Pilates reformer

Finding Your Full Athletic Potential by Training Your Core Through Pilates

Working your core means more than sculpting a perfectly cut midsection. For the athlete, core work means intense strength training that protects you from injury, increases your mobility, endurance, and control, and adds power and explosiveness to your athletic movements.

Because athletes are always looking for an edge over the competition, seriously training your core can add the strength, power, and endurance you need to outperform your competitors, but if you’re following traditional workouts, you’re limiting your performance. If you’re doing crunches or other exercises that are considered “core work” and just tacking these movements onto the beginning or end of a workout a few times a week, you’re not getting the most out of your core work.

This post explores how Pilates offers a more effective core workout compared to traditional ones and how practicing Pilates can help you compete at a higher level. So if you want to see how to tap your full athletic potential, check out the info in this post and add workouts on a Pilates reformer into your training regimen.

Pilates reformer

Working Your Core Fully with Pilates

Competitive athletes know that their core is important, but if you understand how your core powers your movement, you might better understand how efficient core workouts should be integrated into movements that engage all the muscles in your core. No matter what sport you compete in, your skill performance can improve with focused core training on a Pilates reformer.

When you think of your core, you probably think of ripped abs, but your core consists of several muscles, some of which you don’t see in the much-desired six-pack. In fact, your core uses 29 pairs of muscles from your abdominal region, side, and back, and while depending on the movement, you might use one group more than the other, your core acts as an integrated unit. Your core is the foundation of all your physical movements.

Traditional strength training has been effective at increasing strength, but regardless of how much you lift in the gym, strength training must be multi-planar to translate that strength to actual physical movement in your sport. All sports need power, fueled by strength, to transfer to the end of your limbs so that you can transfer that power to another object. From fending off a defensive line to slamming a basketball in the hoop or kicking a soccer ball, sports require power to force other objects at the end of your limbs to do something.

However, building strength by doing crunches and curls means you lose power in that transfer. You need an integrated approach to strength training, an approach that integrates your core into all the movements. Your core is the fulcrum for every movement you make, and your limbs are the levers. Like any good fulcrum, if your core isn’t stable and strong, then the levers will lose stability and power.

Your core is the hub for your athletic movements, and weakness in any of those 29 pairs of muscles means you’re losing power and falling short of your true potential. To combat a weak core, many athletes dedicate part of their training to isolated core movements, and while this helps to strengthen the core, without dynamic, multi-planar training, they still aren’t tapping their full potential when it comes to transferring that strength into power for explosive movements against other forces in competition.

Pilates can offer athletes the fully integrated core workout they need to reach their potential. While you may find other workouts and methods that tout core-strengthening benefits, Pilates offers more than just strength for your core. With Pilates, you get the following benefits to your core and core workout:

  • Target all the muscles in your core: Your core uses 29 pairs of muscles, and isolated core training works just a few at a time. All of your deep core muscles that are difficult to reach through traditional, isolated movements are targeted through a Pilates workout.
  • Increase your stability and power in competition: Those deep core muscles you strengthen through a Pilates workout are the muscles dedicated to offering stability around your core and pelvis. This area acts as the fulcrum for your athletic movements, so the more you increase your strength and stability in this area, the more powerful your movements will be.
  • Transfer more power: With powerful movements, the more power you can translate through the end of your limbs. Whether kicking, hitting, jumping, or performing any athletic movement, the more power you can transfer to the end of your limbs, the more power you’ll transfer to a ball, defensive line, or any other object you’re attempting to transmit force to.
  • Work out efficiently: Pilates offers an efficient workout, something every busy athlete needs. Every athlete has a finite amount of time to train, and you have to balance that training with drills and sport-specific training as well as strength training. So if you can use a workout that overlaps your needs, especially one that focuses intensely on all 29 pairs of your core muscles, then you can train more efficiently.
  • Use your core for every movement: The efficiency of a Pilates workout relates to how you use your core muscles for every movement. Instead of isolating your core muscles outside of other strength-training exercises, Pilates incorporates your core into every single movement. So while you work on your strength and flexibility for other parts of your body, you simultaneously strengthen your core and increase your ability to stabilize your core and fuel powerful movement in competition.

Pilates reformer

How Pilates Offers Extra Benefits to Athletes

Although a Pilates reformer workout for athletes offers the best path to tapping your core’s full potential, you can gain even more benefits from Pilates that will give your performance an edge. From Pilates workouts, you can expect to

  • Work neglected muscles: When you train for your sport, every drill and every exercise in the weight room is designed for your sport. However, some muscles, especially your core, get neglected in these focused movements. Using Pilates, you can ensure that you’re also strengthening neglected muscles that power your core and add balance and stability to your movements.
  • Get focused training on recovery days: Pilates is the best workout for days when you’re recovering from intense workouts. Often for elite athletes, a recovery day offers some slight cardio or flexibility work that does little to complement their sport-specific training. However, you can effectively continue training on recovery days with a Pilates reformer and work out in a sport-specific manner. You can target specific muscle groups and safely perform an intense, full-body workout while in recovery.
  • Train when injured: Injured athletes often find themselves doing mindless cardio like riding a bike or kicking in a pool when they are recovering from an injury, but Pilates is often used in physical therapy. A perfect workout while recovering from an injury or surgery, a reformer can be used to continue to keep you in shape because you can modify your workout to avoid further injury while effectively working out. As you progress, you can continue modifying your movements until you’re back to your regular training regimen.
  • Reduce your risk of injury: A key benefit to practicing Pilates is its ability to reduce your risk of injury. Many athletic injuries are due to some sort of imbalance. When your body isn’t balanced in strength or in its movement, you then rely on other muscles and joints to overcompensate. These types of imbalances lead to injury, which leads to you being out of competition. But with Pilates, you give yourself a chance to not only train your muscles in a balanced way, strengthening them evenly, but you also increase your body’s balance and stability. So when you run drills or perform in your sport, your better balance and stability protect the important joints and cushions that keep you from injury.
  • Gain great flexibility and mobility: Long gone are the days when people think only athletes like gymnasts need great flexibility and mobility. These days, elite athletes understand that flexibility and mobility are keys to athletic performance. Each day, whether training or competing, flexibility and mobility allow athletes to enjoy a greater range of motion safely, especially when adding load to their movements, like in strength training.

Your core is the center for all your athletic movements. Strengthening your core can’t simply be an add-on workout or a quick session done with isolated movements at the end of the day. Core training integrated into movement should be as much of a priority as sport-specific drills if you want to increase your competitiveness and gain more power in your movement, power you can transfer to whatever you’re swinging, hitting, or moving with your limbs. Pilates reformer workouts for athletes offer the best, most efficient way to train all of your core muscles, effectively work out on recovery days, recover from injury, and efficiently train to be more competitive for your sport.

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