Class #5457

Deep Arm & Back Connection

30 min - Class


Join Lesley Logan in this quick 30-minute Reformer flow where you will build a deeper connection between your arms, back, and core. This class targets the upper body with carefully selected exercises designed to enhance your core strength and stability. By improving your endurance and strength, you'll leave this class feeling stronger and more connected in your body!

If you want to learn tools to help you find a better arm/back connection, watch Lesley's tutorial.
What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box, Hand Weights

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi. I'm Wesa Logan. And today, we're doing a 30 minute intermediate to advanced reformer workout focusing on our It's a connection that we need not only to kick more to our center, but also to not feel things on the wrist. You'll need some light weights for the very beginning, and you may wanna use them throughout the workout up to you. Let's get started. Alright. So what you'll want to do is grab your long box. And we're gonna do this little warm up because it is one of the best ways to connect your arms to your back, and you can do this on your own before any workout that you do.

So you'll put your long box on the reformer you're, it's gonna be a little weird. You're actually not gonna put in the center. You're gonna put it towards the edge of the carriage. You'll get your footbar out of the way Springs can be 2 to 4 just for stability. You just need one pound, and you can either face the well.

I like to face the foot bar. So we'll lie onto our stomach with our shoulders at the edge of the box, and you'll put the weight in the arm that is at the side of the box. So you'll have lots of room. This hand that's free is just gonna go on the carriage just to keep you from twisting and turning. Spend your inner thighs up and reach your pubic bone towards the box.

Your back's nice and long. And then you take the arm, You reach it in front of you just up towards your ear, feeling your shoulder drop down your back, and then you lower the arm straight down. And, again, you reach it up, hold it for a beat. We're not throwing it up there, swinging it, and lower it down. We'll do 3 more, reach it up, hold it there and lower. You'll start to feel your upper back warm up a lot.

And if you're like, But, Leslie, I feel my hamstrings too. Good job. We like to work our whole body here. One more. On this version, and then we've got another way to go.

We're gonna take our arm back to our hip. Notice that your palm isn't flipping up or down and needs to be facing the side of your body and then lower it back down. So we start from floor to our hip, and then lower. 3 more. When it's back there, reach it back, feel your future chest expansion, your future 100, and then lower. Last one.

Pulled it there. And down. Now we're gonna go out to the side. So you'll pull your shoulder on your back. Your arm will go out to the side. You'll feel a shake if you're me, and you'll lower it down.

And then again, out to the side, this is where my body likes to lean and twist, and I've gotta work my legs together. And that free arm just to keep me from twisting. Last two. And then we'll do one more. Hold it there.

Still that shoulder on your back out of your ear. And then lower it down. Now we bend the elbow up to the sky and then push it back down. So elbow up kinda like you're doing a push up. If all push ups felt like this, I do them all day, and again, up.

This is also one where the shoulder will wanna round forward. So you have to pull the shoulder away from the floor as you pull the elbow up as well if it's your tendency. It's mine. So no to self. One more time. Awesome. Let's step off to the side. Shake it out and move your box.

To the other side of your carriage, and you get to do the other side. Lie onto your stomach. What you might notice is that you have one side that is stronger than the other. That gives you full permission to repeat that side another time at the end of the workout. So the hand places down in a carriage next to your box spin those inner thighs up, reach your tailbone long, and then the arm goes forward, hold it there, and lower it down.

We tend to go a little faster on our second side of exercises, full permission to take your time, reach that arm up, hold it there, feel your shoulder blade, come down your back, and lower. And we're down as a strong word. It's sort of like It's turning, like a rotation. So it's not that we're trying to just shove our shoulders out of our ears all the time. We want shoulder blade to rotate onto the back. You'll feel all the muscles all the way down.

Your lats into your lower waist And then you're gonna take the arm back, hold it back there, reach it away from you, and lower down. When we do pull straps later in this workout, we tend to bend the wrist or bend the elbow. You get to practice your pull straps right here with a straight wrist. A straight elbow and your shoulders on your back. One more.

