Abs Vs Core: Why The Difference Matters

Hi!  I'm Alyssa!

 I do Pilates, I teach Pilates & I teach you to teach Pilates.  I'm a ballet dancer turned Pilates Instructor and I've been teaching Pilates for over 11 years. 

Get To Know Me


Work with Me

My Favorite Resources

Heal Your Hips Program



Healthy Hips


Teaching Tips

Contrary to popular belief, the terms abs and core are not interchangeable and refer to different things.

When most people hear the words “strong core”, they immediately picture someone with a 6-pack, but that is only a small part of what it means to have a strong core. In fact, you don’t need to have a visible 6-pack at all to have a strong core! But with the world we live in, most people are focused on the aesthetic goals of having flat abs with the visible definition of a 6-pack and so they only focus on strengthening their abdominals by performing repetitive crunches, but there is such much more that goes into it than that!

Let’s go deeper into the anatomy of the body, because it will only help you as you go through your exercises!

The Abdominals

There are 4 layers of abdominals that connect the pelvis to the ribcage, and they all do different things. It is a common belief that the abdominals are only in the front of the body because most people only think about the “6-pack” muscle, but the abdominals actually wrap all the way around the body!

  • The Rectus Abdominus –the 6 Pack muscle. It spans from the sternum and ribs all the way down to the pubic bone. This muscle primarily creates spinal flexion. Think of a crunch or sit-up movement.
  • The Internal & External Obliques – the muscles that run diagonally across the abdomen. These muscles create flexion, rotation, and also help you side-bend.
  • The Transversus Abdominus – the deepest abdominal muscle that is shaped just like a corset. This muscle is your main support system and won’t move the spine. Visualize having saran wrap, wrapped around your stomach for support. If you are a lover of the show ‘Dexter’, that visual will work perfectly!

It is of course important to have strong abdominals, but no part of the body ever works alone. Only performing crunches will leave your body imbalanced, and susceptible to injury, which is why focusing on core strength will give you better results.


What is the Core?

Without even bringing anatomy into the picture yet, what comes to mind when you think of core? How would you define it?

Core can be defined as the most important, or central part of anything. A synonym to core is fundamental. That is exactly what you should think of when you hear the word ‘core’ in reference to your body and your workouts.

Your core, sometimes referred to as your powerhouse, is composed of several different groups of muscles that all work in unison to stabilize and support the spine throughout everything that you do – the abdominals being one of the main muscle groups. You also have:

  • The Pelvic Floor– a group of hammock shaped muscles that sit inside the base of the pelvis and support the organs from below.
  • Deep Spinal Stabilizers & Erector Spinae – the muscles that run along the spine and help you stand up straight, rotate, and extend your spine.
  • Diaphragm- You can’t breathe without using your Diaphragm! This dome-shaped muscle sits inside the rib cage, underneath the lungs and divides the torso in half. Visualize it like an open umbrella. In order to breathe, your ribs have to be able to open and close and as a result this impacts the spine and all surrounding muscles. 
  • Glutes- Most people don’t even realize that the Glutes are part of your core, but they play a key role in supporting the pelvis and thus contribute greatly to the stability of the torso.
  • Hip Flexors- One of your main hip flexors- the Ilio-Psoas connects all 5 lumbar vertebrae to the upper part of the thigh. It plays a huge role in spinal stability!

All of the muscles in your core work together to create movement and maintain stability. A strong core helps you stand, bend over, balance, and coordinate the movement of your arms and legs. It truly is 360 degree strength.

How will Pilates help me develop core strength?

The principles of Pilates are rooted in breathing, alignment, centering, precision, and control of movement. These principles are applied to every single exercise to maximize your results.

On top of the precision, a staple of a good Pilates workout is that it incorporates all spinal movements to help restore balance in our bodies by strengthening the entire body. Our spine can flex, extend, rotate, and side-bend (laterally flex). Our lives tend to be dominated by flexion-based movements. For example, we are always sitting, hunched over our desks and phones, so we need to make sure we balance that out. If we don’t, that is when pain can creep in.

Pilates also incorporates spring/band resistance, and unilateral work to challenge the core to stabilize and resist spinal movement.

If you want to truly have a strong, resilient body that is prepared for everything that life throws at you, then you need to do more than crunches. Focus on training to create movement, but also resisting movement so that you are strong in every direction!

Are you ready to discover all of the amazing benefits of Pilates? Having a strong core is just the tip of the iceberg of the endless benefits!

Get started with the Introductory Special that you can find right HERE.

+ Show / Hide Comments

Share to:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



• About Me • About Me • About Me •

Welcome Friends

HELLo, I’m Alyssa

Movement is my life!  My biggest passion is understanding the human body and I want to share it with you! Coming from a ballet background, I'm no stranger to injuries and the struggles of rehab, but I wouldn't change a thing because they led me to find Pilates and inspired me to do what I'm doing today.  
I'm here to help you feel stronger, move better, recover from and reduce your risk of  injuries, & exceed your performance goals. 

If you love movement, anatomy and you want to laugh & enjoy your workouts, you're in the right place!

Signature program

Heal Your Hips

This is my 9 week program that will rebuild your hip health from inside out. The results speak for themselves - if you're experiencing hip discomfort, this is where to begin.

• Heal Your Hips • Heal Your Hips •

Work           Me


Virtual Private Sessions

Virtual Group Classes

Instructor Mentoring

Body • Mechanics • Pilates •

BEST      THE Blog


Teaching Tips

I wouldn’t be the instructor that I am today if I didn’t have this mentor early in my teaching career! This important lesson changed everything.