What we generally refer to today as the “core,” Joseph Pilates called the “powerhouse.” I prefer the term powerhouse because real strength comes from a strong, balanced center.
There are people who believe that “core” means only
abs, and those who think if they have a six-pack they are strong
and fit. Unfortunately, while those folks may look good today, they
are in for trouble down the road. A rectus abdominus that
is too strong can effectively weaken the back, causing pain and
poor posture later on.
The following moves will ensure that your clients balance their
stomach, back and waist strength, and that they engage their abs
from the pelvic floor and transversus abdominus. This will
provide support for their six-pack; they can have good-looking abs
and true strength from their powerhouse.
For all movements, instruct clients to engage pelvic floor,
lengthen space between ribs and hips, pull navel to spine and spine
to navel, and pull ribs together without rolling shoulders. This
will ensure that the abs, lower back and waist are all engaged.
Description: Sit on pool steps, waist deep, a
hand-width from next higher step. With legs externally rotated,
bend knees while keeping the heels together. Lace fingers together
in front of the chest and inhale. Exhale and straighten the arms
Cues: Drill sitz bones into the steps; fire down
the backside. Do not let torso collapse or move; only the limbs
Description: Sitting on pool step, waist-deep,
extend legs parallel to pool bottom with feet flexed. Keeping legs
completely stable, point one foot and lower toward the pool floor
on the exhale; inhale, flex the foot and return to start. Alternate
legs, being sure the movement of one leg is complete before
beginning the movement of the other leg. Repeat 12 round
Cues: Relay race, not scissors. Lengthen front of
the thigh when leg lowers, back of thigh when the leg raises.
Don’t lean back. Be very careful with balance-challenged
participants. Drill sitz bones into the steps; fire down the
Description: Stand in chest-deep water with feet
double-hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and pointing over the
second toe, arms extended in front of the body with the palms of
the hands together.
Engage pelvic floor; inhale, lifting the ribs off the hips while
rotating the waist to the right; exhale and return to center.
Alternate sides for 12 round trips.
Cues: Keep hips square to the front and initiate
the movement from the waist or obliques only. It is almost as if
the opposite hip is pushing back. Do not let participants lead with
the shoulders. Keep the shoulders level; do not let one shoulder
hike up during rotation Think of using the breath to elongate the
waist without allowing the shoulders to rise.
Description: Stand in shallow (thigh-deep) water,
hands on rail or wall hinged parallel to the water. Flex forward at
the hip to bring the torso parallel to the water with a neutral
spine. Abdominals must be engaged to support back; hip bones stay
square to pool bottom and the feet are underneath the hips. With
hands on the pool rail, inhale and raise right leg straight back;
lift left arm slightly, exhale and return to the start position.
Then inhale and switch sides, raising left leg and right arm.
Repeat 12 round trips.
Cues: Initiate leg movement from the crease where
the hamstrings meet the glutes. Push through the heel of the
standing leg. Do not let the back sag. Some abduction of the
standing leg may be helpful.