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Can You Lose Weight with Pilates?

Any physical activity, when performed consistently and combined with a healthy diet, can contribute to weight loss. This is because engaging in exercise increases caloric expenditure. When it exceeds calorie intake, it leads to weight loss.

So, yes, Pilates can indeed be a part of your weight loss strategy. While it might not burn as many calories as some higher-intensity workouts, its role in developing lean muscle mass can contribute to a more efficient metabolism, aiding in weight loss over time.

That said, it’s not as straightforward as merely showing up to a Pilates class or rolling out your mat at home.

Here’s what you need to know about the effectiveness of Pilates for weight loss and how to maximize its benefits.

Is Pilates Good for Weight Loss or Toning?

Pilates is more suited for toning (developing lean muscle mass, improving muscular definition), among benefits other than significant weight loss (11). However, it can still be a part of an effective weight loss plan, as it helps to increase muscle strength and boost metabolism.

Raise Your BMR

Pilates contributes to weight loss by improving overall body composition (4). This means the ratio of fat to muscle in your body will change to a higher percentage of lean muscle mass. This can lead to a more toned and slimmer appearance.

Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is the number of calories your body burns at rest, will increase as you build more muscle through Pilates (3) (6). With a higher BMR, your body will burn more calories throughout the day, even when you are not actively exercising.

Increase Your Calorie Burn

While Pilates may not burn as many calories as high-intensity workouts, it still offers a significant calorie burn. The exact number of calories burned depends on factors like your weight, intensity level, and the type of Pilates exercises you do.

See also
10 Pilates Ball Exercises to Include In Your Core Workout

Generally, a 50 minute-long session of Pilates can burn anywhere from 175 to 250 calories for an average person (1). This amount can be higher for more vigorous Pilates classes or those with added weight resistance.

Complement Other Forms of Exercise

Pilates can also be an excellent complement to other forms of exercise, such as cardio and strength training. Incorporating Pilates into your workout routine can help improve balance, flexibility, and core strength, making you stronger and more efficient in other physical activities (12).

Pilates can also aid in injury prevention by strengthening the core and stabilizing muscles. This can allow you to perform better in other exercises and reduce the risk of injuries that may hinder your progress towards weight loss goals.

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Improve Your Mental and Emotional Well-being

In addition to its physical benefits, Pilates can also have a positive impact on your mental and emotional well-being. The combination of controlled movements, focused breathing, and mindful practice can help reduce stress levels, improve mood, and promote relaxation (10).

Stress is often linked to weight gain (8), so incorporating Pilates into your routine can provide not only physical but also mental support in your weight loss journey.

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When you’re mentally and emotionally feeling your best, you’re more likely to make healthy choices and stick to your weight loss plan.

Can You Lose Belly Fat Doing Pilates?

By engaging the core muscles, Pilates can help tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles, leading to a more defined midsection. However, spot reduction (targeting fat loss in specific areas) is not possible through any form of exercise.

To lose belly fat, you need to focus on overall weight loss through a combination of healthy eating habits and regular physical activity. Pilates can contribute to this by increasing calorie burn, improving muscle strength, and promoting a leaner body composition.

can you lose weight with pilates  

How Often Should I Do Pilates To Lose Weight?

Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Pilates method, recommended practicing his exercises 4-5 times a week for maximum benefits.

However, the frequency of Pilates for weight loss may vary, based on your current fitness level, specific goals, and other forms of exercise you incorporate into your routine.

For example, if you are new to Pilates, start with 2-3 sessions per week and gradually increase to 4-5 sessions as you make progress. This may be a more suitable approach. Such an approach will allow your body to adapt to the exercises and prevent overtraining or burnout.

If you are already incorporating other forms of exercise, such as cardio and strength training into your routine, you may need to adjust the frequency of your Pilates sessions accordingly, to avoid overtraining and optimize your overall results.

Is 30 Minutes of Pilates a Day Enough To Lose Weight?

Joseph Pilates believed that performing his exercises correctly and with proper form for a shorter amount of time (around 30 minutes) could be more beneficial than doing them incorrectly for a longer duration.

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While 30 minutes of Pilates may not seem like much, when performed consistently with the right intensity level and combined with other forms of exercise and healthy eating habits, it can contribute significantly to weight loss.

The key is to focus on quality over quantity, making sure you are performing the exercises correctly and challenging yourself enough to see results.

That said, a typical Pilates session may last 45-60 minutes, allowing time for a proper warm-up, cool-down, and stretching. So even if you only have 30 minutes to spare, it’s still possible to get an effective Pilates workout in.

How To Maximize Pilates for Weight Loss

To make the most of your Pilates practice for weight loss, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Incorporate Cardio Pilates

While traditional Pilates is not known for its cardiovascular benefits, there are variations and modifications that can turn it into a heart-pumping workout. Look for classes or routines labeled as “cardio Pilates” or “Pilates fusion” for a more intense calorie burn.

Add Resistance

Adding light weights or resistance bands to your Pilates exercises can help challenge and strengthen muscles, leading to a higher calorie burn. It can also improve muscle definition, a super important aspect of Pilates for weight loss for beginners.

Utilize the Power of Breathing

Pilates emphasizes proper breathing techniques, which can significantly impact your workout’s effectiveness. Deep, controlled breathing not only helps with engaging your core muscles thoroughly but also increases oxygen flow to your muscles, enhancing endurance and fat burning (13).

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Focus on Muscle Activation

Instead of passively moving through the motions, actively think about the muscles you’re engaging during each exercise. This mindfulness can lead to better muscle activation and recruitment, leading to more calories burned both during and after your session due to the increased metabolic rate from muscle growth.

