The Real Pilates Standards of Training are distinguished by our focus on 4 key elements. Your weekly assignments are designed to develop your skill in each of these areas as well as your Anatomy, History and more.


Anatomy Course Overview:

Log in to Vimeo by clicking the link below and using the password “rpttanatomy”

This is our final week of video lectures! We’re on to the “meat” (oh, I do keep myself amused) of our work - muscles! As always the information from previous weeks should help you organize this week’s info - try to think of the general layout of the skeleton and the locations and actions of the joints as you go along. Again, you’ll head to Vimeo, make your notes, and then head to canvas to answer this week’s question. Note: the muscles video is in two parts. There are links to part 1 and part 2 below.

WATCH Muscle video part 1 and part 2.

Key Concepts:

  • Smooth - Muscle tissue in organs, found in places like the digestive tract and vasculature of the body.

  • Cardiac- Muscle tissue found only in the heart

  • Skeletal (this is the one you really need to know)- Forms the muscles that move the body and connect and move the skeleton (mostly).

  • Function of skeletal muscle - To move and connect the skeleton and other structures in the body.

  • Shape and features of skeletal muscle cells - Cells are arranged roughly parallel to each other and are long in shape (some are very long), can have multiple nuclei, repeated striation (striated cells)

  • Sliding Filament Theory - Muscle contraction is accomplished through interaction of the contractile filaments within the muscle cell. Muscles contract when the actin and myosin filaments slide past one another, forming and breaking bonds along the filament surface.

  • Myosin and actin filaments

    • Contractile filaments/ contractile apparatus

  • Rowing analogy

    • Rowers move boats through water by planting the oars in the water and pulling the boat forward through the resistance of the water and its connection to the oar. Catch, Drive, Release and Recovery are the phases of a row. Myosin filaments extend and “catch” the water of the actin filament. The myosin filaments then “drive” back, pulling the actin filament. The myosil filaments then “release” the actin filaments and “recover” their original position.

Types of skeletal muscle contractions

  • Tonic  

    • Slight but sustained contraction (like maintaining posture)

  • Phasic

    • Intermittent (as opposed to sustained) contraction. There are 2 types of phasic contraction

  • Isometric

    • Tension increases (the muscle contracts) but the same overall muscle length is maintained.

  • Isotonic

    • Muscle shortens against a constant load to produce movement

Muscle fiber vs muscle fascicle - Muscle fiber is another way of describing a muscle cell, a muscle fascicles are bundles of cells surrounded by connective tissue called perimysium

Deep Fascia / compartments - Tissue that surrounds groups of muscles, creating a compartment. Muscles that are in the same compartment have similar functions, innervations and blood supply

Line of Pull - The direction of force exerted by a muscle

Fiber orientation to line of pull

  • Parallel vs. Oblique

    • Parallel arrangement offers greater RANGE of contraction (i.e. rectus abdominus)

    • Oblique arrangement offers greater FORCE of contraction

Strap Muscle - Shaped like a strap or a belt, fibers run longitudinally to contraction direction (parallel muscle type)

Fusiform (spindle shaped) Muscle - Wider and cylindrical in the center, narrower at ends (parallel muscle type)

Pennate (feather shaped) Muscle- Fibers run at an angle to force-generating axis or line of pull (parallel muscle type)

Triangular Muscle - Fibers run oblique and parallel to the line of pull

Spiral Muscle Fibers run oblique to line  of pull

Ways muscle attaches to bone

  • Plate

  • Tendon

  • Aponeurosis

“Rule” of how muscles produce motion at joints  - Motion produced by a muscle at a particular joint is determined by the motions permitted at the joint and the position of the muscle relative to the join


  • Give 2 examples each of isometric and isotonic contractions in the intermediate Reformer system. Isometric: the knees, spine and hips in footwork IV, everything but the shoulder in long stretch and down stretch. Isotonic:  the knees and hips in footwork I-III, hamstring curls

  • Can you think of an exercise (or two!) that incorporate both?  

  • “Line of Pull” is a part of what dictates what actions a given muscle can produce. There are lines of pull within the body, but can you describe the “line of pull” in relation to the springs on the cadillac? Line of pull also refers to the axis of force generated by a muscle, or the direction of movement produced by a contraction. By that same token, the “line of pull” of the springs on the cadillac is the direction or axis of resistance the springs provide.


    The Wall: Chair begins with Isotonic movement, pauses at the bottom for an Isometric exercise and then becomes Isotonic. In the Advanced system, the Mountain Climber on the Wunda Chair is a great demonstration of simultaneous isotonic and isometric movements in one exercise.

  • Share two cues (either that you are already using or new ones) that speak to these two different kind of contractions without using the terms “isometric” and “isotonic”? Isometric: create tension in your arms/legs/etc, press longer into the springs. Isotonic: move the carriage/spring/pedal, pull your knees in

  • How about Tonic and Phasic contractions? What kind of cue would you use for these? Tonic: draw your abdominals in to grow taller, sit tall Phasic: pump vigorously, push hard.