Exercise of the Month: Standing Side Splits

standingsidesplitsSTANDING SIDE SPLITS

When I first learned of this exercise years ago, I was immediately met with resistance in my own thought. “Splits… I haven’t been able to do that since I was little! Cross this exercise off the list for me.” However, I soon learned that it is not as intimidating as it might sound. If you have been to a reformer class or had any private instruction, it is likely that you have given this exercise a whirl, as it is an incredibly effective exercise.

How to do Standing Side Splits:

  • Stand on the reformer facing one side (Use caution when getting on. Always step onto the platform before the carriage since the carriage will move).
  • Place one foot on the platform and one on the carriage. (The closer to the shoulder blocks your foot is, the more challenging the exercise will be).
  • Find a neutral spine and pelvis.
  • Reach arms out to sides thinking length – palms down or facing forward.
  • Maintaining neutral pelvis and spine and keeping weight evenly distributed on both feet, press legs evenly away from midline to move the carriage out.
  • Draw the legs back together by bringing the carriage back to the platform using control.


  • Strengthen leg and hip muscles
  • Improve posture, balance and coordination
  • Improve core stability as well as lumbopelvic stability
  • Strengthens adductors


  • Some variations would be the placement of the feet (i.e. try a wider stance and external rotation of the feet).
  • For added arm workout, grab some light hand weights and get the arms involved.
  • When bringing the carriage in, think about lifting up through the pelvic floor and abdominals rather than just bringing you legs back to the starting position.
  • If your foot on the carriage is slipping, use grippy socks (sold at Pilates in East) or add a sticky pad to the carriage before placing your foot in place.


  • Anyone with sacroiliac joint problems or knee injuries should use caution – limiting range of motion.
  • Anyone with balance problems should use caution (always let your instructor know if you aren’t feeling comfortable) since this is a standing exercise on the reformer.
  • Prenatal clients perform with caution.

One of the great features of the reformer is that, with a simple change in spring weight, you can work a different muscle performing almost exercise. Standing side splits is a great example of such benefit. When adding springs, the resistance is greater and the focus shifts to the abductors. Depending on the resistance, it will be helpful to move the foot on the carriage closer to the edge in order to have something to push off of.

We look forward to having you into the studio to give this exercise a try! See you soon at Pilates in East!

**For current class schedule at Pilates in East, click here

***As with all exercises programs, please consult with your physician and know your limitations prior to starting a new workout regimen.***

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