Class #4853

Upper Body Challenge

50 min - Class


You will build strength and challenge your upper body with this fun Reformer workout by Carrie Pages. She progresses into the advanced exercises, pushing you to your edge with exercises that are challenging but attainable. She includes creative variations to movements like Horseback, Up Stretch, and much more.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video


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Hi everyone, welcome. Today, we are going to do an advanced upper body workout. This is my friend, Zoe, she is going to be doing the class for me today as I cue you along. Some of these exercises might be a little more on the challenging side for you. We're gonna progress into them, but I'm hoping to give you a great workout that really pushes a little bit to your edge.

You ready to get started? All right, let's go. Go ahead and lie down, Zoe, we're gonna start with footwork. She's gonna bring her feet into Pilates V stance. Now, since it's an advanced workout, let's go ahead and load those springs up today.

So go ahead and give yourself a nice challenge. We're also, because this is an upper body themed advanced workout, we're gonna really work the pressing of the hands down into the mat today. So before she does her first repetition, she's gonna press down into her hands and open up through the shoulders on the mat. Now if you can, press into your hands so much that your elbows almost lift off the mat. Just barely lock your elbows, which I know isn't a very popular thing to say, but I'm not gonna have you do it for long.

Just barely lock the elbows, feel how the triceps fire up when you do that, and then soften those elbows with like a little quarter of an inch bend of the elbow so that they aren't actually locked out. One more quick tip here, press a little more weight into your little fingers, a little less weight into your thumbs. When you're ready Zoe, your first inhale will take you up to the top, exhale brings you all the way in. Inhale, press up, two. Exhale, press into those little fingers.

So as she continues and does her 10, this is four, she's gonna press down into the little finger, let the thumb feel light and really wrap that arm around, almost like you're spiraling your arm out. Inhale, exhale it in. Inhale, exhale, last one. Inhale, exhale, that's enough. We're going right into bird feet today.

Knees and toes together, toes curl forward like a bird on a perch. Keep pressing into the hands, let that breath in. Exhale brings you in. Let the inhale take you up, that exhale helps you recruit from your core. Always with a core emphasis.

Exhale it in, inhale up, exhale it in. If you start to lose the arm feeling, go back to a slight elbow lock, but then a little teeny bend so you're not actually locked back in that joint. Out, exhale it in. Inhale, exhale in. We'll call this nine, exhale it in.

Last one 10, we'll bring it in. Walk up to those heels, Zoe. Flexing all 10 toes back as if you're gonna touch all 10 toes back to the knees, rise up to the top. Inhale gets you there. Take a moment.

Can you press into your hands a little more? Can you pull your toes back even more? Bend those knees, her answer was yes, she had more. Inhale, take it up, two. Exhale it in, inhale up three.

Really send that weight into your heels and send that energy up to your tush. That looks great, Zoe. Inhale five, exhale in. Take it up six, press those little fingers down. Seven, exhale it in.

Eight, two more. Nine. Last one is 10. Bring it in. Transition back to Pilates V stance on the toes.

With an inhale she's gonna slide up to the top. We're gonna pause right here for a moment. Think of a little more external rotation of the thigh bones, and then as odd as it sounds a little more external rotation of your upper arm, your humerus, so that you spiral those arms, press and feel the triceps all the way up high where they meet your armpit, now lower your heels, exhale, raise the heels, inhale. Only lowering the heels as low today as you can without the thighs spiraling inward. Let's keep an external rotation.

So if that means that you can't lower your heels as low as you're used to today, just play with that a little bit. Down and up, down and up, down. She's got a great shake going. (Carrie laughs) Down, and up, two more. Exhale.

Raise those heels, lower 'em down. Lift 'em up, bend the knees and bring the carriage in. Reach up for your handles. I'm gonna change Zoe's springs to just two springs for her 100 beats. With a nice energy through the arms, we're gonna prepare with an inhale, Zoe.

With an exhale, pull those handles down, tuck the chin, curl right up and send your feet out. Pump your arms, inhale. (Carrie inhales deeply) And exhale. Now I'm gonna go ahead and lower this foot bar down a little bit for her. As she holds here, she's gonna figure out where her 100 beats is today.

Every day is different. Just because the rules say the lower the legs, the harder the exercise, that's only true if it's true. So only lower your legs as low as you can and maintain that control from your center. Think about that same pressing of the little finger down, that external rotation of the upper arm. That's gorgeous, Zoe.

So that same press you had into the mat is your inspiration for your pumps here. Three more breaths, inhale. Beautiful, two more breaths. (Carrie inhales deeply) Her final breath in here, and on this last exhale, her heels might lower, they might not, she takes a moment. Pull the knees to the chest so we keep curling into it, curling into it, curling into it, arms go up and the head goes down.

She's gonna sit up and turn around, we are going through some rowings next. I'm gonna lower her spring down. Now, as always, there's options with springs. I'm taking her to the lightest spring on the Peak Pilates reformer. You need to just play with that with your reformer at home.

