Overhead on the Reformer

Overhead is a great way to prepare for the Rowing series. Reach you do towards the ceiling will be the same reach you need as you Row and do your Teaser.

  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Equipment Needed: Reformer (I love using the Contrology Reformer.)
  • Reps: 3-5
  • Warning: Not ideal for those with neck and shoulder issues
  • Questions: Contact us here

Overhead on the Reformer

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Overhead on the Pilates Reformer gets a lot of flak. Many people wonder why on earth do we do this exercise so early in the workout. But the truth is, Overhead is just like Roll Over on the Mat. And this exercise is more than meets the eye. While it looks like Jackknife, it's a great way to stretch your spine and warm up your back. Overhead is a great way to prepare for the Rowing series. The reach you do towards the ceiling will be the same reach you need as you Row and do your Teaser and rest of your Pilates workout.

Overhead is a great way to prepare for the Rowing series.

To set yourself up for the Overhead on the Reformer have two heavy springs on your Reformer and take your headrest down. Laying on your back place your hands in the handles and reach your arms to the sky. Your legs are long on the Reformer (footbar is down). Simultaneously press your hands down to the mat and lift your legs up. Then your hips will lift overhead as you press your whole arm into the carriage. Reach your legs long behind you but not down towards the well. It’s easy to let the legs drop down. Then lift your legs to the sky and then roll down towards the carriage. As your legs reach down to the footbar lift your arms to the ceiling and return the carriage with control. Repeat three to five more times.

As your legs move in space watch out that you don’t look down towards your stomach or legs. It will change the length of our spine. Maintain your gaze to the ceiling as you move. Once the legs reach overhead it will be tempting to drop them back down but remember how you did Jackknife on the mat? Continue to lift your hips and reach your legs up as you lower your spine down. You’ll need a lot of seat for this control. As the legs lower towards the footbar press your arms and shoulders back resisting the urge to lift the head and shoulders.

Overhead is a great warm up exercise, it stretches and warms up your back for future exercises in the workout. It also has a great rhythm that helps connect you more to the exercise. You’ll go Over and Up on a 1, 2. Then you can take your time lowering down and reaching the legs long onto the footbar.

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

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Comments (2)

Wow!! I just got your Reformer Flashcards and I am blown away. So much hard work went into these and your related tutorials. I was a regular attendee at in-person Pilates classes before Covid hit. When things shut down, I got a reformer at home but there is nothing like the assistance and keen eye of an instructor. Your cards are a great help until I feel comfortable going back to the studio, and I am sure will be a great complement thereafter. Thank you!

Wow, Jennifer, thank you!! I’m so happy these cards can support you in your personal practice at home. I hear ya on the in person. It took me some time to get used to self-practice. And, I try to make sure the way I teach exercises helps you be your own teacher. Let us know if you have any questions xx~LL

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