In this tutorial we take advantage of some photos sent in by a reader. Steve, a Pilates instructor in training, was kind enough to send us a couple of photos of himself making progress, with the help of his instructor, on a very difficult Pilates reformer exercise.
Before you panic, we are not going to be learning this exercise. What we are going to do is look at the elements of Steve's form that you can apply to many Pilates exercises you do, from beginner through advanced.
What we have here is a basic plank position. What is making this exercise extra difficult is that Steve is doing it perched on the Pilates reformer with his feet on the foot bar and his hands on the shoulder rests, which means that the carriage of the reformer can slide away from him unless he really engages his Pilates powerhouse. From this position there are reformer exercises that are even harder, like control balance front, or leg pull front reformer.
In this first view, Steve is showing us some classic things that can go wrong with a plank position - and it doesn't matter if you are doing basic plank, push up, leg pull front, or long stretch on the reformer, these issue appear.
What we want to see is long line from ankle to ear. What you see so far is that Steve's head is dropped and he is getting very little support from his core. Those factors are conspiring to overload his shoulders and the outsides of his arms. You can see that, right?
(note that when we feel unstable, as anyone would in this precarious position, we tend to load onto whatever area we think is our strongest. In men, that's usually the shoulders. If this was a woman you might see her in more of a pike position trying to get weight and power into her legs and hips.)
Next, lets see the first improvement Steve makes.