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The Reformer Pilates Ab Exercise Workout You Need

Planks are great, but if they’re all you do, they can get pretty boring. Enter any Pilates ab exercise on the reformer. Keep reading to learn our favorite core strength exercises that can be done on the reformer or the mat to keep your workouts interesting and effective!

Is reformer Pilates good for core?

Pilates on the reformer is one of the most effective ways to build core strength, because you get a full body workout that has core strength built into every exercise!

Some of benefits practicing your favorite Pilates s ab exercise on the reformer include:

  • Better posture
  • Improved balance
  • Less back pain
  • Better performance during activities such as running, tennis, and golf

Given all the things that it can help you with, reformer Pilates is one of the best things that you can do for your health and fitness! Learn more about the benefits of reformer Pilates. 

Here’s a Pilates ab exercise tutorial with our favorite core moves that you can do on the reformer!

To kick up the heat, practice each of these exercises in the order listed to strengthen your abs in under 10 minutes!

This sequence targets your abs while building whole body strength. While this workout is designed to challenge your core, it also strengthens your shoulders and opens tight hamstrings.

How to set-up your reformer to get the most out of each Pilates ab exercise

Step 1: Place your footbar in your preferred position and make sure that it is locked in.

Step 2: Set your springs to one heavy spring- This will be 1 Blue on Flexia. For spring conversions on another reformer, check out our conversion list and we’ll let you know what to use.

Now let's get into the exercises!

Best Pilates reformer abs workout

Pilates Ab Exercise #1: Elephant


Step your feet back to your shoulder blocks, and start with your hands about shoulder distance apart; feel as if you're in a downward facing dog position. You may feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

Lengthen through your spine, stabilize through your shoulder girdle.

Inhale, kick your carriage open, just six to eight inches, exhale, draw the carriage back under you.

Exhale, as you draw the carriage back under you. You want to feel the sensation of your low core activating, turning on — lighting up. It's a super subtle connection, but we want to hone in on that.

As you breathe, drop it in and connect.

Repeat 8 times

Pilates Ab Exercise #2: Pike to Plank, aka Upstretch


Same set up as elephant, but lift your heels halfway up your shoulder blocks. You may be feeling the core a bit more when you come up onto your toes, and it sort of takes the stretch out of the hamstrings and gets us to activate more core than when we were in that initial elephant position.

Let’s test it out: Inhale, open the carriage a few inches; Exhale to close the springs. Remember to keep your shoulder super stable, try to not let them shift forward and back as you move your legs.

Let’s go for full plank now: Inhale find your plank position, exhale draw in and close the carriage. As you kick back into plank, hinge around your hip joint.

Repeat 8 times

Pilates Ab Exercise #3: Floating Plank, aka Longstretch


Hold your plank and stabilize through your core, shoulders, and legs.Staying in that long plank position, float the carriage forward toward the stopper.

Inhale, press the carriage away; Exhale pull forward.

Note: You may feel this a lot in your shoulders. If your shoulders feel unstable, you can add a light spring. If it feels heavy, swap for your 1 heavy spring, and move to a medium spring. We want to be feeling that core connection and shoulder stabilization throughout.

Repeat 8 times

Want more Pilates reformer classes? Check out this 20 minute free reformer workout on our YouTube Channel.

Get the benefits of reformer core exercises at home!

If you don't have a reformer, each Pilates ab exercise listed above can be done without Pilates equipment. We recommend placing a box or bench under your hands and sliders under your feet. Conversely, you could use paper plates instead of sliders. Also, while there are benefits to all forms of exercise, you will get the best results from doing these on a reformer.

For the best at-home workout, it's helpful to choose a reformer that meets your needs. To learn more about how to pick the right reformer, check out our reformer buying guide

Additionally, click here to learn more about our smart Pilates reformer designed for in-home use.

Or click here to watch an honest review of the Flexia Reformer.