Exercise #1904

Pulling Straps 1 & 2

5 min - Exercise


Muscle Focus: Back extensors.

Objective: Strengthening the back body and shoulders through prone extension.

Reformer Setup: Start with one medium tension spring. Tension can be made heavier or lighter depending on the resistance desired, but proper form and function are more important than strength in this exercise. Place the longbox onto the carriage with the short end of the box against the shoulder rests. The footbar is down.

Start Position: Lie prone on the box, with the shoulders lined up against the front edge of the box and the legs straight and together. Hold the handles in both hands, holding a few inches above the silver buckles on the rope. Let the arms hang straight towards the ground as the body comes to a straight line, neck in line with the spine.


Pulling Straps: Face both palms in towards the carriage. Draw the arms straight back to slightly above hip level, keeping the arms straight and close to the body, with the palms facing in towards each other. As the arms rise, lift the chest in a back extension, keeping the head in line with the spine and the legs together and lengthened. Press the pubic bone towards the box to avoid strain in the lower back. Lower the arms and chest simultaneously to return to start position. Repeat two to four more times.

T-Pull: Reach both arms straight out to the side in a T, in line with the body, and with palms facing the floor. Keeping the arms in the same plane as the body, sweep and reach the arms back to reach in the opposite direction of the head while the chest lifts in a slight back extension. Palms stay facing down while the shoulders find a strong external rotation. Legs stay together and straight throughout the movement. Return to start position and repeat two to four more times.

What You'll Need: Reformer w/Box

About This Video

(Pace N/A)
Jan 25, 2015
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Hi there. We're taking a look at the long box now with pulling straps one and two Chrissy's right now in somewhat of a not fully prepared way to get started while I introduce this. Uh, but with the pulling straps exercises we are prone for the first time on the reformer and you need to probably go back and take a look at the basic back extension tutorial. This is really built from that and you'll need a fairly good understanding of how to use your back muscles to elevate yourself from the box, which you'll see shortly. And this also integrates the pulling of the straps, relationship of arms, shoulder blades into back muscles and the back extensors. But this exercise is actually lovely for the entire back line of the body to strengthen and a little bit of stretch for the front of the chest.

Very much like you've, you saw in the um, basic back extension tutorial, right? So muscles of focus, again, you're going to be feeling shoulders, neck a little bit. It's okay to feel the neck. We need a strong neck all along the spine, the back extensors. You will feel your glutes, you will feel your hamstrings. Hopefully not the priority of the muscles there, but the essential will be up in the back. All right, so the setup we're going to look for, she's going to get a little more precise in this shoulders or under arms, relatively right at the front corners of the box. Legs are together, not overly so, but they're connected and like we set up in the beginning on the foot work alignment is key here so we don't want to be too right or too left on the box.

So you want to be dead. Center legs are together. He'd have some energy but you don't have to over point. But once again, if that heel squeeze might feel very nice to reconnect that into your legs that you found in footwork. See how it all wraps together. So we'll start this one long arms and I'm going to have Christie just kind of make a soft fist. We'll do it first without the actual pulling on the rope so that you can see the timing. She starts in a little bit of a lifted chest position. It'll get higher as we pull the of the straps.

What I want you to key into first, the first thing you'll want to see and feel is the shoulder blade start from here, but travel down and in slightly as the arms also travel back fist about the height of the box. She lowers the arms and the chest will also lower down slightly. Let's do two more like that. Shoulder blades begin the chest lifts as the arms pool and the neck remains very long. You saw Christie earlier in some other tutorials with that beautiful neck alignment. Pause right here. Here's what you'll want to check out for, not over lifting the neck back like that, and it may be easy to do that when you start pulling on the ropes in a minute, so you'll want to watch out for that and keep that idea that the neck is part of your back and the length. Okay? I'll even all the way down to the feet. All right.

We're about now to add the attention or the actual pulling on the strap or pulling on the rope. This is done on a red spring. Traditionally or medium spring. That's what we have here. Uh, certainly you could adjust that and go lower if needed or heavier if needed. I would start on the red. That would just be a good suggestion. So here we go. Chrissy's going to reach ahead and grab the straps and there are a few different ways to hold. We just kinda like to grab on that that rubber grip or that wrapping that looks like electrical tape and sometimes can wind the hand around.

