Understanding the Pilates Powerhouse

The Powerhouse Goes Beyond Core Strength

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Pilates. HagerPhoto / Stockbyte / Getty Images

The powerhouse is one of the most important concepts in Pilates training. In recent years, the term core strength, has become more well-known and is used somewhat interchangeably with powerhouse, but they are not exactly the same. Let's explore the differences and what powerhouse means in Pilates.

What is the Powerhouse in Pilates?

The powerhouse area of your body goes from the bottom of your ribs all the way to your hip line.

It includes the abdominal muscles, low back muscles, pelvic floor, muscles around the hips, and the glutes (butt muscles).

Powerhouse muscles work together to form a supportive corset for your trunk. They stabilize, but they also create the big moves we make. And they give those moves their dynamic strength. Joseph Pilates emphasized this area of the body in the program of training he designed. All Pilates move start in the powerhouse.

What are the Core Muscles?

The core muscles are part of the powerhouse set, and using your core is part of using your powerhouse. The core muscles are the deep stabilizers like the pelvic floor, the psoas, the multifidus, and the transversus abdominis, among others.

But the core muscles are not the big movers like the rectus abdominis or glutes, that we add to the group when we talk about the powerhouse. The gluteus maximus not only is used in powerful movement that require hip extension (jumping, stair climbing) but it also is a muscle that helps create a posterior pelvic tilt.

This postural component is important in achieving the neutral pelvic position used in Pilates. Traditional Pilates taught to use a butt squeeze to engage the glutes in the powerhouse.

Using the Powerhouse in Pilates

Pilates beginners need to think in terms of using the powerhouse right away. It is the powerhouse that gives us the energy, stability, strength, and control to move into the intermediate and advanced Pilates exercises.

Developing the powerhouse muscles in a balanced way will progress you toward true fitness the fastest.

Put your Powerhouse to Work with these Pilates Workouts

  • 20 Core Minutes of Pilates:This intermediate-level powerhouse workout is done with an exercise ball (and options if you don't have one handy). It strengthens the core stability muscles and the powerhouse with 10 exercises.
  • Level 2 Stretch and Strength Series: Not only do these 10 exercises build abdominal strength, they also stretch the back, the sides, the front of the body and the hamstrings. Keep your powerhouse strong and supple. It is an intermediate-level powerhouse workout.
  • Classical Pilates Mat Exercise Series: This is the traditional first 10 mat exercises as developed by Joseph Pilates. They were designed from the inception to challenge the powerhouse.

Now that you know more about the powerhouse, you can nod with understanding when your Pilates instructor tosses the term about.

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