Some reformers have a lighter spring than the lightest on Peak, so just make sure that you're working with a spring that is manageable for you. Go ahead and reach for your handles. Now, if you know the full classical rowings from the reformer work, we're actually doing a little bit of a modification today because the whole inspiration behind this is that these exercises are gonna be doable. So Zoe, you're gonna start. I'm gonna have you scoot forward a couple of inches.

You wanna have enough mat behind you so that you have something to roll down onto. She's gonna bring her knuckles together, and as she takes her knuckles and squeezes them together, she creates a circle of energy that goes all the way around the arm, the front of the chest, through that other arm into that other knuckle, sends that together, and she feels strong already in her arms. The palms are flipped forward. With an inhale she prepares. It begins with a pelvic tilt and she exhales and rolls back.

For today the exercise is open the arms with the palms facing the wall behind you, you simply press back into those straps, float 'em forward. You press 'em back two, float 'em forward. You press it back a third time, you float it forward. Bring it back knuckles to knuckles, really send that energy across the chest and sit right back up. That's the exercise today.

So again, Zoe, with an inhale, pull those knuckles to your chest, use your exhale to roll yourself back, open your arms and you press, one. Bring it forward. The torso remains like in a teaser shape almost, as she's pressing. This is beautiful, one more, three. Bring it forward, now go knuckles to knuckles.

Pause, squeeze it, and then roll yourself right back up. She does it a third time today. Exhale rolls you back, Zoe. Open those arms, let's press, exhaling one. Float it forward, inhale, they might get smaller as you go to the third set.

(Carrie inhales deeply) Third one, press. Float it forward. Pull knuckles to knuckles, make the connection. Bring yourself up, use your core, sit tall. Take a rest.

Good. All right, for the next rowing, we're gonna start with the elbows up at a 90 degree angle. And she's gonna take a second here. I'm gonna encourage her to bring this shape a little more forward so her head's stacked right over her seat, which is really fun and challenging. From here, she takes that shape and she just leans back flat as a board.

I want you to hold there Zoe, and then just sit right back up. That's just our prep, we're gonna do that one more time. Take that back. And from your center, sit up. Good.

Third time we go back and hold. From there she's gonna take her arms and reach them kind of on a back diagonal, reaching long into the straps, bring the elbows back to 90 degrees, and then she sits back up again. That's the exercise today. We're doing that twice more. Lean back.

Reach those arms up and out. Gorgeous. Pull the elbows back in and sit up, lift from that heart. One more time, take it back, three. Reach up and out, long straps, bring the elbows in, and lift from the heart to sit tall.

Take a rest. That was lovely. You can turn around, I'll hold your handles for you. The next two exercises are sometimes more doable on a heavier spring. So I'm gonna go ahead and give her her handles, and I'm going to bring her up just a little bit on that spring tension.

She's gonna send her leg straight out in front of her, flex through the ankles and bring the hands to here. Now I call this having your suspenders in your hands. (Carrie laughs) But I'm from the south and we wear suspenders down here. So anyways, she's got her hands underneath her armpits here. Notice that the strap is going down and under, it's not over the shoulder, that's important.

From here, Zoe, with an in inhale, send your arms out, one. (Carrie inhales deeply) With an exhale, press your arms down. Create more length up through the top of the head. With an inhale, send your arms forward, up and around, and grow even taller, come back to suspenders. Inhale, send the arms out to me.

Exhale, lower the arms and try to grow taller. With an inhale, send the arms up. You shift almost a little bit forward as you circle around, and come right back to those suspenders. Once again like that, inhale, exhale, fingertips go down. Inhale, arms reach up, around.

Back to suspenders, and then hands to the mat. For this rowing four, her hands start on the mat, she's growing nice and tall. Breathe in to prepare. Chin to chest, Zoe, you're gonna dive down as if you're gonna put the top of your head down to your knees. Once she's there, she shoots the arms out long and straight.

From there, roll your spine up like you're stacking against a wall or like you're doing spine stretch in the mat work. You lean a little forward to me, circle that around, and bring the hands down. Nice control here, inhale, grow tall, chin pulls in, breathe out fully, then send those arms out long. Roll the spine up inhaling, (Carrie inhales deeply) set the shoulder in the joint and then circle the arms forward, up and around, that was beautiful. Third one, grow tall, breathe in.

Chin in, curl down. Reach those arms out long, stack the spine up, grow tall from the center, and circle out, around, and down. Good, that was lovely. For the fifth and sixth of the rowing series, we'll do hug a tree and salute kneeling today. So we'll do same spring for this.

This could get a little on the heavy side, but we're gonna let her work through it. And then the arms will just come out. Later in the workout, we're gonna refer back to this position. What I want you to be really aware of here is a pressing of your feet into those shoulder blocks, and you see what Zoe's doing, she's doing what I call leaning into the wind. So she's leaning forward as if some wind came in front of her and held her right up.

Now in this position, close your hands in front of you, Zoe, and I want you to take a second with the hands in front of you, your tension's as heavy as it's gonna get here. So you've got a little more security. Push with your feet more fine, more butt, and then open those arms. This is gonna come in handy later in the workout so don't forget how this feels. Inhale, reach two, exhale strong through the center as you open.

