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The Pilates method is a form of exercise that was developed back in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates, a physical trainer from Germany.
Originally it was called Contrology and has been developed over time with exercises designed to promote health and wellness.
It’s often compared with other kinds of low-impact exercise such as Yoga.
While it offers many benefits and has become very popular, there’s lots of questions surrounding this type of exercise like is pilates strength training and does it burn calories?
In this article, we’re going to address some of these questions to discover if Pilates is good for weight loss, muscular strength, mindfulness, and flexibility.
Is Pilates Strength Training
Pilates is considered a form of strength training with the main emphasis being on the core muscles.
These are muscles in the central part of your body which includes your abdominal muscles, lower back, and glutes.
Pilates exercises should be performed slowly, with control and a focus on proper breathing.
Each movement will recruit and contract the muscles of your core helping to promote muscle strength and endurance.
While Pilates movements usually involve your own body weight, you can make them more challenging by adding resistance.
In which case, something like resistance bands or light free weights would give you the best results.
A strong core will help to correct and realign your body helping with stability and good posture.
When done regularly it can improve the function of your muscles across your entire body.
What Are The Benefits Of Pilates
Pilates movements offer many health benefits and are a great way of building core strength which can help with other health conditions such as chronic low back pain.
Here are some other effects of Pilates.
Better Mind-Body Connection
Pilates is a great way to emphasize a mind-body connection.
This means you become more aware of your movements, alignment, and breath.
This heightened awareness contributes to better control over your muscles, including those in your core.
Improved Breathing Patterns
Pilates is designed to incorporate coordinated breathing patterns as you perform each movement.
Proper breathing not only enhances oxygenation of the body but also engages the deep core muscles, such as the transverse abdominis.
Reduces Lower Back Pain
When done regularly, it helps to emphasize proper body alignment and spinal articulation.
As a result, this improves your posture, both during exercise and in daily activities.
When your core becomes stronger there is less risk of developing low back pain.
Increases Flexibility & Mobility
The dynamic stretching involved in Pilates moves your muscles and joints through a full range of motion.
This encourages lengthening and elasticity of your muscles which may help to improve your mobility and flexibility.
Reduces Stress Levels
Like many types of exercise, Pilates can help improve your mental health by promoting a sense of calmness and reducing levels of stress.
Increased Muscle Tone
Pilates engages specific muscle groups at the same time, helping improve overall muscle tone and muscular endurance.
It targets both large and small muscle groups, contributing to a balanced and functional physique.
It’s Low Impact
Pilates is generally a low-impact form of exercise, making it accessible to many people including those with joint issues or older adults.
The controlled and gradual nature of Pilates movements reduces the risk of injury and allows for consistent and sustainable improvements in mobility.
In fact, it’s so low impact that it’s often used as part of rehabilitations programs for people recovering from injuries or surgery.
Can You Build Muscle Doing Pilates And Nothing Else
Yes, you can build muscle doing only Pilates. However, while you can build lean muscle by doing body weight Pilates on regular basis, it’s not going to replace resistance training like weightlifting.
To build muscle, mechanical stimulus (stress) needs to be applied to your muscle fibers.
This is done by way of resistance and when you contract your muscles against resistance you create mechanical tension due to the force being applied to your muscles.
If your goal is to build a significant amount of muscle, you’ll need to add enough resistance to result in muscle damage.
A more intense workout causes more damage and during the recovery process your muscles will rebuild bigger and stronger.
It’s a commonly held belief that lifting heavy weights is the only way to build muscle.
But that’s not the case.
If you perform reps to a high volume, you can expect to elicit similar results when lifting heavier weights for less reps.
If you’re new to Pilates and don’t do any other forms of strength training, you’ll probably find that you build muscle quite quickly to begin with.
However, at some point you’ll reach a plateau meaning that your progress with strength and muscle gains will slow down or stop.
When this happens, it’ll be necessary to start adding resistance by either incorporating some light weights or bands.
What’s The Difference Between Pilates VS Yoga
Both Pilates and Yoga are forms of mind-body exercise with the main difference being in the way the movements are performed.
Yoga involves holding poses for a set period of time whereas Pilates entails continued movement.
The focus of a Pilates workout centers around core strength, stability and controlled movement with Yoga being more of a meditative practice to help with flexibility, strength, and mental clarity.
Controlled and mindful breathing is encouraged with both forms of exercise but for different reasons.
Yogic breathing is used to enhance relaxation, awareness, and energy flow.
Conversely, the deep breathing patterns in Pilates are done to properly engage the core muscles.
The breathing patterns are also different. For yoga you should breathe in through the nose and out through the nose with a concerted effort to fill your belly as you breathe in.
During Pilates, it’s necessary to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth with a focus on expanding your ribcage and filling your diaphragm.
Another key difference lies in the equipment used.
For Yoga, there is no equipment needed.
All exercises would be performed on a mat using just your bodyweight.
While Pilates can also be performed as just body weight exercises, you do have the option of making use of certain bits of equipment.
These can range from bands or stability balls right up to specialist machines like a Pilates Reformer.
These types of machines are designed to provide extra challenge to your Pilates workout routine.
You’ll often see these in dedicated Pilates classes.
So, how do you choose between the two?
Well, if your goal is to improve your core strength and posture then Pilates would be your best choice.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for more of a holistic practice to help you de-stress while improving strength and flexibility, Yoga would be better.
Will Pilates Help You Lose Weight
Pilates can help you to lose weight when combined with a proper nutrition program.
However, it’s impact on weight loss may not be as significant as some other forms of exercise.
It won’t burn as many calories as some other forms of high intensity exercises, but it can certainly contribute to calorie expenditure.
The number of calories you’ll burn during a Pilates session will depend on the duration and intensity.
As you begin to build lean muscle mass through regular Pilates training, your resting metabolic rate will naturally increase.
This means your body will burn more calories even when you’re resting.
You’ve heard the saying ‘abs are made in the kitchen’ so don’t forget about your diet.
In order to lose weight, it’s really important to stick to a healthy diet and avoid snacking.
This include eating enough protein which will keep you full for longer and help you increase muscle mass.
Is Pilates Enough Exercise
Whether or not Pilates is ‘enough’ really depends on your fitness goals.
If you’re looking for a form of exercise which is low impact but can help you boost your core strength and mobility then yes, Pilates can be sufficient.
However, if you’re looking for methods to lose weight or build lots of muscle, it’s probably a good idea to incorporate Pilates with other types of training such as weightlifting or HIIT workouts.
Even though Pilates can help to increase strength, muscle, and cardiovascular fitness it does so to a lesser degree when compared to other methods of training.
To sum up, Pilates, characterized by the emphasis on controlled movements, core engagement, and muscle endurance, qualifies as a form of strength training.
While it may not rely on traditional resistance methods like weightlifting, its focus on utilizing body weight, resistance equipment, and specific exercises effectively targets and strengthens various muscle groups.
Pilates is a fantastic way of enhancing your core stability, improving your posture, and overall muscle tone, making it a valuable component of a comprehensive strength training program.
The effectiveness of Pilates in developing strength will depend on your individual fitness goals, and its integration with other strength-building exercises could be the best way of achieving the most benefit.