And then we'll take the arm out to the side. This is my absolute favorite. And, yes, I'm kidding. I it's not. We always we don't like what we need. Right? Lower it down, out to the side, 5 of these, and then we get to go into our row.

So elbow up, shoulder, up as well. So not up into your ear, but up away from the floor. 3 more. And if your hamstrings are burning like mine, good job. We get to work our whole body even when we focus on our arm back connection. We have one more.

And then go ahead and set your weights down, get them out of the way, and if you're not gonna use them or keep them away from stepping on them. And then you need to put your box away And now we get to take our nice warm upper back with us into our workout. So foot bar up for footwork, I do 3 to 4 heavy springs. If you're working with weighted springs, choose the 3 to 4 heaviest for yourself that work with your body. Take the balls of your feet on the foot bar, arms along by your side. Just take a moment before you press out to notice how warm your upper back feels and how connected.

Hopefully, it's easier to connect even to your abdominals here as you press out and in. With those heels nice and high and together, 10 footwork on the toes, and then we'll move on to our arches. So it's easy for us to think about footwork being a leg exercise. But I want you to focus on your arms pressing into the carriage as if they were pulling up by your waist like we just did in our warm up. And then come all the way in, lift both feet up at the same time to land onto your arches, hug those legs together, and press out and in. Focus on the thigh bones moving away from your center, not necessarily the knees getting straight.

And then after 2 more of these, you'll go onto your heels. With both heels on the foot bar squeezing legs together, press out ten times. If you feel your shoulders pushing into your shoulder rest, they are. That's a that's a really good sign that they are. So you wanna breathe into your low ribs in the back so that your upper back can anchor you to the carriage. It'll keep you from sliding around.

Come all the way in and come back to the footwork on your toes. Press out and stay out for tendon stretch. Squeeze the heels together as they lower and up. And we're going as low as we can keep those heels together. And, I know it's not it's called tendon stretch, and it doesn't really satisfy the stretch, but that's kind of every plies exercise. The name is not really the representation of what we're doing. So you're just squeezing those legs together.

Heels up and down. Take one more deep breath in and come all the way in. Get rid of your foot bar. So if you can do it with your feet, please do. If not, tees her up, Drop the foot bar off, put your legs out on the foot bar, and then grab your handles. So with your hands into the handles, take a look for a second.

Are you turning your hands in different directions? They should be palms facing forward, wrist, straight, fingers together, not like pitch forks. Right? Squeeze them. And then with the pinky side of the hand into the handle, press into your handle, lift your head, chest, and legs, and pump your arms for your hundred here. Inhale for 5, exhale for 5. 9 more pumps.

Well, 9 more breaths, I should say. You'll be doing 90 more pumps, but as you pump these arms, it's that same reach we did with the weight. You should feel this way in your low ribs all the way down, feeling your shoulders on your back. Each pump is just helping you connect more to your own back connection. And something I can look at is if my carriage is moving, if my carriage sort of bounces, it sort of tells me that I'm letting my shoulders disconnect Reaching to your handles from your wide upper back.

Breathe into those low ribs so you're taking space to not sliding on your carriage. And because I'm the best counter to 100, we're gonna say that's 10 breaths. And lower our legs and lift our arms. So take the handles in one hand, tees are on up to the side, drop yourself off to spring. So you have 2 heavy springs on, or if you wanna do a medium and a heavy, you don't want it to be so easy that you're shoving the carriage around. You do want it to be tricky to challenge you in a way. Right? You want that resistance to feel.

So we're doing coordination. Bring your knees into your chest heels. The other toes apart. Pinky side of the hand into the handle. Lift your head and chest up.

And just for fun, keep the knees in. Press the arms towards straight and bend. So we've done the little row in our prep. The elbows are trying to push through the carriage just like they were trying to lift up high, and you're actually trying to get your shoulders wide even the whole upper arm bone trying to press into the carriage. Do one more. Okay.

