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Pilates Reformer Exercise Instructions: The Rowings 3 and 4

Contributed by Alisa Wyatt


Updated February 07, 2013

The Pilates reformer exercises called the Rowings are intermediate level exercises. The rowings 3 and 4 exercise instructions you will find below are brief. They are meant to support your Pilates reformer class experience with them.

There are six rowing exercises in the classical Pilates rowings sequence. Below are instructions for rowings 3 and 4. Please see Pilates reformer rowings 1 and 2 and rowings 5 - 6 as well. Of course the rowings are usually done in the context of a full Pilates reformer workout.

We are fortunate to have photos and exercise instructions here from well-known Pilates instructor and founder of Pilatesology.com, Alisa Wyatt. (more on pg. 2). From Alisa: "The rowing series is all about connecting to your center and radiating the strength from the base of your hips up your back and out your arms. The arms are only as strong as your connection to your center so the more you can lengthen and surround your spine with strength, the better you'll move."

This sequence is shown in a way that allows you to see the flow of the exercises. Please click on each image to enlarge it and learn more about performing each move with good form. All exercises use 1 spring.

Pilates Reformer Rowing 3 - From the Chest - Step 1

reformer exercise
(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com
Begin sitting upright. Your bottom is against the reformer shoulder blocks and your legs are together and straight with toes pointed. Your hands are next to your chest with elbows close to the sides. Four fingers are through the straps so the strap is between thumb and first finger along the flat of the palm, not hooked on the thumb. Palms face out.

Rowing 3 - Step 2

(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com
Originating movement from your powerhouse, press arms out at eye level, lifting the spine at same time.
the rowing movements translate the strength of your lower back out through the limbs.

Rowing 3 - Step 3

(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com
Keep your arms straight and press down to touch the mat with your fingertips while lifting the spine even taller.

Rowing 3 - Step 4

pilates reformer rowing
(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com
Lift arms up higher than eye level (but not beyond peripheral vision) and continue to lift, squeezing the bottom and supporting the arms from way down in your lower core.

Rowing 3 - Step 5

pilates reformer exercise
(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com

Open the arms and circle down. Arms stay within the peripheral vision. Try not to move the reformer carriage -- that's how lifted you should be.
Imagine you're a cork getting lifted out of the bottle by the levers of your arms as they return down to touch the carriage.

Rowing 3 - Step 6

(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com

Circle the arms down and around to the starting point.

Perform the full exercise 3 times.

Pilates Reformer Rowing 4 - From the Hips - Step 1

pilates reformer rowing
(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com
Sit upright as pictured. Straps are in the hands and hands are at hips.

Rowing 4 - Step 2

(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com
Flex your feet, and look into your abdomen as you pull it back and reach the arms all the way past and below your heels (or try to).

Rowing 4 - Step 3

(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com
Continue reaching from way down in your lower back to roll up. Imagine your fingers touching a wall just beyond your feet. Don’t lose touch as your arms come up.

Rowing 4 - Step 4

reformer rowing exercise
(c)2012, Alisa Wyatt. Licensed to About.com
Now reach arms to ceiling (but within peripheral vision), still lifting spine!

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