That buzz word…CORE
Pilates works your ‘core’,
..it’s all about the abs right?
Your core is much more 3 dimensional than one may think and is actually a term used to collectively describe a group of muscles..
Visualise a cylinder starting around the area of your sternum and ending at the bottom of your pelvis.
Sure, a key muscle of the core, is the Transversus Abdominis. The deepest muscle of the abdominal wall, which attaches in the spine at the back and runs around and meets together at the front; the fibres run horizontally, creating a corset like effect.
But we also have at the back your Multifidi (deepest spinal muscles)
At the 'roof', your Diaphragm (main breathing muscle) which is shaped like a parachute,
And at the ‘floor’, your Pelvic Floor, the muscle that sits at the base of your pelvis.
A strong core protects your lower back and internal organs and provides stability and support for the rest of the body, improving posture.
Pilates is extremely effective in working your core because it includes every aspect of core training. It targets every single muscle group in the core (not just the outer layer of abs). It both strengthens and lengthens the core muscles and moves us in multiple angles and ranges of motion. Plus, Pilates offers a huge variety of exercises in which to achieve these goals, so in each class, you'll get something different every time.
When it comes to training your core, there is a right way and wrong way to do it..
If you think of crunches when you think of working your abs, you're not alone. Crunches are a great way to target the abs, but there are more effective ways to train! For one, crunches mainly work just one of the muscle groups in your core: the rectus abdominis (most superficial abdominal layer). And they only work it from one angle.
So with different positions, moving in different planes and targeting much deeper..one can build up their core strength without having to do a single crunch! Great news!
There is no need to do 50, 100 or thousands of repetitions. Many people think the more the better.. but I say quality over quantity. If you are doing your exercises correctly, 8-12 repetitions are all that you need to target those muscles and get results. Otherwise fatigue will set in and the body will start relying on the more dominant, superficial muscles to do the work and the core will end up having a holiday..pointless.
The key to really working your abs is to focus on your form, by deeply engaging your abs throughout each movement. This is commonly described as "pulling your navel towards your spine," or "scooping" the abs inward and it will help you engage more muscle fibres (especially the transverse abs), making each repetition more effective. You want to make sure that you don’t ‘dome’ your abs upwards when contracting as you miss out the deeper connection and train the muscles badly. Mentally focusing on the muscles you're trying to engage during any exercise actually does make a difference in how well you execute the move.
Raise your own awareness!!!
Try to think about your abs more during the day.
You'll sit taller, help strengthen that deep abdominal muscle, and perform better all around!