Breaststroke on the Reformer

If you have a friend handy, have them stand at the back of the Reformer and lightly press into your calves as you reach to help assist in this exercise.

  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Equipment Needed: Reformer, Long Box, Straps
  • Reps: 3 in each direction
  • Warning: Not ideal for anyone suffering with lower back pain, shoulder or neck issues. If you can safely do Swimming on the Mat, Flying Eagle Arms on the Cadillac and other extension exercises then you can add this exercise in.
  • Questions: Contact us here

Breaststroke on the Reformer

** Private online Pilates sessions available with Lesley Logan on request, click here **

I used to think the Pilates Reformer Breaststroke was where I should show off my Cirque moves! You know, backbend for days! But actually, the longer you make this extension the better it is. In fact, now I have found I soar across the room. Breaststroke on the Reformer makes me feel so strong and when I don't have an assistant to really help me get a long lift I focus on the strength and opposing reach in my body. If the first direction feels like a lot, stick with it and wait to add the reverse in when you are ready.

The longer you make your extension the better this exercise is!

With one spring on and your long box set up, stand to the side of your Reformer with your thumbs hooked in your handles. Press out on the handles and grab the corners of your box and lay on your long box. Head towards the springs, knees at the very edge (very edge!) of the box. I like to have my hands on the carriage or reach back towards the end of the reformer. Hug your legs tight together and reach your tailbone towards the box to help engage your abdominals. Kick your seat three times with your hips pressing into the box. Reach your arms forward and your legs straight back. As you reach forward you may arch your upper back and then reach your arms out to the side and back to the start position. Repeat 2 more times.

If that direction goes well, Reverse! But, be sure to flip your palms so your whole hand presses into the handle as you reach your arms wide to the side and forward as your upper back grows long and finds the extension. Stay long as you lower your body back to the box. If this was challenging repeat 2 more times. If you were able to find length and strength without the straps pulling you back then add the combo after the first reverse. Begin with the first position and then instead of lowering down when your arms go wide flip your palms reach forward and lower with control. If you have a friend handy have them stand at the back of the Reformer and lightly press into your calves as you reach to help assist in this exercise.


Be sure to check out more of my online Pilates Reformer exercises. I want to help you continue your Pilates Reformer training!

Loving this Pilates exercise tutorial? Take weekly online Pilates mat classes with Lesley Logan.

Enjoying Lesley's teaching style? Willing to travel? Explore the world while maintaining your practice by joining Lesley on a Pilates retreat.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.