The “Tower” is part and parcel of Joseph Pilates’ “Cadillac.” The Cadillac is the first workout apparatus that Mr. Pilates invented in his Contrology system, as the Pilates method was first named. Because of this machine’s mammoth size and many, many movement possibilities, it was considered the “Cadillac” of his inventions. He did not have the right to the Cadillac name for patenting and trademark purposes, however, as the car company already owned it! When the patent papers were drawn up, the massive but elegant 6-foot invention needed an alternative name. “Trapeze table” was chosen which became “Trap Table” colloquially. Both names are used interchangeably today, including just Cadi. I confess to even saying “Cadi-poo.” Sorry, Joe.
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The Tower end of the Cadillac is what you will see in the video today, and the Tower exercise is specifically the third sequence I am doing. It will look like a shoulder stand. In the clip I refer to it as an assisted jackknife.
In the video clip you will see:
- A powerful ankle strengthener for the lateral side. It also stretches the calf muscles
- A lateral hip and upper leg strengthener that challenges the deep hip flexors
- A weighted reverse abdominal that leads into a full shoulder stand, i.e., the Tower exercise
To finish this three-way I’ve included the Monkey, a delicious stretch for hamstrings and back, with traction. Both hands and feet are pressing on the bar, working the ends against the middle.
The ankle, leg and hip work is most commonly done with the legs in parallel alignment. I’m showing this lateral bias for those who need extra attention to both stretch and strengthening on the outside.
In the first exercise the muscles benefitted include: extensor hallucis longus, extensor digitorum longus, flexor digitorum longus, flexor hallucis longus, peroneus group (especially for me – mine are lazy), tibialis anterior and posterior, and the intrinsic muscles of the feet. Your experience of it in this lateral bias will be in the third, fourth and fifth metatarsals. It is not a strengthener of the big toe. You will also feel your hamstrings, gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
As we move into the second exercise, flexing deeply at the hip with the weight of that bar and those heavy springs, still in the lateral bias, you will be using gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, tensor fascia latae, sartorius, rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and pectineus. Your iliotibial band will be stretching here.
There is nothing like the heavy weight coming down on your body in these exercises. It’s great to have a Cadillac but you can also do these on the Tower of Power.