Health and Wellbeing

Make Your Abdominal Workouts Easy With A Home Pilates Reformer

This is for all those busy mums on the go, who lost their abs along the way! Here’s how you can create a simple & effective core workout using a Home Pilates Reformer…

As busy stay home mums, we don’t always put ourselves first. Unfortunately, that sometimes means a lack of prioritising what keeps us healthy and fit. It might be through lack of time, finding it hard to leave the house, or unable to keep up with local gym class schedules.

Welcome to Pilates Reformer!

Pilates has surged in popularity in the last 10-15 years and we’re now starting to see why. It’s a great workout for your core muscles, arms, and legs. It also has the added benefits of challenging your flexibility and balance, whilst being relatively low impact.

So, if you are just getting back into exercise, or looking to increase your fitness further, then Pilates might just be the answer! The great news is you don’t need to purchase a huge Pilates Reformer machine to do this. There are Foldable Pilates Reformers that can fit quite nicely into the family home.

Today I want to show you the benefits of this amazing exercise. We’ll explore why home Pilates Reformer is for you, the results you might achieve, and why getting a home Pilates Reformer will change the way you look at exercise.

You may already be incorporating some exercises whilst working from home but Pilates will tone and shape your body. As Mr Joseph Pilates said himself:

“ You will feel better in ten sessions, look better in twenty sessions, and have a completely new body in thirty sessions”

And who doesn’t want those results! 🙂

Foldable Home Pilates Reformer
AeroPilates Premier Studio 700 Pilates Reformer. Credit: Stamina Products


What are the best Folding Pilates Reformers to consider for your abdominal workout?

When looking for your first home Pilates Reformer I suggest considering a Folding Reformer. Foldable Pilates Machines still have a sturdy frame, heavy duty bungee cords, good supporting padding on the carriage, and straps for your hands. Best of all, they don’t come with a hefty price tag!

women on home Pilates reformer working her arms with hands in short straps out in fly position


What to look for in a Folding Home Pilates Reformer

 There are a few things to consider when examining the best foldable Pilates machines for your home use. Here’s the 4 top things I’ve found has made the most difference.


1) Foldable Pilate Machines must be collapsible but have a sturdy frame

Any Reformer frame must be sturdy enough to hold your weight, and the carriage must glide smoothly up the railing.

You must pay attention to the quality of the frame when choosing any Reformer. This is particularly important when you are buying a folding reformer as the carriageway will be weaker than a fully framed non-collapsable Reformer.

For Home Foldable Reformers I like the AeroPilates Foldable Reformers. In particular, I prefer the higher series models, such as the AeroPilates 700. The frame on this machine is sturdier versus much lower and very basic Reformers as the DMA Clinical Pilates Reformer.


2) Heavy duty bungee cords to add resistance to your workouts

Reformer springs or bungee cords add resistance to your workouts. It’s how you can build up your abdominals!

You add more spring on to provide greater resistance. But don’t be fooled, lighter springs can mean your abdominals are working harder!

Check that your Foldable Reformer has at least 2, preferably 3 bungee colours. These denote the spring tension type.

You also want to have 4 resistance cords. That way, you can add enough resistance to work the large muscles groups, such as the quads and legs.


3) Good supportive padding on your Foldable Reformer

Look for good supportive padding on the carriage, around the shoulder rests, and also the headrest.

You will have periods where you will be lying on your back on the Reformer, and you want the carriage to feel supportive. Also, think about the durability of the padding, you want it to last, so go for brands that have put in the effort to provide good upholstery.


4) Look for Folding Reformers that include Hand & Feet straps

You should still expect straps for hands & feet on Folding Reformers. This allows you to exercise so much more of your body and muscles and you can build up more dynamic routines.

The standard is:

  • Hand Straps: are for your hands, to build up arm muscles.
  • Feet Straps: are to put over your feet to build up leg muscles.

The hand & feet straps will be attached to a cord-like rope, which runs through a pulley at the back of the Reformer. This is then attached to the riser (the sticky back bits of a Pilates Reformer machine).

parts of a home Pilates Reformer
Know your Pilates Reformer Machine -the lingo of different parts of the Reformer. Credit:



Why Home Pilates Reformer achieves fantastic Abdominal Results

Pilates Reformer exercises concentrate on using the abdominal muscles. These are muscles, which if you are sitting around a lot or working on your home computer, you aren’t using very much! That’s why we need to keep them engaged, constantly working, and building them up. Pilates does just that.

