The great thing about Pilates is that EVERY Pilates exercise helps you towards building a strong and stable core. This is why Pilates has become synonymous with core strength and stability. However, it has to be said that we have a few favourite exercises to gain core strength, as some Pilates moves allow for a deeper core contraction than others in our opinion.
Please find our top 3 Pilates exercises for a strong core below:
Pilates 100 position
We have to list the Pilates 100 position first in our list of top moves for a strong core. In this exercise, you lie on your back and hold your neutral position, which means there is a slight gap between the lumbar spine and the mat. It allows you to really feel the connection with your core, because if you don’t switch on your Transversus Abdominis (which is the belly-button to spine pull in we always talk about) when you have your knees over the hips, you will feel a pinch in your lower back as you are hyper-extending the spine. In addition to a great core connection, this exercise allows you to progress by simply taking the knees further away from your hips, slowly working towards straight legs. Just be aware, as soon as you feel a pinch or you feel your lower back pulling away from the floor, you have lost your neutral alignment and you need to re-adjust your position.
Pilates Leg Pull Prone, known as Plank
The plank is a fantastic core exercise and it definitely deserves to be second place in our list of top Pilates exercises for a strong core. Now, the key to a good plank IS having a great core connection, but unfortunately this often gets missed when you attend exercise classes that are not Pilates. So, let us set the record straight: to do a perfect plank, you have to bring your belly button towards the spine on the outbreath (and if you get really good, lift your pelvic floor at the same time). You are working against gravity; if you don’t switch on your ‘belly button to spine muscle’ (TA) then your tummy area will hang like a hammock and actually stretch, rather than shorten. So, hold your static plank position, breathe and connect with your core… you will feel the difference, instantly! If it’s too hard for now, don’t forget you can always do a plank on the fleshy bit of your knees, creating a diagonal line from your shoulders towards your knees.
The Pilates Teaser can be very advanced, but there are so many modifications we can make that there is a version of the Pilates Teaser that works for every level. The basic set up if the same though; in general, your legs are off the mat (they can be bent or straight) and you create a V-like shape with your upper body and thighs. The key here is that to keep your balance and strength in this position, you really have to connect with your core, so you are looking for a slight tilt in the pelvis allowing you to create that deep abdominal scoop, hugging your abs deep into the body. Initially, this position is very tricky for people who are new to Pilates and if you feel you can’t hold it, then you can place your hands behind your thighs for a little support. Try and keep the shoulders open and don’t hunch… it’s easily done, so roll your shoulders back and imagine you are pinching a tennis ball between the shoulder blades as this will help you to keep a neutral alignment in the shoulder girdle.
The 7 Day Kalm Pilates Challenge
Want to get a strong core? Join me for a 7 DAY PILATES CHALLENGE. It’s a great introduction to the power of Pilates and I’ll show you the best Pilates exercises for a strong, flexible and balanced body – and how to get abs of steel!
Find out more about this here: https://kalmpilates.com/sign-up/