Again, inhale reaching three, exhale. We're gonna bring that gaze up just a little Zoe, look right out in front of you. Inhale four, exhale you open. Inhale, reach five, exhale open. Just one more, inhale six, exhale open.

Now, she's gonna bring her hands to salute start position. We're actually gonna be doing shave the head, which is a slight variation on salute. First one, just push up Zoe, hold there. Now she's gonna take these arms, and she's gonna shift them back behind her two or three inches. That is start and stop now on her shave the head.

She takes that and brings hands back to the back of the head and it goes upward, not so much forward, that's a challenge. She bends again, exhaling, and then inhale she reaches up. Now she's gonna make sure she still has those feet, has her seat working hard. That's three, extend it up. And four, beautiful.

Extend it up. On these last two I want you to try to yearn for your elbows to go more east and west. Yes, Zoe, keep 'em east and west, that's the hard part. One more time. So we're going wide with the elbow and high with the hands.

Yes, hold right there, keep that butt, memorize how that feels, and circle your arms around and rest. That was stunning work. Go ahead and hook the straps on the poles. We're going into horseback next, so I'm gonna get the box, and we're gonna put it on long ways. Now again, since the inspiration behind this workout is doable advanced exercises, I have a fun variation on this horseback.

We're gonna go on one yellow or one medium spring on the equipment, and Zoe, you're gonna mount that horse. (Carrie laughs) So she's just gonna crawl on top here. And you have a couple of options on this. So right now, she has her toes pointed and pressed forward, sometimes that gives people foot cramps. So she's gonna demonstrate curling her toes.

This is an option too. I find that if you don't get foot cramps, the feet pointed is better because you're less likely to just stand up on your legs, and you're more likely to power from your inner thighs. Don't get foot cramps though, do what you need to get the most out of this. So she's gonna position her feet like that, and then she's gonna grab these straps for me. All right.

So one of the really important things to notice is her knees are really forward to the front corners of the box, they're not spread out wide like a butterfly position. You're really almost trying to narrow knees as much as you possibly could on this box. So I think about squeezing my calves. So Zoe, I just want you to sit right there and take a breath in, and then squish your calf muscles into the sides of the box a little bit. Now that she's got that, we're gonna get into the position of the spine.

So breathe in to prepare. I'm just gonna have you then sucker punch to the belly and you're gonna pull back and find that little tucky butt. Now release a little out of that, just relax a little with an inhale. Now with the exhale, combine the calf squeeze and the sucker punch, and now press your hands forward to me as you hover off that box, gorgeous. You're a little too close to me, can you go back to the wall behind you?

Put your fingertips on my fingertips and tuck that tail under more. That's what I want. That's optimal position, memorize it, sit down, take a rest, bend your elbows. Perfect, good. So you found that shape.

It's not up, it's back with the spine, forward with the arms. So prepare with an inhale, exhale, send those arms to me, send the waistline back, squish those calves into the box. Bend the elbows, sit right back down. On this third one we'll add arm lower lift. Exhale, send your arms out to me.

Zoe from there, lower your hands with an inhale. (Carrie inhales deeply) Think more of a sucker punch to the tummy, exhale press those arms up. Again, inhale the hands come down, exhale, send those hands up. One more time, inhale, the hands down, exhale, send those hands up, hover hold one more, core two, hold three, sit down, take a rest. (Carrie inhales deeply) That was lovely.

There's so much going on there. So we're just gonna do the arm lower lift part just once again so it'll be three arm lower lifts. Now that you know what to expect, you're gonna get even more out of it, it's gonna feel even better, yeah. Okay, so inhale to prepare. With your exhale, send your hands to me.

Ribs back, waist back, tail under, I like that shape better already, lower your arms, inhale. Now just refine it, how can you work deeper? Lower the arms, inhale. Exhale. Ask that body, how can I get deeper?

One more time, inhale. Exhale, reach those hands, hover hold one, pull the waist, two, tip the tail, three, sit down, take a rest. That was lovely. That's all we're doing on the box today. I'm gonna take those straps for miss Zoe, she's gonna stand up on the floor.

We'll get rid of the box, and we're gonna go through long stretches next. I always use a sticky pad for long stretches on the headrest or for the long stretch, so if you've got one handy, grab that. Foot bar comes all the way up. And today, we're gonna play with this exercise. So we are gonna do long stretch two different ways.

The first way is gonna be with a heavier spring, and the second way is gonna be with a lighter spring. So, I'm starting her on two medium springs, two yellows. And Zoe, you can come around this way. You're gonna step up onto the carriage, right hand, left foot, and then without the knees touching that mat, she goes left hand, right foot, boom, she's there. Now this spring might surprise you a little bit, Zoe.

It is slightly heavy. I'm gonna have her lift those hips a half an inch. Now from there, she's gonna send the carriage back with this strong upper body. Inhale, exhale, and she comes forward. So keeping in mind that we're gonna do a variation on a light spring, going back, this heavy spring variation is meant for more upper body work, that's what I'm going for.

Exhale, she's coming forward. She's doing five of these. Inhale back, exhale, she floats forward. Zoe, I want you to try to go further on these last two. Don't worry if the shoulders creep up a little.

