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Exercise of the Month: Front Rowing on the Reformer

Upper body strength is essential for anyone who wants to advance their Pilates practice and perform more challenging exercises. But it’s also just as important for regular day-to-day function— picking up kids, hauling groceries, gardening, etc.

In this Exercise of the Month video, Merrithew® Instructor Trainer and the founder of Berliner Pilates, Deborah Degano, takes us through this STOTT PILATES® Intermediate Reformer repertoire exercise, Front Rowing on the Reformer.

Follow along for a challenging upper body workout that targets the arms, torso and back.

The importance of upper body strength

While many people associate Pilates with strengthening the abdominal muscles, upper body strength plays just as important a role in this form of exercise.

Pilates is not just about ab curls and leg lifts; it’s a full-body workout. Pilates is such an appealing workout because it requires every muscle group to work, helping participants improve their balance, strength and flexibility. The upper body is just as important as the lower body, and neglecting it can lead to imbalances, poor posture and limited mobility.

Whether you’re an athlete wanting to improve your game or a senior looking to make day-to-day tasks easier—upper body strength will help.

Stronger arms and shoulders can help correct posture and relieve muscle tension. One study found that good upper body strength could help runners improve their running efficiency.

Does Pilates help build upper body strength?

The short answer - yes!

Whether you’re a beginner who has just started exercising or an advanced-level exerciser with mindful movement in your everyday routine, Pilates is for everyone. There are various mat Pilates exercises and Reformer Pilates workouts designed for people with different fitness levels to help them achieve upper body strength.

The versatility and low-impact nature of Pilates makes it the ideal workout for people of any age, gender, or fitness level. Pilates emphasizes proper alignment and movement patterns, which leads to improved muscle activation and control. This, in turn, translates to increased strength and endurance, especially in the upper body muscles.

Pilates movements, such as the plank, push-ups, and arm circles, among others, specifically target the chest, shoulders, arms, and upper back muscles. One of the unique aspects of Pilates is its use of resistance equipment, such as the Fitness Circle® Pro, Resistance Loop, and Mini Handweights, which are used to increase the challenge and intensity of the exercises.

These tools provide added resistance to the muscles being worked, leading to greater activation, and ultimately, greater strength gains. Furthermore, Pilates movements require a significant amount of core engagement to maintain proper form, which indirectly engages the upper body muscles. The core and upper body muscles work together to stabilize the body during movements such as the Pilates push-up, which targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

What are the benefits of Front Rowing on the Reformer?

Improved posture

Front Rowing on the Reformer requires a strong and stable core, promoting better posture and spine alignment.

Increased flexibility

This exercise allows for a greater range of motion than traditional mat-based Pilates, which can help increase flexibility in the shoulders, arms and neck.

Enhanced core strength

Front Rowing Pilates exercises on the Reformer require strong engagement of the core muscles, which helps build strength and stability in the abdominal and lower back muscles.

Improved balance

This workout can help improve balance and stability by challenging the body to maintain a stable position while performing movements on a movable surface.

Injury prevention

This is a low-impact workout that focuses on proper alignment and muscle activation, which can help prevent injury and improve overall body mechanics.

Increased body awareness

Focusing on proper alignment and muscle activation in Front Rowing Pilates exercises on the Reformer can help increase body awareness and mindfulness, leading to better control of movement and overall performance in daily activities.

Enjoyed working out with Deborah?

Check out her upcoming courses and workshops here.

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