving Too Quickly

In a Pilates reformer class, you'll quickly learn that it's not just about going hard for short periods of time. In fact, the controlled movements and slower pace make this type of exercise more challenging than sprinting on an incline or doing Tabata squats with heavyweights in between repeats.

In most cases when we think "Pilates," our minds instantly jump to images involving moving from station to station at breakneck speeds while trying nonstop abdominal crunches. But there’s another side: slow-motion movements which require great focus but offer unparalleled potential benefits if done correctly.

Forgetting to Breathe

Breathing is key to any exercise routine. Pilates reformer exercises are no exception, especially when you're concentrating on perfecting the coordination between movement and breath.

Since muscles are being used in different ways, this means not breathing correctly can lead to fainting or feeling faint, so it's critical to take short breaths instead of holding them for a long time.

Making Movements Big

Pilates is all about working the little muscles. Using a limited range of motion, Pilates can really target those deep muscle groups that Pilates is known for.

But it may be confusing for newcomers since they think bigger movements equal better results when actually what you want with these targeted smaller ones firing first before using larger ones or other parts on your body.

Pilates is not about making larger movements. The key to Pilates, as with most things in life (and exercise) is learning how your body works and what can benefit it best - whether that's using different muscles or targeting smaller ones with exercises tailored just for them.

Final Words

So, there you have it - all you need to know about how to use a Pilates reformer machine and different equipment. Pilates reformer is the most versatile piece of Pilates equipment that helps you get fit without having to join a gym. It provides effective workouts for all levels at home for everyone who wants to be able to work out just about anywhere, anytime.

If you're looking to invest in a quality Pilates reformer, make sure to check our best Pilates reformer for a home guide.