That was gorgeous. Exhale, come forward. Permission to move the shoulders on this one. Go back again, inhale, take it back. Gorgeous, girl.

Exhale, you come forward. Now you're gonna step one foot to the floor, coming off similarly to the way you got on, and she takes a moment. I'm gonna let her reach down and change her own spring, she's taking one of those yellows off. So now she's down to just one spring, one medium, and now it's gonna feel like it's on ice, and that she's gonna have to recruit from her middle. So the arm work won't be as challenging, but it's gonna be some good work in the center.

Stepping up, right hand, left foot, left hand, right foot. She's there, I'm gonna check her out, I think that looked great. She takes it back, nice. Breath in moves you back, Zoe. And that exhale brings you forward.

So guess what? Permission to not move as far. As she goes back with this inhale, she doesn't wanna go as far 'cause she could really lose it. Keep it petite, it could almost feel like a pulse in a way. Exhale come forward.

If this is too challenging for you, throw a half spring on, that's absolutely fine. One more today makes five. She's gonna give me a little hover one, a little hover two, three. She's gonna lower those knees down to the mat and rest right there. That was lovely, Zoe.

We're gonna add a half spring now. So the blue spring will go on. So we have a yellow and a blue, or a medium and a light spring. Here's where we're gonna think back to that hug a tree exercise from earlier. So open your feet up to the shoulder rest, Zoe.

So this is called down stretch. What I want you to actually do is hold your arms out like you just did hug a tree. Yeah. And it's harder because there's nothing in your hands. You can lean a lot more forward on hug a tree, but she's just gonna lean a little bit there.

Can you feel that little butt activate? Yeah. (Carrie giggles) Yeah, guess she's not confused. So now what I want you to think of is the muscles that are in the backs of your knees, could you lift those muscles up to your butt? Yes.

Now keep that alive. Put your hands down on your foot bar, go ahead and rest into the heel of the hand. So yeah, just kinda wiggle forward. So the idea here is that we're doing a kneeling swan. So we want a little bit an arch right where her bra meets her back, notice her gaze floated up right as she did that.

And I want that butt alive. There's only three dynamic movements, with an inhale she slides back and powers from her seat, exhale, she brings herself up. Inhale, take it back. Think up Zoe, rather than forward, up like you're going up and behind yourself. Yes, inhale back three.

Exhale, she's gonna pause right here for some added sass, walk up to your fingertips. Good. Now take one arm, reach it up. I want you to hold that arm there. Can you move it back an inch?

Yes. Take the other arm hover and hold for one, use that seat, two, go a little deeper into your extension, three, circle those arms around. You can sit back and rest letting that head hang. Gosh, that shouldn't be that hard, should it? (Carrie laughs) So if you can really find that glute work there, you can really feel that whole body going.

We're gonna rise up now for up stretch. So we're gonna stay on the same springs, this is a medium and a light spring. For the up stretch, this takes four steps. First step is roll that carriage back step one. With an exhale, she lowers her hips down, step two.

With an inhale, she's coming over that bar, step three. Now chin pulls into chest and she curls up trying to keep the carriage closed against that stopper as tight as she can. Carriage rolls back again. Inhale, step one. Exhale, those hips come down, step two.

Can you use your butt like you used it on your down stretch? Chin in, curl yourself up, keep a little bit of that butt work. We're gonna do that again. Inhale, the carriage goes back. Now exhale, you gotta find your hips 'cause we're gonna do up down combo in a second.

Come forward, use that glute connection. Chin comes in, you curl right up. Going into up down combo. She takes the carriage back, step one. If you've never done this, you might wanna watch it first.

Exhale, her hips come down. Now she's gonna find that hamstring glute work and she's gonna come forward and do a mini swan, the carriage will not touch the stopper. Then from there, she pushes back keep the chin up for just a second, now draw the chin in Zoe, and curl it up. That was beautiful. Her temptation was to drop the head to move the carriage, she's gonna use her arms to move the carriage this time.

Carriage back, one, hips down step two. Now she comes through like a swan, she will not hit the stopper. Now to go back, she keeps her chin up, but presses with her arms, then she tucks her chin curls and pulls herself up, up, up to the stopper, last and best. Inhale, carriage goes back, exhale, hips come down. It's a little swan-like sensation as she comes forward, then from her arms, power back.

Beautiful Zoe, draw that chin in, curl yourself up, up and up. Step forward. She's gonna get ready for long back stretch by sitting on that bar and turning around. Very nice. All right, so for long back stretch.

So for this exercise, there's a lot going on and I like to break it down a little bit to build the strength to be able to do the full expression of the exercise. So for today, we're first just gonna do some tricep dips sitting on this moving shaky carriage and with the hands on the bar. The position of the hands is to have the fingertips turn forward. This is very counterintuitive for a lot of people. If you're very scared, feel free to wrap your thumb around, but try if you can to keep your thumbs on the same side as your fingers.

She's gonna take her feet and just walk 'em out to these shoulder blocks. So, she'll just go out, she's pretty petite, so she's just gonna go to her little toes here. What I'm gonna look for is that she's relatively neutral with her spine, which she is. You don't wanna be in a diagonal tucky butt leaning back, you wanna be stuck straight up and down. Bend your elbow, Zoe, just do a tricep dip and then push yourself right back up.

If the carriage moves a little, that's okay. Bend the elbows down, and push yourself up. Once again, bend, push yourself up, take a seat on the bar. So, if the next part of this exercise is to challenging for you, my suggestion is to continue to build strength by just doing those tricep dips, but we're gonna try to add the actual full movement. So, here we go, walk the feet out.

She finds her neutral, the exercise begins with the dip down. She bends with an inhale. Now power from the core, squeeze the seat, roll that carriage out. Try to stay out there, lift your hips up, then roll it right back in. Trick here, find neutral, undo that tucky butt.

Go again, bend the elbows down. Squeeze and tuck it out. Reach the arm straight, lift the hips up, yes. Bring it back, undo, find that neutral. Gorgeous, Zoe.

Again, bend the elbows down. Squeeze and tuck it out, arms straight, lift up, roll it back. Undo, find neutral, sit on your bar, take a rest. She was scared I wasn't gonna give her that rest. So as you're building strength, this does have two directions, all right?

So we're gonna do the second direction in just a moment, but give yourself the time and the patience to not only build the strength through the upper body, but the wrists get really fatigued on this. So, be patient with yourself as you're learning this, let's go ahead and add the reverse to it. So she'll walk those feet out. All right, she finds her neutral to begin with, prepare with an inhale. Now she's gonna tuck and push that carriage out.

The hips go down, arms stay straight for a moment, now bend those elbows and then press yourself up. Dynamic exhale from the belly. Gorgeous, Zoe. Take it down, come back, push it up. Once again, exhale, take it out, inhale down, exhale, bring it back and press it up.

Sit on that bar, take a rest. Beautiful. We're going into chest expansion next. So we're going to, you can step off onto the floor, Zoe. I'll have her change that spring.

We're just gonna go to a light spring today. You, if you like to work those triceps and work on a heavier spring, feel free to heavy it up, I'm taking Zoe to our light spring though. She's gonna go to a kneeling position. There are lots of variations on this exercise today. The variation I wanna teach is wrapping the toes over the edge of the mat.

Let's take the feet so that there's some separation between the feet, knees, toes in alignment with knees. And what I also want you to think about here is a little bit of that hug a tree glute hamstring work that we found. So she's gonna wrap her toes against the edge of the carriage to feel that fire up the backs of the legs. Oh, they look really far away, don't they, Zoe? Squat down, get 'em.

(Carrie laughs) Okay. So from here, the palms are facing in towards each other. Here we go, thinking back to the start of class, remember how we pressed the hands and externally rotated the upper arm? That's what I want here. Palms are facing in then.

So the palms facing in, can you externally rotate the upper arm a little bit more? And then let's all just exhale sternum, ribs, low belly, and just set that body up. Go ahead and do your first pole, Zoe, reach and just hold there. Stabilize your arms and carriage, look over your right shoulder, look center, look over your left shoulder. Look center, float those arms forward.

The trick here is the stabilization. So she pulls again and then it goes silent. As she looks left, center it's still silent, right, center, and then she floats forward with some movement. Again, inhale pull. It's almost like those hands hit a wall, look right, center, left, center, float the arms forward.

And again, inhale, pull pause, looking left. She's got a really good range here. If you don't have this big of a range at home, no worries. What I want you to try to do is maintain this rotation of the upper arm with the palms facing in. One more full set to Zoe, pull, looking right, beautiful, left.

Good, keep those legs alive, wrap the thighs. Inhale, pull, steady that carriage, left, center, right, center. Float the arms forward, hook that strap in your left hand on the pole, you're gonna turn facing the side for kneeling side arms. Now for this exercise, again, if you're someone who likes to heavy up that spring, feel free to go heavy, just make sure it is a doable spring. We're pulling up and across.

She's gonna get there, and today we're gonna do a little hold or a little pause. She's gonna try not to let the strap touch her body. Press it forward slightly. Now make the arm longer like you're gonna put your hand in my hand. Oh, that was a good way to do it.

(Carrie laughs) Then you're gonna bend the arm and come right back to start. It was very tricky, she goes again, inhale, pulls. She'll keep a fist this time and try to put her hand in my hand, she did it and bring it back. That really helps to get momentum out of this exercise and to really fine tune it. Play with this and bring it across.

For the next one, just those three. We switch hands, the left hand goes in the strap and that elbow squeezes inward. Inhale, she raises the hand up. The shoulder's gonna creep up, don't try to keep it down, then come down with elbow and go ahead and reset the shoulder there. Go up two, (Carrie inhales deeply) exhale, pull that elbow down.

Inhale up, three, exhale, pull that elbow down. Walk the knees away a little bit, four, overhead. So she's gonna take her right hand into the strap and bend over her left hand comes down. Now a couple of fun cues here. She's gonna send so much energy down into this heel of her hand that this waistline is gonna suck right up into her side, so somehow there's like an oblique side ups feeling going on, can you feel that, Zoe?

If you can't feel it, lighten your left knee a little bit, like you're just gonna lighten that left knee slightly. Now squeeze your right cheek forward another inch. Good. And this elbow is going to yearn to the ceiling above you. With an inhale, she takes knuckles to the sky, then bends.

