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Reformer: Short Box Series Reach aka “Flat Back”


Reformer Short Box Series: “Reach” aka Flat Back 

I learned to call this exercise as the “Flat Back” – but “Reach” is a much better name because that’s what you’ll be doing: reaching and lengthening…


What’s it good for?

  • Strengthens the whole of the abdominal muscles, the spinal muscles, the hip flexors, the shoulder and increases shoulder mobility.


Related exercises?

  • Stomach Massage “Hands Back” & “Reach”
  • Short Box Abdominals on the Ladder Barrel.




Reformer Short Box Series: Quick “how tos” …

  • Springs = all
  • Repetitions = x6-10
  • Headrest = down
  • Footrest = down


The Set Up

To avoid repetition the standard set up for short box series can be found here.

  • Hold the bar slightly wider than shoulder width with your hands slightly pulling away from each other.
  • Your arms are stretched overhead. How high overhead your arms go depends on your shoulder mobility.


The Short Box: Reach aka Flat Back – “how to”

  • Pull your abdominals inwards and upwards.
  • Begin by tipping your pelvis backwards whilst keeping your spine in one long stable line.
  • Only lean backwards as far as you can whilst maintaining this long line.

Inhale: sniff before moving
Exhale: on hinging backwards
Inhale: at the limit of movement
Exhale: to return

Hints and Tips

  • If your head lowers  or your rib cage begins to move outwards and upwards, you are holding your arms too high overhead.
  • Before leaning backwards your eyes look straight ahead to the wall in front. As you hinge backwards, think of having paintbrush eyes that draw two vertical lines on the wall opposite as you move.
  • Keep the shape of the spine: it’s a reaching spine, not a curved back.  Don’t hinge back too far.
  • When leaning backwards think of leading with the pole and when returning think of leading with the breastbone.


Variations & Modifications

  • Instead of holding the pole, put your hands next to your hips and use the box.
  • Cross your arms over your chest as an other alternative.
  • A third alternative is to interlace your fingers and with elbows wide, press your head into your hands and your hands into your head.
  • You can substitute the bar for a rope, a towel or a Thera band.
  • Try placing the box in the long box position and place your feet on the footbar or the carriage instead of using the strap.  Lower your body only to the point where it’s possible to get back up safely without your legs lifting.



The exercise involves controlling the shearing forces going through your spine that’s how it gets stronger. Begin with very small movements and slowly over time as you get stronger make them bigger.


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