What is the difference between your Core and your Powerhouse in Pilates?
In Pilates, the powerhouse is one of the main focus groups, from which all exercises originate. In the last few years, another term became more popular, core strength, which is widely used in the same sense as powerhouse. But, it’s important to know that both terms do not mean the same thing. To help you understand, let’s go in depth, highlighting the differences and showing what the powerhouse means for Pilates.
What is your Powerhouse?
The Powerhouse is the area between the bottom of your rib cage to a line across the hip joints in the front and to the base of the glutes (buttocks) in the back. The muscles that make up your powerhouse are your abdominals, lower back muscles, muscles around the hips, the pelvic floor and the glutes.
The muscles of the powerhouse act like a corset for the trunk – they support and stabilise the body and allow us to achieve our big moves. The powerhouse gives these big moves their dynamic strength. Joseph Pilates placed great emphasis on the powerhouse, considering it a physical centre of the body from which all Pilates movements should proceed¹. (Marguerite Ogle, 2016)
What are the core muscles?
Your core muscles are a section of your powerhouse, meaning that when you use your core, you’re using part of your powerhouse. These muscles give strength to your torso, and they include the pelvic floor, the multifidus (the muscles that shoe lace around the spine), the transversus abdominis and the diaphragm.
A strong core results in better balance and stability and makes everyday movements like reaching, turning and bending easier. Core muscles, combined with the full functionality of the powerhouse, allow for greater core stability (i.e. the ability to keep the pelvis and spine in a neutral position) and therefore, greater postural control.
How Pilates uses the powerhouse
Many Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen the powerhouse, and there is a desire to keep the powerhouse working consistently throughout each exercise. For someone who is just starting with Pilates, you need to make sure you’re using the powerhouse as soon as you start. If the powerhouse is being used appropriately, the limbs should be able to move in a more coordinated and connected manner – you will gain greater strength, stability and control of your body.
Someone who is not maintaining control of this area in a given movement, for example, arching the lower back or excessive movement of the pelvis, is said to have a weak core or demonstrates poor core stability and postural control.
Developing the powerhouse muscles in a balanced way will progress you toward true fitness the fastest.