So careful with that strap crossing your face. I want knuckles to go to the sky and notice that strap stays right here above her head. She's doing this very well. Third and last inhale, exhale she bends. She's gonna come right up, strap goes in the left hand, and with an inhale, fingertips meet above the head.

As you exhale and open your arms, draw your sides in like an hour glass shape, connect to your core. Inhale, reach those hands up two. Spring feels heavier when you do that, doesn't it? (Carrie laughs) One more time. Inhale up three, and exhale open.

Three repetitions of each one is enough for me, hook that strap, you'll turn. All right, so we'll take that little moment on this one, she's gonna set those shoulders squared off. Let's lean a little forward with the upper body, gorgeous, and now inhale pull up and across and she holds. She's gonna stay there without the straps touching her body, try to reach to my hand, bring that strap across. So just a little bit of a hover makes the biggest difference.

Get there, hold, how much longer can you your spring beneath you? Then bend that arm, return to start. Again, inhale pull three and bend that arm across. Switching hands, right hand in the strap, the elbow squeezing inward and she's going straight up. Inhale one, exhale she brings that elbow in to come down.

Inhale two. Don't be afraid to let the shoulder creep up at the high point, but then as you bend, bring that elbow down. Beautiful, Zoe. Walk the knees away a few inches from the shoulder rest. And then again, the setup's important here.

She grabs the strap, that's fine. Go up and over, perfect, the hand comes down. Now before she does her first repetition, she's gonna send lots of energy down into the hand, she's gonna pull this bottom waistline up, send the thighs forward just a little bit, and then if she still doesn't feel this right saddle connection, lighten that right knee the subtlest bit. With an inhale, extend your arm up towards the ceiling, one, exhale, bend that elbow. Inhale, pull it up, two, exhale bend.

Think extend up from the elbow not across the body, that's it, Zoe, gorgeous and bend. She'll come on up switching hands, good. Shift a little weight to the front of the knees, just a little lean. Yeah, there's that booty. Now go inhale up and think the sides draw in like an hourglass shape.

Inhale reach up two, (Carrie inhales deeply) exhale shoulders anchor down. Inhale up three, exhale, those arms open. I'll hold this strap for you while you turn and face out, arm circles and bicep curls are next. And guess what? We get to return to some of that glute work, even though we're in an upper body focused workout.

So, all you're gonna do is send those feet into the shoulder blocks. Again, think about those muscles in the back of the knee as if they could lift up and just come right up to your cheeks, and we're gonna gonna start with arm circles. So, arms will scoop forward. Now as you circle your arms around, keep your fingertips in your peripheral vision. So don't let the fingertips get too far behind you.

It all stays relatively in front of the body. Inhale, scoop it up two. Gorgeous, exhale around. That's it, keep that gaze forward and out a little. How much more energy through the feet can you get?

Three, exhale, she brings that around. Now bring your arms straight in front of your shoulders, pause for a moment, recruit more from your core, reverse three times. Arms go down with an inhale. Now press forward to me as you go up. Again, these circles happen right in front of you.

You should should see your fingertips out of the corners of your eyes. Up (Carrie inhales deeply) and bring that down, beautiful. And again, inhale takes that up, exhale brings that down. For bicep curls, we're gonna take a moment here. And she's gonna make sure that there's little to no movement all the way down that upper arm.

She's gonna bend at the elbow, keeping the elbow glued into her sides and then extend the arms straight. I usually only pull about two thirds of the way on this, because if I pull too high, I kind of lose that bicep. Again, pull three, exhale you lower. Pull four, lower and hold. Let's take a moment, let's see if we can make this feel a little heavier.

Press your hands forward a half an inch more. Now do it right there, pull forward and up. Think send the fingertips forward and away. Do it again like that. Pull forward and up and send those fingertips forward and away and rest.

Gorgeous job. Sit back on the heels, hook the straps on the poles. All right, we're gonna go into a nice mermaid now, just do a good stretch. We'll go to a medium spring, I'm going to add yellow. She's gonna stack her shins and bring those feet right against that back shoulder block.

Bring your right hand onto the very center of your bar. Nice, Zoe. Today let's reach the arm out, inhale, with an exhale, she's gonna bend over to that bar. With an inhale she'll calm on up. Good.

Now take that arm, Zoe, reach it out. Now, see if you can lift and just hover for a moment with the carriage in on the stopper, and now reach down grab that shoulder block. Sorry, come this way and bend to me, good. So we're gonna do these little fancy hovers I like to do. She'll come up, she's gonna do a little mermaid in the middle.

That hand then comes down to the headrest or the foot bar rather and her arm goes up and she bends over to the side. Good. And she'll come up, good. (Carrie laughs) Take a moment see if you can find a hover, reach for that shoulder rest and take it over to the side. Coming up again, take a little hover there, hand comes down, arm comes up and you bend over to the side.

