Pilates Index: words to know

Below you will find a list of commonly used terms within the fitness world, especially ones you find within the Pilates method.



  • Table top legs
    • From a supine position, knees bent at 90 degrees with knees stacked on top of hips, shins parallel with the floor.
  • Supine
    • On your back
  • Prone
    • On your front


  • Core 
    • All the muscles in the deep abdominal region that is responsible for functional strength and stabilization, the core includes all of the muscles in your torso, wrapping all the way around to your back including: (see lumbo-pelvic region)
      • Diaphragm
      • Pelvic Floor
      • Lumbar Multifidi
      • Transverse Abdominus
  • Abdominals
    • Set of superficial muscles including: (below) – that are visible if you practice abdominal strengthening and clean eating.
      • rectus abdominus
      • obliques
  • Rectus Abdominis 
    • The superficial muscle of the abdominal located in the front, often referred to as the ‘6-pack’.
  • Transverse abdominis
    • Front and side abdominal muscle located underneath the oblique muscle.
  • Obliques
    • Internal + external obliques are located on the sides of the abdomen and run from the hip to the rib cage.

Pertaining to the back/spine:

  • Lumbar spine
    • Lower part of your spine, (vertebrae L1-L5)
  • Cervical Spine
    • Upper Spine (into the base of your neck)
  • Thoracic Spine
    • Mid-back region of the spine
  • Neutral spine
    • “Natural” or “good” alignment of the natural curves of the spine. All movements should ideally initiate from a natural alignment of the spine.


Lumbo-pelvic region:

  • (see lumbar spine)
  • Neutral pelvis
  • Lumbar Multifidus
    • A very thin muscle deep in the spine that helps stabilize joints/vertebrae within the spine.
  • Pelvic floor
    • Muscles that control the bladder and aid in sexual function.
  • Pelvic stability
    • Referring to a connection between the core and the lumbopelvic region to aid in strength and mobility of the pelvis/lumbar spine, as well as an isolation of movement within the lower appendages.
  • Diaphragm
    • Muscle that aids in breathing, located between the mid and lower rib cage. 
  • Psoas Major
    • A long muscle connecting the lumbar spine to the pelvis and leg.
  • Psoas Minor
    • Attached to the front of the psoas major, aids in spinal flexion.


Pertaining to Movement:

  • Range of motion
    • The degree to which any one individual can perform any given exercise while maintaining the correct alignment.
  • Isometric
    • Engaging a muscle/group of muscles without movement (ex: plank)
  • Isotonic
    • Using movement exercises to engage a muscle/muscle groups
  • Abduction 
    • Movement of a limb/skeletal group away from the midline
  • Adduction
    • The movement of a limb/skeletal group towards the midline
  • Extension
    • Increasing the angle between two body parts (ex: when standing up, the knees are extending)
  • Flexion
    • Decreasing the angle between two body parts

Scapula + Shoulder Girdle

  • Shoulder girdle
  • Scapula
  • Scapular mobility
  • Rotator cuff


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