If you’ve tried it, you know It’s impossible to do a squat or a deadlift without engaging your core. If you haven’t, maybe it’s something you haven’t thought about-- but a strong core is key for achieving a strong compound lift, overall strength training, and preventing injury while doing it.
The key to staying fit (and not injured) is a strong transverse abdominis (TVA).
It’s the deepest layer of ab muscle that starts next to the spine and wraps around the body like a corset. It holds our organs in place and supports our posture all day long. When it’s not engaged or working properly, we get into trouble.
That’s where Pilates comes in. Pilates, by far, is the most solid way I have ever found to strengthen the TVA.
Every exercise strengthens and lengthens whatever muscles you are using (you’ve probably heard that before, *wink wink*). But, every exercise also targets one key muscle: the TVA. It’s active to stabilize the hips and ribs, and keep our posture aligned as we challenge the strength in our limbs and balance. It’s at the center of things when we practice stabilizing one thing and mobilizing another.
For our quadriceps and hamstrings to function and find that perfect counterbalance of tension to explode upward against the heavy weight we load, our TVA has to engage to hold the hips still. If the TVA is holding our posture in place, every other muscle can work the way it was designed. An individual with a stronger TVA may be able to lift a considerably higher amount of weight than someone who struggles with core strength and stability.
An extra 25 pounds for my deadlift? Bring it on… after my Pilates class.
By Erin Lovrien, Club Pilates Master Trainer.