You do want a solid connection with your hand. We don't want the risk to be flexed or extended so that the risk line is long. It's relating right up into the arm bone, which relates into that shoulder, into the back and into the spine. You can see how it relates down to the feet. Let's take a shoulder blade movement, Christy down the ribs a bit. Start that in.

Inhale as you begin to increase that shoulder blade down and in and lift the chest and then exhale, the arms come down, the chest comes down a little again. So we're building that relationship of arms into back. All right, so the other thing to keep in mind is we're looking for relative symmetry and height that the shoulder. So if you're, you know, dipping one side, we're going to work to correct that. We really want that level to be consistent across feeling how you pull the arms, that resistance of into your shoulders, your lats and into your back. The height might matter as well.

So you're noticing that Chris is not coming up so high, but it's really that you're going to stay right there that the ribs, the beats of the ribs are still touching the box. I might have her do one exaggerated this next one around. Cool. A little too high. Kristy, he's going to lit only too high, which also might be that the head takes her back or that the legs kick up too high. Neither of those are ideal. So we're going to keep those legs down and there it is. That's a more ideal for that one. Usually three to five repetitions.

She's just done six so I'm going to let her break for a moment. And that's the pulling straps, one that travels more alongside the frame. The next segment to this exercise is the pulling straps t position. We need a spring change at this point. So we were on the red. I'm going to drop in and put the glow blue spring on for Christie and then take off the red. Um, you again, you can certainly do it on the red, but the blue is nice. We want form and function.

Most importantly rather than yanking on that heavy spring and distorting your alignment and you can always build up to heavier weight later. All right, so the body position is still the same. You can see what's going to be different. She'll slide her hand back on the strap a little bit near the hardware and unwrap the hands. And notice now this long tee position she has, the hands are not higher arms are not higher than the back. She's quite level here. Same principles apply with moving the shoulder blades down the ribs slightly.

That's she invites the arms to come in. Now here's a key point. Wrapping the shoulders. This is that external rotation. These muscles of the shoulder feed right into the back extensors. And as she opens the arms, they stay level parallel to the floor. Three to five repetitions is fine.

You do need your abdominal support here. Of course, that's a basic fundamental. You do not have to lift your back a higher. This is the shoulder to back connection to more Kristy. You can inhale as you pull opening that chest and notice how she keeps that really parallel line across her arms and shoulders. And as you finish the exercise, you can simply lower your arms down.

You can let your chest rest. And I think it's fine to let your head relax. We've done just a lot of exercise and strengthening four and also bend those knees to relax your back for the back of the body. So again, we just did pulling straps, number one, and number two.

Related Content


Katia P
Hi I have a quick question about the breathing. I have seen here different instructions about the breath. Rael Recommends to exhale when you are pulling the straps and inhale when you release. Here Amy recommends to inhale when you are flexing the spine. I understand both concepts, I can see the benefits of inhaling as you activate the back extensors so you open the chest, but I also understand the opposite concept of exhaling when the muscle is in action. Is there a right or wrong concept? Or should we use it both depending on the needs of the client? I really appreciate your advice. Thank you so much
1 person likes this.
Katia ~ Thank you for your forum post. I have found this confusing in the past as well because I have learned the breathing for many exercises in different ways. I think they are both correct and can be valuable. I also think that you should use them according to your client's needs as they can feel different. I hope this helps!
2 people like this.
Hi Katia......I agree with Gia 100% and with you too----depending on the need of the client! I'm a client-centered / student-centered teacher, but with that said, I often adhere to what I learned originally. On this exercise, I was taught to inhale on the lift, and exhale on the return. Possibly it was because my teacher saw that I needed to expand my front body/shoulders/chest with the effort of the pulling of straps. For me to exhale and pull is easy, but my shoulders stay rounded. I needed to widen, open, expand. This is why I teach with that breath. :)
Katia P
Thank you Amy, I love your classes.
1 person likes this.
Thank you Katia!

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