Permission to let your head come down for a moment or do full coordination a second. If that was tricky to keep your elbows in though, just keep playing with that. Lift the head and chest back up full coordination. Press your arms and legs to straight. Open the legs, close, bend the knees, and then the elbows.

And now focus only on what those arms are doing. Do you feel a chest expansion happening? That's the goal. You're just trying to get the whole upper arm bone into the carriage easier said than done. It might not actually happen, but that a goal is worth it because you'll get more upper back connections there. Last time, Awesome. Okay. Hook up your handles and then sit on up facing your foot bar for rowing 3.

So we're gonna go down to one heavy spring. Easier is to sit against your shoulder rest. A little harder would be to have, like, a finger's distance space hands, there's some space there, that away from your shoulder rest. And then you hook your thumbs on into the handle, the straps will be under your arms this, we want the pinky side of the hand on the handle. Squeeze those legs tied together. Reach your arms to the high diagonal.

So it's like where the ceiling meets the wall. Lower the arms down. Lift them up and hold it right here as they go up. Can you get taller and feel your shoulders find their way on your back? Open the arms wide to the side in your peripheral vision and again reach.

So it's easy to let the springs pull our arms behind us keep your arms working from your back where you can see them and you won't get pulled off of all those connections you've just made. Let's do one more together before we do rowing 4. So as your arms go up to the sky, You can let the springs help find your shoulders on the back and then lift your waist into that and then open the arms wide. Flex the ankles, head to your knees, and then we'll do rowing 4. So slide the hands from your back along the carriage.

If they lift up sooner than your heels, we're doing it from your your, like, traps, your upper traps instead of your upper back. Lift the arms to the level of the shoulders, and then your whole body will lift up and then you open the arms. And, again, round forward reach, the arms come up to the level of the shoulders, and then you lift all the way up one more time. Reach from your back. If you're like, Leslie, I do not feel that in my upper back. Do a rep with 2 springs.

You'll find it. And then please go back down to 1. Alright. Sit cross legged for Shabe and hug. Hands flip into the handles, and then your hands go behind your head, index finger, and thumb together. Push the feet down as you reach the arms up. Focus less on super straight arms and more on filling those elbows go wide to the side.

And as your arms go up, you can feel your shoulders reach away at the same time. Just trying to get taller with each rep. One more, switch the cross for hug. It's okay if you're not feeling that arm back connection in our rowing. Rowing is a place to challenge it.

So for your hug, your pinky side of the hand is in the handle. The arms open wide, and then they work towards each other. They don't have to touch. So I like to use Rowan as a challenge for me to see if I'm able to keep the connections I made. And if not, then I work the rest of the reformer to find them. Go ahead and hook up your handles. And now we're going to do some pulling straps.

You just stay on one spring, and we'll grab have that box. If you want to go back to using those weights, you can. It's sometimes really nice to focus on just the actual movement and not working against the springs. So long box on in the middle, lie onto your stomach with your shoulders, at the edge of the box. The more your chest is forward over your box, the less you actually are working the legs, but also it gets a little more challenging to find that upper back connection because you're also trying to hold your chest up. So give yourself permission to be back here.

Spend the inner fines up to get the legs more parallel, pubic bone to the mat, and then I like to put my thumbs in the leather straps that you can wrap your fist around your ropes or your straps. And you'll pull with straight wrist to the floor back towards your hips. And now it's basically what we did the warm up with two arms. Hold it here. Lift the heart. And then lower the chest down. And, again, reach the arms back. The chest only lifts if the arms pulling on the back help you lift your back.

We tend to lift our chest before we lift our arms, but instead, do the reverse, lift your arms so that that lifts your chest. I think you'll like swan on your long box more in the future. One more time. Awesome. Let's do your t pull. Slide the hands down the leather all the way to the end, t means your arms start in a t with your shoulders. And then with straight wrists, so I push my thumbs away from my wrist, pull the arms back, and then reach the arms forward. And, again, pull the arms up and back and reach. 3 more.

