Why core strength training relies on instability

my_first_pilates_workout_watchdogWhether using balls, BOSUs or balance discs, athletic trainers and personal trainers alike know that instability is the key to training the core.

The deep muscles of the core are involuntary muscles that engage automatically when subjected to instability.  In other words, one can go through a lengthy traditional workout involving elaborate weight machines, free weights, etc., but unless instability is introduced into the training regime, the core musculature may not be targeted at all.

Given the right cues by a qualified trainer, one can learn to activate his/her core musculature in traditional abdominal work.  For instance, most Pilates mat exercises do not involve instability (unless you’re doing Pilates on a boat), but you can activate the core by deliberately engaging the muscles of the pelvic floor.  (Think “kegel exercises” if you are not familiar with the term “pelvic floor muscles.”)  Activating the pelvic floor triggers the deepest abdominal muscle, the transversus abdominis, to fire.

good-for-website-4Another key core stabilizing muscle is the multifidus.  The multifidus is comprised of a series of short fibers that act as scaffolding for the spine.  The exercise shown above, the “Watchdog“, targets the multifidus because the spine is challenged to remain straight and NOT rotate as opposite arm and leg lift.  Almost anyone who has ever been to physical therapy for a back injury has been given this exercise because it targets the multifidus.

Keep checking back for more information on this unique muscle and the exercises that strengthen it!  In the meantime, if you just can’t wait, try our “Get on the Ball“, “Meet your Core” and “Small Ball Toning Workouts” on www.ultimatepilatesworkouts.com as all provide ways to introduce instability into your workout and target your multifidus!


March 3, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings.

One Comment

  1. ariak replied:


    Great posting!!
    I am a trainer that develops core training equipment in line with the ‘instability’ methodology (called Akrowheels if you are interested). I’ve consulted with several Pilates instructors and I agree with all your points above. Particularly in that instability training recruits more muscles, in a smarter way and in less time.
    Anyway keep up the great work and distributing the important message about core training with Pilates!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback URI

%d bloggers like this: