Building a Strong Core With Pilates

A vital part of the fitness package these days is core strength and flexibility. But, what is core strength and how do we get it?

In the past five years, there has been a growing interested in learning techniques in resistance or weight training, aimed at stabilizing and strengthening the core. It turns out that a strong core is more important than we ever realized.

The muscles of the core are those of the pelvis, spine, shoulders, and abdominals. There is not a human movement that is done that does not involve the muscles of the core, which stabilize the spine and move the body throughout its various tasks. If these muscles are weak, each movement becomes more laborious, causing the posture to degrade and an increased restriction of the muscles.

The core muscles are the catalyst that transfers energy from large muscle groups to smaller ones in the body. Pilates trains the body by mimicking the twisting and turning that occur with everyday chores and movements. If you properly train your core muscles, you can reduce the risk of injury while increasing strength along these same muscles for when you need them during the day.

In addition to strengthening the core muscles, Pilates helps to develop the platform for the actions of the arm, shoulders, and leg muscles. Pilates is an effective way to stabilize the core by developing core strength.

The core muscle themselves are made up of the muscles of the trunk and pelvis, the deep abdominal muscles that protect the spine, the oblique abdominals that run alongside the abdomen, the erector muscle, located in the lower back, and the muscles of the hips and pelvis. Just because you have a "six-pack," it doesn't necessarily mean that you have a strong or stable core. Some of the most important muscles to good core development actually lie just beneath the six-pack. These muscles, with the erector muscles, help you to maintain your balance and have good posture throughout your active day.

The first and most important aim of core strengthening with Pilates is in its performance of exercises that mimic everyday movements, but that isolate specific muscle groups while balancing and strengthening the core. The Pilates exercise program emphasizes using diagonal, rotating movements that promote balance and strength. Equipment such as balance beams, wobble boards, foam rollers, and fit balls are used while sitting or standing, but balancing all the while. The very best core exercises in the program involve moving while balancing one one leg, or shifting from one leg to the other, while performing the exercises.

However, Pilates is not the only way of strengthening the core muscles of the trunk, back, or pelvis. Using a variety of core exercises will better target the area. Some of the best ones are, of course, Pilates, sit ups or crunches, fitness ball exercises, and resistance exercises which use the dead lift, squat, and lunges. Another great type of exercise to strengthen the core uses the medicine ball, throwing overhead to a partner, or using a side pass, and other various exercises. Any of the balancing exercises using a wobble board, balance beam, or foam roller are also good for developing the muscles of the core. If you have access to any of this equipment, you can add these exercises to your Pilates routine and condition your core faster.

Trainers and enthusiasts alike have made Pilates core training part of their weekly exercise routines. Many experts in the field have said that you should not go through an entire week without some sort of core training, whether Pilates or something else.