Just working the arms going up and back as they go back, because as your arms go back, they lift your chest and we wanna keep the arms at the level of the back. Whoo. Last time. Awesome. Hook up your handles. Pop off. We'll do backstroke next. You'll want 2 springs.

And I do wanna go in both directions. If that's not in your practice, you can do the same, the first direction twice. So we'll take the handles, behind our back and you'll sit towards the edge. You've got those 2 heavy springs on, and then give yourself permission to slide down to the edge walk on the wild side. I promise you'll like it a little bit better.

Take the hands over your head. It should look a little bit like shave. We did sitting, and then you'll reach arms and legs straight up. Arms are from the back. Open everything, circle around.

Hold it right here. Allow yourself to find that hunger with upper with the open collar boats. Bend everything in. Arms legs up. Open, circle, hold, squeeze those legs together and open the chest. Bend in, go right into the next one. Hold.

We're gonna go into reverse. You can repeat that first direction. Reach out to where we were just were in that hundred's position with open collar bones, circle it up, bend it in. And, again, reach open lift. And in last time woo. Alright. So that was definitely a challenge to our arm back connection.

Teaser on up, drop a spring down, and then let's line her back for our teaser. Okay. So heels together toes apart arms wide. Go ahead and let everything hang out. So we don't wanna start our teaser from this position because it's actually not connected.

So find your leg squeezing together, fill your shoulders, come on the back, and maybe press your pinky side of your hand into your handle. This way you can start from a connected position, scrape the fingertips along the floor to come up into your teaser, Look at your pinkies. Are they up? Lower the arms down towards the hips and then up. So if when you lower your arms, your upper body wants to fly back, we've lost that connection. It's a great place to just test the waters here. Right?

Hold the arms up, roll down with the pinky side of your hand, into the handle, come only as low as you can keep everything connected, and come back up. If the first version was hard, repeat that. Otherwise, do some ovals here. Some people call them circles, but when you're focusing on getting your arms connected to your back, wide is better than high. Right? We just go wide with the pinkies, and it allows us to really find how big we can go. Roll it down. Go only as much as you stay connected and then roll back up. You have to reverse those circles.

Pinky side of the hand into the handle, work the width as you go and roll all the way down. Alright. We're gonna let go of these handles. We're going to hop off, get rid of our box, and go into our long stretch series. So We're doing a modified long stretch series. We'll do long stretch first and then down stretch.

So you'll want a sticky pad and 2 Savvy springs on. Set yourself up for success with straight wrists on the foot bar. And then step on to your headrest into a plank. Now look at your wrist. The wider our foot bars are, the more where hands wanna slide back of them.

Keep them towards the front. Use a sticky pad if you need to, and then use your legs to press the carriage out. So now your arms are feeling that rowing 3 connection. Right? We're not pushing the foot far away. We can feel the arms gliding on our back as the legs move the carriage away.

Come all the way in, down stretch. So dig your feet into your carriage, get your heels back, and then pull your heart forward. Again, double checking those wrist and slide to the back of the foot bar. Pull your heart through your arms and push with the legs. So if you're feeling your elbows locking or your shoulders rising into your ears, we've lost the connection we're looking for.

Instead, start yourself up at the top, re reach into your legs, and then you can just hold it. Right? There's enough work here. Rather than pushing with your arms. Let your head come in. Let your heels come down. If you're skipping up stretch, that's fine. You can go right into elephant.

Push the legs back into a reverse 100. So I have a round up or back and my legs reaching, and then I come in. So in this arm back connection, we feel our arms reaching into our back, and they hold us up as our legs reach the carriage away. And then you bring it in. 2 more push with the legs.

