Pilates Exercise of the Month: Table Top on the Reformer

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This exercise works the core abdominals whilst maintaining lumbar and scapula stability

Starting Position


Place the box lengthways on the carriage.  The footbar is down.  The head and body are facing towards the shoulder rests.  Face the box and place one knee at a time onto it.  Place the hands onto the outside edges of the box.  The body is in a four point kneeling position with the hands under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Place one foot into the strap. The leg hangs down directly under the hip (or slightly forwards of it) on the outside edge of the frame of the machine.  The opposite knee may have to move slightly over towards the centre of the box as the straight leg drops down over the side of the box.



Inhale – To prepare

Exhale – To engage the core abdominals, draw down the scapula and pull on the strap to raise the leg up to shoulder height, or wherever a neutral pelvis allows. The carriage will move accordingly

Inhale – To lower the leg back down under control to return to the starting position

Target Muscles


Core abdominals, scapula stabilisers, gluteals,




  • Keep the elbows soft
  • Do not lift the leg higher than hip height (or less if neutral is lost)
  • Ensure the scapula stabilising muscles are working hard to prevent the shoulders hiking up to the ears.  Keep serratus anterior working to prevent the scapula collapsing together
  • Ensure both shoulders are level with each other.  Usually the opposite shoulder to the leg that is lifting will want to shift forwards
  • Keep the collarbones wide and open
  • Maintain equal length on both sides of the waist
  • Keep the core abdominals working hard to maintain a neutral spine throughout and prevent the pelvis from rotating, dipping or arching

Variation One

This may be performed with the hands holding onto the shoulder rest handles instead of the edge of the box

Contra Indictions


This exercise places extra strain on the wrist and knee joints.  Take care for those who suffer from problems in these joints.

More Exercises... 1 - 20 of 64

To work the deep and superficial abdominals and oblique abdominals whilst maintaining a neutral pelvis

Elephant on the Reformer– Round Back (0.5 – 2 springs)

This exercise works on the powerhouse to draw the carriage in.  There is also a stretch for the hamstrings and calves.

Table Top

To work the core abdominals whilst maintaining lumbar and scapula stability and to challenge balance and co-ordination

More info about Table Top
Glass Table

To work the abductors whilst maintaining length in the waist and pelvic stability

More info about Glass Table

To work the abdominals and move sequentially through the spine with control

More info about Teaser
The Spine Twist

  To strengthen the core and oblique abdominals, whilst maintaining a neutral spine with good posture and good use of scapula stability

More info about The Spine Twist
The Boomerang

  To work the abdominals and achieve segmental control of the spine and to stretch the back

More info about The Boomerang
Chalk circles

  To learn how to rotate and stretch the thoracic spine, whilst maintaining a neutral lumbar spine.  To open out the chest and shoulders.

More info about Chalk circles
Legs in straps on the Reformer

  To prepare the body and mind for the more challenging work later on when the feet are in the straps.  To reinforce the powerhouse connection.

Prone Frogs

  To work in turn out, whist strengthening the gluteals and to maintain scapula stability

More info about Prone Frogs
The Eagle

  This exercise strengthens the mid back muscles and scapula stabilisers.  The lats are much more involved in this version.

More info about The Eagle
Quadricep Lean Backs with Pelvic Rock

  To work the quadriceps


  To open the chest and shoulder muscles and learn good workings of the scapula stabilising muscles


  To work the abdominals whilst maintaining scapula and pelvic stability


  To work the oblique abdominals whilst achieving segmental control of the spine

More info about AROUND THE GLOBE
Legs in straps

  To prepare the body and mind for the more challenging work later on when the feet are in the straps.  To reinforce the powerhouse connection.

More info about Legs in straps

  To maintain a strong bridge position with neutral pelvis and also maintain an equal height in the pelvis whilst the feet push the roller forwards and backwards


 To work the core abdominals, whilst maintaining lumbar and scapula stability.  To challenge balance and co-ordination

More info about SINGLE LEG DOGGIES
Side lying obliques

  This exercise strengthens and stretches the oblique abdominals and lateral flexors

More info about Side lying obliques
Hip Circles

  This is a challenging exercise for the core abdominals to maintain pelvic stability

More info about Hip Circles
1 - 20 of 64
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