The ‘Scoop’

We have touched on what it means when Pilates teachers tell us to ‘scoop’, ‘hollow’, or ‘draw your abdominals in & up’, and how this is anatomically possible in our abdominals.

However, to really perfect your scoop you will need to have a wider understanding of the parts of the body used to scoop and the muscle functions that enable us to do so.

The ‘front scoop’ is the most familiar, and the part we have mentioned in previous posts. Your ‘abdominals’ includes a group of muscles that originate at the 5th rib and attaches down at the pubic bone:


– Rectus Abdominis (the 6 pack), superficial muscles on the front of the body that aid in forward flexion.

– External & Internal Obliques (the ‘up’ in ‘in & up’), responsible for lateral (side to side) movement and rotation in the torso.

– Transverse Abdominis (pelvic floor), these act as a stabiliser and are hard to recruit. These are the last two ‘packs’ in what is actually an 8 pack if we are speaking anatomically correct.

Other muscles which contribute on the front of the body:


– Diaphragm, which also connects in to the back of the body. We work the diaphragm in our scoop due to controlled breathing.

– Iliopsoas (Psoas major – pronounced so-as). This muscle connects all the way down to the thigh and is worked when we pull our leg up towards ourselves. This muscle is also the only muscle able to flex the lower spine.

Now for next part involved in the scoop, the back. The back scoop keeps us from hunching forwards. We use various muscles and bones on the back of the body:

4 5

Erector Spinae Group

– Spinalis; muscles connected to spine vertebrae, Longissimus; muscle deep connected to the back ribs & spine, Iliocostalis; connected to the outside of the back ribs. All which enable side bending of the body.

Transversospinalis Group

– Semispinalis Capitis; this muscle travels up the top of the spine (cervical), through the neck, in to the skull. This supports the curve in the top of the back/spine.

– Multifidi & Rotatores; short muscles connected around the spine vertebra which enable the spine to move in such rotation and lateral movement.

Many more muscles are involved on the back of the body, all which connect on to the spine vertebra or back ribs. The muscles work to relax and create a light scoop.

The last remaining component – the side scoop. Think of an hour glass figure! Muscles involved here are:

– Quadratus Lumborum; long muscle fibres attached at the hip, spine vertebra, and to the ribs.

– External and Internal Obliques, as mentioned above.

– Internal intercostals; these are the muscles in between each rib, connecting them together. Plus the Serratus muscles which lye over the ribs. Both aiding side scoop and ‘in & up’.

The muscle groups are listed for an anatomical understanding. If you can take away something from this post, know that your scoop is working all sides of the body – as we know Pilates is always more complicated, intense, and intricate than it seems! Have a practice of your scoop, feeling your muscles around the torso, and see what you discover!

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