Sometimes I have to pull my foot bar wide to feel like I'm actually staying in my arm back that allows me to get out of my elbows, heels down, ribs up. So if you've come into a down dog, pull your ribs forward, pass your weight to be on your arms and then dig those heels and push both legs back. If you wanna test your arm back connection here, reach one arm forward of the foot bar and notice what happens with your other shoulder. Did it pull into your ear switch sides? Did you have to shift the weight in your body, or was it in your center? After 3 on each side, do one more with both legs together, both arms of the footbar, and then step off.

Alright. We're gonna do a modified stomach massage series. So bring your pad forward and then come onto 3 springs. If that's too heavy, you can do 2. We'll do stomach massage to reach back. So come as close as you can on your carriage.

Doesn't have to be all the way. And then take your hands onto your shoulder rest with your feet on the foot bar. Now in an ideal world, we could all be here on the top with our shoulders wide. That's not my practice. So it's not yours.

It's okay. I take my hands more to the corners, and I bend my elbows. If that's still not enough, slide your hands down the sides of the carriage. If that's not enough, grab a foam roller, stick it there and hold it wide. Right? So here we go. We press out and in, And what I don't want you to feel is that your arms are holding you up. So as you press out the heels, we'll go down and up.

What I do want you to feel is that your armpits are lifted. Your elbows are soft. And if I ask you to take your hands off of the shoulder rest, you could still hold yourself up. Wanna try it for 2? Here we go. Take the arms. You can hook the thumbs behind you and reach your arms back. Whoo. That was fun.

Drop a spring off. And let's do 2 springs, arms forward. Sonic massage to reach up. Just do a few of these just to rinse out and see Can we have our arms in front of us and our collar bones wide? I hope you said yes.

Okay. We're gonna come all the way in footbar down. Stay on two springs for chest expansion. This is very much like doing what we did on the box with the weights and also your pull straps. So I like to put myself knees into the shoulder rest if you like to hook your feet off the back edge. That's harder. Go right ahead.

Walk your hands up your straps. And then for fun, just pinch your straps with the fingertips. Do one rep where you just pull with the fingertips. Well, that's humbling. Look to one side.

Look to the other side. And then bringing the arms forward. You can stick with that. It definitely keeps you from cheaty, or you can grab the whole strap with a fist Again, straight wrist, straight elbows, pull them back, and look both ways. Sometimes I just like to check.

Can I even pull the carriage with my fingertips? Are my arms connected to my back enough? Awesome. Okay. Thigh stretch. Grab a third spring. Put it on.

This one is gonna test our arm back connection. So we're not actually pulling with our arms, but if your arms are connected to your back, you can do the spice stretch. Right? So walk your hands up the strap, hug your knees towards each other even though they're apart and then lean back. Now right here with the collar bones wide, lift the arms to reach your arms forward and come up shoulders over knees. And, again, lean back. Are the straps pulling your shoulders forward? Are you able to keep your shoulders wide? One more.

Awesome. Hook up your handles. We're going to do our knee stretches. So what I love about knee stretches is it's a great place to challenge your arm back connection. So you have two springs on and then straight wrist. So hands on the top of that foot bar, heels back, round your spine, And then you're pushing with your legs, but can your arms reaching from your back help you round more?

Not from your shoulders, but from your center. You're so connected. You're able to create that space. Two more like this, reverse the curve. And now you have a flat back.

Pull the foot bar wide apart This will keep you from locking your elbows and push just with your legs. Last time. Alright. Running in pelvic lift. Add a third or and or 4th spring. Whatever you had for footwork, we get to check back in.

That's what I love about running a pelvic lift. It's been a bit since we laid down, So here you are. Does it feel any more welcome for your upper back to be on your carriage? Feet parallel on the foot bar, press out. One heel lender, one heel up.

And instead of focusing on how low your heel can go, just notice how wide your upper back feels, maybe even how connected your upper abs can feel because they're space. They have room. And then come all the way in. Come wide with your feet on your arches for pelvic lift. Turn them out. Lift just your pelvis a little bit and press your arms into the carriage as you go out and in and worry less about how straight your legs get and more on how strong your upper body can feel.

