What is the Core, and Why is It So Important to Strengthen It?

By June Scharff

In recent years the terminology

“working your core” has become

somewhat of a catch phrase.

Especially in Pilates, we talk

about strengthening the core. 

Many people may think that to

strengthen the core you should

do a great deal of stomach 

crunches. Yes, the abdominal

muscles are big players in the 

process of developing an 

awesome core.

What does core work do that plain abdominal work doesn’t do?


The core muscle groups provide support and stability to the back, hips, pelvis, and shoulders. A strong healthy core enables us to do everyday activities such as vacuuming, shopping, lifting or tying shoes with little effort, no matter your age. A strong core protects your back from injury, relieves back pain, improves pelvic floor problems such as stress incontinence, and prevents poor posture . . . Don't forget "Rockn' Abs."


It doesn’t take long for a Pilates student to realize that every exercise involves working the core muscles to some extent. Often Pilates students wonder why we do so many variations of each exercise. Well, each exercise targets the muscle groups in a slightly different way so that even the tiniest, most hidden core muscles are used and strengthened.


In short, the core consists of the abdominals, erector spinae group, diaphragm, and pelvic floor muscle groups. 


Just for fun, these are the muscles that are considered involved in your “core.”

Psoas Major and Psoas Minor

Quadratus Lumborum

Internal and External Intercostals

Serratus Posterior Superior

Serratus Posterior Inferior



Transversospinalis Group

Erector Spinae Group

Latissimus Dorsi

Teres Major

Gluteus Maximus/Medius and Minimus

Middle and Lower Trapezius

Pelvic floor muscles: Levator Ani, Coccygeus

Pectoralis Major 

Pectoralis Minior



Teres Minor


Rhomboid Major and Minor


The Diaphram

Transverse Abdominis

Internal Obliques

External Obliques

Rectus Abdominus