Inhale you come up, to finish it out she's gonna go hand to that shoulder block and bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, bend, and let's do a little rotation with that, Zoe, stretch forward, bringing the hand down, just place one hand on top of the other and give yourself a little pull there, then turn back to face the side of the room and bring yourself all the way up. And you can turn around to do the other side. Nice job. All right, so just holding there. Yeah, kind of hold for a second, let the carriage roll all the way into the stopper just to kind of prepare you for what's coming.

And then that arm can come up and you bend over. Good. Then bring yourself up, good. That hand's gonna come down. Yes, hover and then reach over.

And then you'll come up find that little moment in the middle, then the hand touches the bar and you take it over to the side. You come up, the arm reaches down and then you try to find a little moment, reach for the shoulder block or the pole and side bend over. Beautiful. Bring yourself up a little moment and take it over. Gorgeous.

Bring yourself up, find your moment, boom, and you reach and you take it over. And four, the nice little big stretch here, just rotate down. You can simply bring one hand over the other, give yourself a little pull and then you can just float out of that. Ah, lovely. The next exercise we'll do is bottom lift with a big emphasis on the arms.

So the spring tension, Zoe, I'll let you change. We're gonna go for two mediums and a heavy spring on this exercise today. Feel free to load those springs up nice and heavy if you'd like, I like to keep it a wee bit light. So on your back again, two mediums and one heavy spring. So for the bottom lift, we're going feet out to the corners of the bar.

And she is first just going to lay there and hug that bar between the feet as if it's a magic circle and as it could actually move. So she gives it a little squeeze, I'm gonna lower that headrest for you real quick, babe. Okay, there we go, sorry. Headrest down. And as she hugs the bar, like it's a magic circle, she's gonna yearn for those knees to go east and west as wide as they'll go.

Then from here, she's gonna press into her arms more than she maybe ever has. The little fingers yearning down, the thumb is light and that arm pressure today is going to help give her more strength in her bottom lift. Breathe in to prepare Zoe. With your exhale, send your belly to your back, tuck your tail. This is a really big tucky butt or posterior pelvic tilt.

From here she's gonna pause, and I'm gonna say to keep the back bra line down on that mat and see how many bones of the spine we can get up while keeping that back bra line down. This is our ultimate stop and start, now she begins the exercise as if that wasn't hard enough. Slide back with an inhale stretch the knee straight. We're gonna pause right here. She's gonna press into those hands and as she exhales to come in that pressure into the arms is going to help her pull her belly, tuck her tail and heavy her back ribs down.

Inhale she slides it back again hugging that bar between the feet, exhale she comes in, knees open east and west, and again, inhale takes you back three. Exhale brings you in, strong connection through the middle, knees open, let's pause and then take it back. Careful not to let that momentum take over on this exhale. That's why I like that medium spring, 'cause it's just not so much either direction. Again, inhale takes you back, squeeze through the glutes and then exhale, deepen through the core press into those arms hold for three, two, one, let's do two more.

Inhale take it back. See if you can wrap the outside edge of that foot around the bar a little more Zoe, lighten your arch. Hold two, three, last and best inhale takes her back, very good. Outside edge of the foot wraps, arches lifted, abs are pulled, now from here permission to lift more of your back, go ahead and lift your butt higher and lift a little more and lift a little more and roll all the way down to the mat. So we hug those knees into your chest and take a little moment.

The next exercise we're gonna do is the star. We're gonna do a prep for star standing using the foot bar actually. So we're gonna prep it there and then we will actually do it on the reformer. So stand up for me. And I put this exercise, I'll go ahead and fix this spring, but it's gonna be ultimately when we come to the reformer, it'll be a medium spring.

So what I like to do with this foot bar is lock it into place. So on the peak equipment, we have to lower it a little bit to get it locked, any way that you can lock your bar in place is fine. And I think it was an interesting decision to decide where to put this exercise in this series of classes. I put it in the upper body part because you really have to rely on this arm to hold you up the arm, the shoulder, everything, but what will surprise you is how much your butt and your sides are gonna work. So it really could have gone into really any of the workouts.

So Zoe, I just wanted Zoe to have the joy of doing it too. So she's going to stand on her hand basically, she's gonna bring her hand onto the center of this foot bar and then she'll do to stack her feet so that she's in a diagonal position here. And I'm gonna ask Zoe to walk her feet one more inch away, just the littlest wiggle there, good. When you're standing on that, so she's got her left arm on the bar, she's got her left foot as the bottom leg. That left foot needs to be alive, that is going to be become very important when we get up here on this carriage, it cannot be flopped and hanging into the ankle.

So send energy into that outer edge of blade of the foot, and now from here, Zoe, just float your arm out a little bit, exactly. From here, she's gonna start to send the energy from the side of this foot up into the side of her butt and up into her obliques. She lifted just a little bit, but more than anything, she brought more life to that body. The other thing that, and she's dying here, I'm talking on purpose so you should be at home holding this position. The other thing is this elbow should not be locked.

It's gotta have a little whisper of a bend so that the biceps, the triceps, the shoulder, all the way down into this wrist and hand are alive. I'm gonna let her take a quick break, and I hope that you felt that. (Carrie laughs) So just that alone is hard. Now when you bring that position up onto this rolling carriage, it's gonna be even harder so here's how we program the exercise to eventually have success on the carriage. We're gonna pick it up a little bit now, she's gonna walk that hand out, stack her feet again.

