The term T-Zone refers to the activation of two muscles, the transversus abdominus and the pelvic floor. We call this activation T-Zone, because when we activate these two muscles, we visualise a capital letter “T” drawn on the front of the pelvis. The vertical line of the T represents the pelvic floor muscles drawing up, and the horizontal line of the T represents the transversus abdominus drawing across and in.
Before we perform any movement in Pilates, it is vital that the T-Zone is activated. It is the basis of every exercise we do, and must be activated prior to commencing each exercise and held throughout the exercise. It is therefore imperative to practice this activation before moving on to any other exercises.
If you have previously attended Pilates classes, you may not have come across the term T-Zone. For example, in some Pilates classes, you may have heard the instructor mention instead to “draw the belly button to the spine,” “scoop or hollow the abdominals” or simply “tighten the core.” Such descriptions are not incorrect, however they are not as specific and do not describe correct abdominal activation as effectively as the concept of T-Zone.
The concept of T-Zone was not developed by Joseph Pilates himself, but rather is a more recent addition to Pilates terminology. The term T-Zone has been adopted by some Pilates schools as an improved way of teaching clients correct abdominal activation, based on the latest scientific research. The T-Zone is what we use in Studio Pilates classes.
Why It Is Important
As well as being a clearer overall cue, the benefit of using the T-Zone reference is that it allows your Studio Pilates instructors to cue first the Pelvic Floor activation, and then add on the Transversus Abdominus activation. It has been shown in many studies that activating the pelvic floor first improves the activation of the transversus abdominus, helping you perform your workouts more effectively.
When the T-Zone is activated correctly, it stabilises the pelvis and lower back. Specifically, it will prevent the pelvis from rocking or rotating side to side and it will draw the hip bones toward each other. A strengthened T-Zone flattens the abdominal wall, drawing the stomach in.