With a lot of Pilates exercises, you are using your core to keep other body extremities still. For example, you need to activate your core to do things like:

  • Holding your leg up behind you
  • Doing curl-ups
  • Or even when pushing away from the foot bar.

Let’s not forget about using our abdominals in a half plank or full plank.

When you look at a Pilates Reformer workout, most movements engage your core. So, there you have it – if you want your core muscles back or to get better abdominals, start working them on your Home Pilates Reformer!


Quick exercises to get you moving on your Reformer

When first starting out on the Reformer, the machine itself can look a bit daunting. Here are 3 quick beginner exercises to get you moving fast on the Reformer.


1) Exercises using the Foot Bar

 Start with lying on your back, shoulders up against the shoulder blocks, feet hip distance on foot bar. Use this position to warm up those large leg muscles.

Things that you should watch out for:

  1. Push evenly into both your heels,
  2. Heels should be hip distance apart,
  3. Keep the tailbone heavy on the carriage,
  4. Extend the carriage all the way out, finding your maximum extension each time.

Another exercise at the foot bar is bringing the toes together in the centre of the foot bar and heel dips under the foot bar. Here you are engaging the smaller muscles in the foot. These foot and lower leg exercises can help improve circulation and are great for the calves.


2) Adnominal Curl Ups

Stay lying on your back, bring up your legs into tabletop, hands in short straps, arms straight towards the ceiling, palms facing ahead.

Start pulling your hands down towards your pockets and returning straight arms towards the ceiling. Now add a curl up as you bring your hands to your pockets.

You can enhance this exercise by trying single leg extensions. Or to make it super spicy, try double leg extensions, keeping your legs together as you extend away in front of you.

Woman working her abdominals on her Pilates Reformer with knees in tabletop and hands in straps

3) Working into your Lats with Abdominals turned on

Face the back of your Pilates Reformer, on all 4s, on hands and knees. Pull the long foot strap (just on one side) and slip it over your foot. Bend the same knee towards your same side elbow and then extend that same leg long behind you. Look towards the same side that you are bending your knee.


Using Props to Work Abdominals on your Reformer

You can add props to your Home Pilates Reformer workout. Many Foldable Pilates Reformer beds have an attached spring cardio rebounder, which you can bounce off when you are in the flat lying position on your carriage.

Bouncing off the rebounder can not only lift your heart rate but also feel your abdominals working as you push away from the rebounder.

If you want to add a bit more to your workout, then as you push away, start to bring one of both knees up towards your chest. You may want to hold onto the shoulder blocks behind you for support.

On the folding beds, you may want to use some of these other smaller pieces of equipment, to keep your workout dynamic:

  1. Pilates Ring
  2. Small squishy ball (can go between your ankles, knees, hands -one of the most versatile props, it also makes a good headrest when you are lying down side-on)
  3. Hand weights or dumbbells
  4. Dowel stick


Other Home Pilates Reformers to consider that aren’t foldable

When getting started with your Pilates at Home routine, the Foldable Pilates Reformer will satisfy you in most cases.

However, as you start to advance in Reformer, you may want to start looking at other Reformer types and brands on the market. To keep it simple, here’s an Ultimate Buying Guide for Home Pilates Reformers to show you all the ins and outs of considering a top-ranking Pilates Reformer.

I personally like the Body Balanced Allegro II and Stott Pilates Merrithew Reformers. They are high performing Reformers that glide smoothly up the carriage to give you a seamless practice.

This is also the exact reason why you see so many of these machines in Pilates Reformer studios – they are good, high-quality machines 🙂

Woman with feet in straps on her Body Balanced Allegro 2 Reformer working out from home


Home Pilates Reformer is an investment in your core and overall health

Investing in a Pilates Reformer machine as a home exercise tool is one of the best health investments you’ll ever make. There are so many dynamic exercises you can do on the machines; many of them using your core muscles, without even leaving home. You’ll get great results from this workout, and that’s why Pilates Reformer has so many celebs onboard!

Jessie Carda

Jessie Carda is a passionate Pilates Instructor and loves no other than being on her Pilates Reformer. She loves to share her knowledge and love for Pilates with others and regularly teaches Pilates Reformer. She hopes to inspire other mums to take up this wonderful workout, have fun, and see the difference that this amazing exercise can have on your mindset and shape of your body.