AActivating your core is key to many Pilates moves, but actually finding and firing those core muscles can feel like something you’re looking for when you don’t even know it.

But there’s an easy way to set up your Pilates routine for success, and that’s to get back to the basics. Namely, doing Pilates table top legs correctly.

“It may not look like much,” says Chloe DeWinter, founder of Go Chloe Pilates. However, “when you do your Pilates table top correctly, you feel a lot more activation through your core muscles and your abdominal muscles, and it feels great.”

Not to be confused with the table top position in yoga where you’re on your hands and knees, Pilates involves lying on your back with table top legs, your feet in the air above your hips and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. This is the starting point for many Pilates moves, such as leg and arm taps and extensions, roll-ups, and more.

De Winter says the move is “simple” but deceptively clever because there are so many ways to go wrong. “Small adjustments are really going to make you feel a lot better and a lot stronger at the top of your table,” he said. Here are his three big pieces of advice:

1. Find a neutral spine

To get that core activation, you’ll want to make sure your lower back is in that Goldilocks position: not overly arched and not too flat, but with just a slight curve. DeWinter says imagine creating enough space for a blueberry under your back and then coming up through the front of your core (not arching your back further).

2. Align knees over hips

You can ensure good form and activation by keeping your knees above your hips, not too far apart or too close together.

3. Don’t pull your shoulders up

Finally, keep your head, neck and shoulders relaxed. The work should come from your core, not a strained upper body.

If you follow these three tips, your table top—and your Pilates practice—will be sure to be sturdy and supportive.

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