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How To Avoid a Belly Bulge in Roll Down on the Reformer

When you add Roll Down on the Reformer to your routine, you can enjoy the benefits of improved spinal flexion, lengthened hip flexors, and strong abdominals.

This exercise is all about scooping, hollowing, and drawing "navel to spine". All the classic Pilates cues can be used here.  

A common mistake is to overuse the rectus abdominis which creates the belly bulge effect. We want to avoid this because it compresses the spine and reduces axial length. It's much easier said than done to stay tall and elongated when rounding our spine. We all want to collapse, don't we?

Try these tips to help avoid bulging the belly:

  • After you roll back and hold that position, think about dropping your ribs to deepen your abdominal scoop. Resist with your tailbone as you return to the starting position.
  • Pull your navel through your spine and keep your belly back on the way up.
  • Lengthen the back of your head up as you push your tailbone forward (in opposition).
  • Teachers, place your hand against your student’s low belly to remind your student to hollow the abdominal wall.
  • Do you still notice the belly pushing outward? Use heavier springs and/or keep your arms bent in a bicep curl to assist your abdominals.


Are you going to practice or teach Roll Down this week? What are your favorite tips for this exercise? 

The Reformer chapter is live! Have you checked it out, yet? In the Pilates Encyclopedia, we look at every detail of Roll Down, from head to toe, to help you get the maximum benefit from this exercise.


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