Combine with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

While Pilates is great for toning and flexibility, combining it with HIIT workouts throughout the week can turbocharge your weight loss (14). HIIT provides intense cardio and strength training, while Pilates helps with mindfulness, breathing, core strength, and flexibility.

Read more: The Ice Hack to Lose Weight: Is There Science to Support the Claims?

Optimize Your Class Frequency and Duration

For weight loss, consistency and duration matter. Aim for at least 3-4 Pilates sessions per week and make sure each session is at least 45 minutes to an hour long. This frequency ensures that you’re consistently challenging your body and promoting calorie burn.

Leverage the Resistance Band

Often underutilized, resistance bands can add an extra layer of challenge to your Pilates workout. They help in creating resistance, making your muscles work harder, which can lead to increased strength and calorie burn.

Experiment with Pilates Equipment

If you have access to a Pilates studio, don’t shy away from using equipment like the Reformer, Cadillac, or Wunda Chair. These apparatuses can provide resistance and support, allowing you to perform a wider range of exercises that challenge your body in new ways.

Mindful Eating

Weight loss is not just about exercise; it’s also significantly influenced by diet (9). Incorporate mindful eating practices by paying attention to hunger cues, eating slowly, and choosing whole, nutrient-dense foods to support your Pilates regimen (7).

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It helps if you’ve determined your daily calorie needs and aim to create a slight deficit through diet. This may look different for each person, but a 500-1000 calorie deficit per day can lead to 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week.

Reducing processed, high-calorie foods and portion control can also help in achieving your weight loss goals (5) (15).

can you lose weight with pilates  

Track Your Progress

Use a journal or app to note down your Pilates workouts, including the exercises performed, the intensity level, and how you felt. Tracking helps in recognizing patterns, progress, and areas needing improvement, keeping you motivated and focused on your goals.

Rest and Recovery

Don’t underestimate the power of rest and recovery. Your body needs time to repair and strengthen itself after workouts. Make sure you’re getting adequate sleep and incorporating rest days into your routine to prevent burnout and injuries (16).

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can you lose weight with pilates  


  • What Exercise Burns The Most Belly Fat?

While spot reduction is not possible, exercises that target multiple muscle groups and increase heart rate are the most effective for burning belly fat. Some examples include squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts. Effective styles of exercise include HIIT training and circuit training.

HIIT involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise alternated with periods of rest or low-intensity activity, leading to increased calorie burn and fat loss.

Circuit training combines resistance and cardiovascular exercises in a circuit, allowing you to work on different muscle groups while keeping your heart rate elevated.

The difference between these and traditional cardio exercises is that they keep your body in a fat-burning state for hours after the workout. This concept, called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), has been shown to be effective in reducing visceral fat, the harmful type of belly fat (2).

  • Is 20 Minutes of Pilates Enough To Lose Weight?

20 minutes of Pilates can be a great addition to your weight loss regimen, but it may not be enough on its own. 

For significant weight loss and toning, aim for at least 45 minutes to an hour of Pilates 3-4 times a week. Alternatively, you can combine shorter Pilates sessions with other types of workouts like HIIT or strength training throughout the week.

  • How Long Does It Take To Lose Fat With Pilates?

It takes a few months to build significant muscle mass and see visible changes in your body composition. However, the exact timeline for weight loss with Pilates may vary based on factors like your starting fitness level, diet, frequency and intensity of workouts, and individual metabolism. 

Increasing the intensity and frequency of your Pilates sessions, along with incorporating other forms of exercise and mindful eating, helps accelerate weight loss results.

  • Is Pilates or Yoga Better for Belly Fat?

Both Pilates and yoga can be effective at helping you lose belly fat. Calorie burn in both Pilates and yoga is dependent on intensity of the exercise session.Ultimately, the best exercise is the one you enjoy and can stick to consistently.

The Bottom Line

Pilates may not be the most effective form of exercise for significant weight loss, but it can still play a valuable role in achieving and maintaining healthy weight. Its ability to improve body composition, increase calorie burn, complement other forms of exercise, and promote mental and emotional well-being can make it a valuable addition to any weight loss strategy.

To get the best results, it’s essential to combine Pilates with a nutritious diet and other forms of exercise.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. ACE-sponsored Study: Can Pilates Do It All? (2005,
  2. Effect of exercise intensity, duration and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption (2003,
  3. Effects of a 12-Week Pilates Program on Functional Physical Fitness and Basal Metabolic Rate in Community-Dwelling Middle-Aged Women: A Quasi-Experimental Study (2022,
  4. Efficacy of Pilates in Functional Body Composition: A Systematic Review (2021,
  5. Food choices for weight loss: what dietary strategies would people use? (2024,
  6. Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism (2013,
  7. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat (2017,
  8. Obesity and Stress: A Contingent Paralysis (2022,
  9. Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2021,
  10. Pilates, Mindfulness and Somatic Education (2014,
  11. Pilates and multiple health outcomes: An umbrella review (2023,
  12. Pilates for Improvement of Muscle Endurance, Flexibility, Balance, and Posture (2010,
  13. The Effect of Abdominal Breathing Exercise on Weight and Body Fat, BMI, Waist Hip Ratio in Obese College Student (2010,
  14. The Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training Type on Body Fat Percentage, Fat and Fat-Free Mass: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials (2023,
  15. Understanding the science of portion control and the art of downsizing (2018,
  16. Why Rest Days Are Important for Muscle Building (n.d.,