PILATES FOR ENDURANCE AND FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH
By: Kerrie Murphy | 29/08/2023
When people think about muscles, they usually think about muscular strength. From a strength-training perspective, lifting a heavier weight for a shorter period of time, would be considered optimal to produce muscle strength. But what about muscular endurance?
An article recently published by Dr Mike Bohl, licensed physician and medical journalist, describes muscular endurance as “the muscle’s ability to do work over a period of time without getting tired”. Being able to perform tasks for longer periods, rather than just being able to lift heavier weights, is key to building functional strength. Dr Bohl suggests this “can help with everything from playing sports to doing everyday tasks like gardening”.
This also relates to the overload principle, which states that in order for muscle to increase in size, strength and endurance, it must be regularly challenged to produce an output that is as near as possible to maximum capacity.
In the Pilates method, spring loading is perfectly adjusted to find the Goldilocks setting – not too hot and not cold. We ensure the spring is sufficiently heavy to provide challenge and feedback into the body, but also sufficiently light to allow for completing enough reps to build muscular endurance.
Not forgetting matwork Pilates – often considered the most challenging component of the method. Here the use of body weight resistance is maximised to its full potential. In all exercises within the method, a holistic approach is required – the body and mind must work cohesively as a collective. No exercise is passively isolated to one muscle group.
Dr Bohl also noted that building “muscular endurance of the core muscles—especially after 60—is also beneficial for postural stability and can help decrease the risk of falls.”
Core activation is central to the Pilates method – or what Joseph referred to as the “powerhouse”. Joseph’s idea of the powerhouse was more of a lumbo-pelvic-hip complex: a rich network of superficial and deep muscles located at the front, sides, back, top and bottom of the torso.
When correctly engaged, the powerhouse acts as stabilisers, rather than a prime mover. Strength in movement is achieved through interconnectivity, rather than isolation, thereby the body is strengthened with more control and stability. When strengthened, this network offers a solid foundation to all exercises and enables you to perform everyday activities with more ease.
“When all your muscles are properly developed, you will, as a matter of course, perform your work with minimum effort and maximum pleasure.” – Joseph Pilates.