Awesome. Come all the way down. Hop off. We have one more thing to do together. So we're going to do the control push ups prep. Alright? So I don't expect you to do a wide thing, the big full version, yet. If your worries you, watch this, but then replace it with, long stretch and your long back arm.

So that's gonna be a great exercise for you to replace this with. So you're gonna gear out. If your reformer does not gear out, then by all means, only use one heavy spring. If you're on the shorter side, like, under 54 fund size, I like to say, you might not have to gear out at all. So I'm gonna put my peg in just to keep everything from banging around.

And then I'm gonna do this on one spring. 2 heavy springs is actually really nice. They'll take your hands to the back of your shoulder rest. So I know that's a little scary. You might need some sticky pads. We don't want it to be on the front.

We don't wanna bend the wrists and push from our chest. We wanna go right here. On the back edge. And then you take your foot onto the foot bar. You pike up and you plank out.

And this could be enough. In fact, if you just wanna go from an elephant to a plank and feel your arms reaching from your back, and how the carriage can move. This is a great exercise to do, actually. Otherwise, we'll just reach our arms forward and then pull the carriage back. So when we're not doing the legs, just the arms forward, pull the carriage back.

Stand on the whole ball of your foot so your collar bones go nice and wide. Let's do one more. Head in, lift your ribs with the carriage all the way close, step all the way to the floor and come up. Alright. Now we have the reverse prep. So this is where long back stretch would work, or it dips off the footbar would be really great.

Hands have to go to the front edge of your shoulder rest, but here's the deal. If that feels a little scary, grab sticky pads, you don't wanna be back here. It'll be here and then grip strength. Then foot, hand foot. So you can just hold this.

This could be enough. Right? You can step off, step back on, readjust, but pull your wrist straight collar bones wide and then stand in your legs. Then if you're ready, push the arms back and forward. So get not doing the legs, just the arms. It feels like a reverse chest extension to me, which I really like. Stay on the whole ball of your foot You don't have to close the spring or push this really far. We're just pushing as much as we can feel that from our upper back and then pulling the carriage in ourselves.

Let's do one more together, step to the floor, and double check how your arms and back feel. Do you feel wider across your collar bones? Do you feel wider in your ribs? If I asked you to do a push up right now, could you do it? I think so. Thank you so much for letting me teach you.

This is one of my arm back connection classes, and it's one of my favorite things to teach people how to do because it's going to open up a whole world of exercises for you. So enjoy, and I'll see you next time.


1 person likes this.
Lesley - you are awesome and beautiful and the theme, feeling the arm-back connection, makes now total sense to me! Great class! Only- you are sooo fast! I stopped here and there to really feel it and rather do some slower repetitions.  Thank you!
2 people like this.
Great class and great cues.  The class was a little fast paced so I also stopped and paused it so I could catch all the great cueing and helpful tips.
1 person likes this.
beautiful teaser :)

Silke L Awe thank you so much for your feedback! Yes, I do like to keep my classes moving. I'm thrilled to hear you took time to pause for your own personal practice. And I hope you come back. The more you do it the more you can find them at different paces. x~LL 
Kimberly R Thanks for taking class with me! It is a zesty paced workout. But I love hearing when people hit pause to repeat or do more reps of an exercise. Also if you come back to try it again you can check in with yourself around exercises you slowed down for to see if your practice needs that pause again or if your connections stuck. Way to honor your practice xx~LL 
Diana A Thank you!!! 
Brandie D
1 person likes this.
As always this is fantastic! The 10 minute tutorial was super beneficial to compliment. Heard some new cueing that "landed" for me and love how you execute.
Brandie D yass! Love reading this! Thank you for letting me know. Excited to hear how you use it xx~LL 
1 person likes this.
Thanks Lesley for this brilliant class connecting arms and back love the technique. 
1 person likes this.
Rachel thrilled to hear you enjoyed it so much! Hope you like the next class that goes along with it xx~LL
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