How to Use the Reformer to Open & Strengthen Hips

Slim waistlines and toned midsections are just two of the results from training on a Pilates reformer. If you have tight quadriceps, hip flexors, adductors and weak hip abductors, you can increase your lower body flexibility and strength on the reformer. Perform the following series of exercises to help open and strengthen the hips at least two to three days a week.

Hip Bridging, Using the Loops and More


Set the resistance with two strong and one medium or light spring. Lay down on the carriage face up, heels of the feet on the footbar spaced shoulder-width apart, knees bent. Keep the carriage still underneath you as you lift the hips off the carriage into a bridge. Hold the bridge as you push back, feeling a contraction in the hamstrings. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions. Repeat the same exercise with the feet spaced hip-width apart.


Change the resistance to two medium or one medium and one light spring. Go back to supine position and place the long loops on both feet, keeping the knees bent. Slowly straighten out the legs then bring the feet up towards the ceiling, keeping the lower back on the carriage. Keeping the carriage still, slowly open your legs out to the side, stretching the adductor muscles. Bring the legs back together, then lower your legs down toward the footbar. This time allow the carriage to move as you open and close your legs. Repeat 10 to 12 times.


Add one strong or medium spring for resistance for lateral lunges. Facing the reformer from the sIde, position the left foot on the floor, then place the right foot on the carriage by the shoulder block. The legs will be in a wide stance. Keep the left leg straight as you bend the right knee and move the carriage to the right. Hold the lunge, then return to the starting position. Complete 15 to 20 repetitions before changing to the other side. Finish by kneeling with one leg, pushing the carriage back to stretch the hip flexors and quadriceps on each side for 30 seconds to one minute.

Things Needed

  • Pilates reformer
  • Exercise mat


  • Adding more spring resistance to the reformer will make the carriage more stable, but also more challenging to move. With all reformer exercises, you want to feel that you have to engage the core muscles to properly execute the moves. When the feet are in the loops, the hamstrings and adductors will feel a stretch. Make sure the tailbone stays down on the carriage when the feet are up in the air in the loops.


  • The reformer can be an unstable surface. Take your time when transitioning from sitting to supine and stepping on and off the reformer, especially with light spring resistance.

Resources (1)

About the Author

Robin Marcel Gillespie has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. She is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Pilates and spin instructor who loves to dance.