If you’ve ever practised Pilates, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘powerhouse’. It’s a name for the muscle groups that make us strong from the inside, and it includes our glutes and abdominal muscles. The powerhouse is part of everything we do in everyday life and gives us better posture – and a flat stomach!

If you work all day in front of a computer screen, I can guarantee you that your powerhouse is not working optimally. You’ve stopped moving and you’re sitting for long hours – let me just give you one example of how much we sit during the day: after a night in bed, we sit at the breakfast table, sit on the way to work and then sit at our desk. We take a break to sit down for lunch and then sit at our desks again. We sit on the way home from work and then have dinner – sitting down. Then we lie down on the sofa before going back to bed. Not a lot of activity, is it? As unbelievable as it sounds, that’s a typical day for lots of us.

See also: Plank guide, part 3: Static vs dynamic planks

It’s also easy to lose strength in your abdominal muscles and glutes after pregnancy. This may be due to a lack of physical activity, but also because the body’s biomechanics change due to the shifting centre of gravity. We carry our baby in front of the body and the front of our thighs work extra hard while our buttocks ‘drop’. Lots of women end up front-thigh dominant because of this.

Having a well-trained powerhouse is not just about looks. How strong you feel physically in your everyday life depends to a large extent on how strong your powerhouse is. Below are some of the benefits of having a strong powerhouse:

‘Weight loss’

It’s not uncommon to receive emails from women who say they want to lose 3–5 kg. I look at the pictures … but there’s no weight to lose. Usually all they need to do is strengthen their abs and glutes and work on their posture and – ta-da! – the 3–5 kg disappear without any change to the scales.

Better posture
By strengthening your abs and glutes, you will arch your back less and therefore reduce the forward tilt of your pelvis, giving you a stronger and straighter posture. This also helps to correct imbalances between different muscles (e.g. between the front and back of the body).

Injury prevention
A strong powerhouse means less pain in the lower back, the back of the thighs, the knees and – believe it or not – the shoulders.

Physical improvements
Rounder buttocks and a change in the ratio of fat to muscle in your body – that comes as a bonus! If you enjoy running, having a strong powerhouse will make you a better runner.

Increased quality of life
With a strong powerhouse, everyday life feels easier and quality of life improves. This improves your sex life and helps you stay strong as you get older.

Every activity we do is done using our powerhouse: walking, jumping, climbing stairs, getting up from a chair … An inactive lifestyle leads to hip flexors that are too short, and as soon as they become too short, the activity of the glutes decreases and you get pain in your lower back, hips and knees as well as feeling like you are stiff and lacking in mobility. Short hip flexors can be the reason why your buttocks don’t develop – even if you already exercise a lot.