How to Do Backbends on the Pilates Reformer


The Pilates reformer is a machine that allows you to perform intense, targeted moves in order to get the most out of your workout. In this article, we’ll teach you how to do backbends on the reformer: one of the most challenging exercises but one that will help strengthen your core and improve posture. Ready to get started?

Adjust your machine.

  • Make sure that your carriage is in the middle of the machine, so that you can easily move back and forth on it. If it’s too far to one side or the other, you’ll have to reach forward or lean back to adjust it, which will throw off your balance when doing a backbend.
  • Check that your carriage is level so that it will be easy for you to maintain good posture during your backbends. If it’s not level, then one side of your body will be closer than the other (and therefore harder) when holding onto its handles.
  • Make sure that parallel lines would run through both handgrips and footrests if placed crosswise with respect to each other—that way, there won’t be any sloping areas where one side would naturally tend toward more than another side due to gravity pulling on different parts of our bodies at different rates!

Get on the carriage.

First, the carriage should be adjusted so that it is at your waist height. This will allow you to perform the backbend without straining your neck and back. Next, sit on the carriage with your feet firmly placed on the foot bar and knees bent so that they are positioned directly under your hips.

If you have trouble getting into this position using just your legs alone (the muscles of your glutes may not be strong enough), use a towel or two folded over itself to help get up onto the carriage. Once in place, adjust the carriage so that it is directly under both shoulders and then directly under both hips as well as directly under both knees (you can move these around slightly if needed).

Sit up tall.

When you’re on the Pilates Reformer, it’s crucial to stay as tall as possible. This means sitting up tall in your carriage and keeping your spine long. Don’t let the carriage sink down into the springs, which will compress them and make it more challenging to keep your ribcage lifted.

If you want to challenge yourself further, try not allowing your hips or shoulders to drop while keeping this position of height. If they do start sinking down (or if they were already down), take a break before continuing to avoid getting injured.

It’s also important not to let your head fall forward or dip below parallel with the floor; this can make it difficult for you to breathe properly during exercises like backbends because it puts pressure on vital organs like lungs and heart that need room for expansion when doing so much work like breathing at high rates during exercise.”

Roll down.

  • Keep your arms straight.
  • Roll down slowly, keeping your shoulders down and chest lifted. If you feel like you are lifting up from the pelvis or hips, then stop there—don’t overdo it! You can always come back up to a neutral position if you feel comfortable.
  • Make sure that the roll is comfortable for you and do not go too far down because of any discomfort in the lower back or neck.

Extend your arms behind you.

Extend your arms behind you.

  • Keep your arms straight.
  • Keep your chest open (don’t drop your shoulders).

Open your chest.

When performing backbends on the Pilates Reformer, it’s important to keep your chest open and your elbows bent. This allows for a smooth transition into the backbend, rather than a choppy one. As you’re moving into the back extension, relax your shoulders down toward your hips and let them drop as low as they can go before pulling them up again. This will help prevent injury to the shoulder joint.

When performing any movement on this machine or any other piece of equipment with which you are unfamiliar, it is crucial that you always maintain control and never rely on momentum to get yourself through an exercise safely! By all means use muscle power where necessary—but always remember: slow and easy wins the race!

Return to center.

  • Return to the starting position, taking a deep breath as you come up.
  • Repeat the series of exercises again, focusing on your breathing throughout.

Tap into your inner strength with backbends on the reformer!

One of the most important exercises you can do on the reformer is backbends. Backbends are a great way to stretch and open your spine, and they also help develop strength in your back, core, and shoulders. To do this exercise:

  • Take a seat on the reformer with your feet under the foot bar as usual
  • Lean forward until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings or lower back
  • Keep leaning until you feel like you can’t go any further while keeping tension in those muscles by pulling backward against gravity


Backbends are a great way to stretch and strengthen your spine. They also help with back pain and headaches, so if you’re feeling any sort of discomfort in that area, try doing this exercise for yourself! Pilates Northern Beaches can fix any discomforts after you performed backbend exercises.