All right, before we start to move anything, we're just going to send that outer edge blade of the foot into the mat that's gonna activate that side butt and that left side body. So we float your arm out again. Now all we'll do is take that right leg with a flexed ankle, lift the foot up one, she's gonna press it right back down. She's gonna lift it up again two, press it back down. As that leg goes up, this bottom side hind knee is working.

Lift it up, three, she takes it down. We're gonna do that five times, four. Take it down, check in with the elbow, five, take it down. Hold there, feel strong here. What's it gonna feel like when you get on in this rolling carriage?

Relax. Good, all right. So you gotta think about what you're gonna do once you get up here, 'cause it's really scary when you feel like you're on ice. Turn and do the other side. All right, so she'll just stack those feet, good.

And we're just gonna hold here. First thing we're gonna do is check in with that bottom foot let's stack your outer foot a little bit, Zoe. Yes, so it's right on top that just gets you prepared a little bit better for being up here. Feel that bottom cheek activate, the waistline and the ribs activate, and now we're gonna focus on how much can you wrap your fingers? Don't sag into the wrist, think pull the muscles up out of the wrist a little.

Soften the elbow, the tensest bit, biceps, triceps, deltoids, everything is alive, and now just reach the arm out and hold for three, hold for two, hold for one, take a little rest, okay. So you're gonna access that strength as soon as you can, and then we'll add your leg lifts. So here we go, she walks her feet out. She'll float that arm out, take a moment, let me send those cubes to you. Yes, see she had that elbow locked and she fixed it.

So fixing that elbow, that side butt, side hind knee leg goes, press it out and bring it down. Imagine you're moving through peanut butter, press out against some resistance and bring that in. And three, bring it down, again four, bring it down. Last one is five, bring it down and rest, Zoe. Very good.

All right, so I'm just gonna demonstrate quickly the exercise with the bar. Same thing, the hand's gonna go on this center of the bar, the bottom foot, remember what I said about the blade of that foot. Don't sag into the ankle, hold it strong. You have to push the carriage out a little bit, it can't stay on the stopper to get into the position. So I've rolled the carriage out about three or four inches and then I've gotta rely on the strong arm, and I just come up and I stack.

So from here we can go out a little and then come in, we can go out and come in. Notice the range is not huge. Then I can add a leg lift out and I come in, out and I come in. You'll step back to come off, okay? So here we go.

Brings her foot to it. Yep, she's rolled that carriage out. She's got a good grip, set that wrist, elbow, shoulder up for success and step on up. Sometimes it takes a second, be patient with yourself. From here, three times, taking it outward a little, bringing it in, but not to the stopper, you'll never hit the stopper.

Go out two. Can you give me more bottom leg, bottom waistline, that's gonna give you the power. One more, three, and in. Now option to lift the leg, it might work on one leg, it might not on the other. We go one, that's it, bring it back in, you've got it, Zoe.

You lift it two, you bring it in. One more time, if you can skip it as needed, three. You bring it in, you step that foot back and you come down. That was gorgeous. So here's the thing with exercises like this, one side's always stronger than the other no matter how hard we try to feel symmetrical.

So we may have just found it all here and might be harder to find on the other side, so let's see what happens. Bring yourself around and you just have to be patient with yourself. We don't get frustrated, we just look for goals. Can we get stronger? There we go.

Set that arm up for success from the wrist to the elbow and you go. Inhale it out a little, exhale it in. Inhale it out, bottom hip. Yep, one more. Keep that bottom waist and bottom hip involved.

Now the leg might lift, it might not. We go out, gorgeous Zoe, and then you come in. It's gorgeous. Maybe we do three, maybe we don't. Two, she brings it in, keep the ankle involved.

Last one, three, she brings it in, she steps back and relaxes. So that was your upper body workout for today. Obviously it's Pilates, we worked the whole body, you can't just isolate one thing. So I hope you enjoyed though, the upper body focus with all the other fun little cues thrown in there, you guys have a great day and I'll see you next time.

Reformer Workouts: Breakthrough to Advanced Reformer


Thanks Carrie. Your cues were excellent! 👍
1 person likes this.
excellent explanation of each exercise !
1 person likes this.
Loved it, Carrie! Great workout! Can't wait for the next class!!!
1 person likes this.
Carrie, you are amazing!! Your cues are everything !! Thank you for sharing your expertise !!
1 person likes this.
Carrie, you are amazing!! Your cues are everything !! Thank you for sharing your expertise !!
Kim W
1 person likes this.
So happy to see you back on PA!! You've been missed. :)
Kim W
1 person likes this.
I tried teaching Horseback for the first time in LOOONG time the other day and just gave up. Like you say, there's a lot going on there!
1 person likes this.
Great class Carrie, thank you- horseback, side arm work transitions, terrific cues and breakdowns- all of it ❤️
Pure Gold. My body and mind were reminded how strong they can be. Thank you Carrie! 
1 person likes this.
Wonderful class Carrie, loved the cues!  I found new muscles working in these exercises and the horseback breakdown was great!
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