Blog Fitness Pilates Does Pilates Help Lose Weight? The Truth You Should Know

Does Pilates Help Lose Weight? The Truth You Should Know

Pilates is a type of low-impact exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility, and posture. It was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates and has gained popularity over the years as a form of fitness training (6).

While many people who turn to Pilates want to improve their overall health and well-being, one common question often arises – does Pilates help with weight loss? In this article, we’ll discuss the truth about Pilates and its impact on weight loss.

What is Pilates?

Before starting into the topic of weight loss, let’s first understand what exactly Pilates is. As mentioned earlier, it is a low-impact exercise that involves a series of controlled movements and breathing techniques. 

These movements target specific muscle groups in the body, with a focus on strengthening the core muscles. The main principles of Pilates include concentration, control, centering, flowing movements, precision, and breathing (7).

Pilates can be done with only a mat or with specialized equipment such as the Reformer, Cadillac, or Wunda Chair (7). It is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels and can be modified to accommodate individual needs.

The Relationship Between Pilates and Weight Loss

Now let’s address the question at hand – does Pilates help with weight loss? The answer is a bit complex. While Pilates can be a great addition to a weight loss journey, it should not be solely relied upon for shedding pounds. Here’s why:

  • Pilates burns calories: Like any form of physical activity, Pilates helps burn calories. However, the number of calories burned during a session may not be significant compared to high-intensity exercises such as running or aerobics. This means that Pilates alone may not lead to a significant amount of weight loss.
  • Pilates builds lean muscle: One key aspect of Pilates is its focus on building lean muscle. As you strengthen and tone your muscles, your body composition changes, making it appear slimmer and more defined. However, since muscle weighs the same as fat, as you lose fat and gain muscle, the number on your scale may not change significantly, despite your body becoming leaner.
  • Pilates improves metabolism: Pilates can help improve metabolism by increasing muscle mass (3) (4) and promoting better circulation. This can ultimately aid in weight loss as a faster metabolism helps burn calories more efficiently.
  • Pilates promotes mindful eating: One of the underlying principles of Pilates is concentration. This includes being mindful of your body, movements, and breathing. Incorporating this mindfulness into other aspects of your life, such as eating habits, can lead to better food choices and portion control that can aid in weight loss (5).
See also
Wall Pilates vs Pilates: Is One Better Than The Other?

does pilates help lose weight  

Does Pilates Help You Lose Belly Fat?

Another common question related to Pilates and weight loss is whether or not it can target belly fat. While Pilates does involve core-focused movements, it is not a spot-reducing exercise. This means that you cannot solely rely on Pilates to lose fat in a specific area of your body.

To effectively lose belly fat, a combination of proper nutrition, regular physical activity (including Pilates), and overall weight loss is necessary (8). As you lose fat from your body, including the abdominal area, your core muscles will become more visible and toned. But then again, there are no exercises that are going to specifically target belly fat or any specific region of fat on your body. Fat loss efforts need to be from the combination of a healthy diet and consistent exercise. 

Now, this is not to say that Pilates has no impact on the abdominal area. As mentioned earlier, it can help build lean muscle, which should lead to a slimmer appearance. It also promotes better posture and strengthens the core muscles (2), which can contribute to the appearance of a flatter stomach.

See also
Pilates Exercises for Beginners - Going from Zero to Hero!

That said, while Pilates may not directly lead to a significant decrease in belly fat, it can be a beneficial addition to your weight loss journey.

How Often Should I Do Pilates To Lose Weight?

The frequency of Pilates sessions for weight loss depends on various factors such as your current fitness level, body composition goals, and overall activity level. It is generally recommended to incorporate at least 2-3 Pilates sessions per week into your exercise routine for maximum benefits.

As with any form of physical activity, consistency is key. Regularly engaging in Pilates sessions can help you build and maintain a strong, lean body over time. It is also crucial to listen to your body and give yourself rest days to avoid overtraining and potential injuries (10).

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

This brings us to the question of whether 30 minutes of Pilates a day is enough for weight loss. The answer is, like many other forms of exercise, it depends on a number of factors. For beginners and those with lower fitness levels, 30 minutes of Pilates may provide a good starting point. As you progress and become stronger, you may need to increase the duration and intensity of your sessions to continue seeing results.

It is also essential to note that Pilates should be combined with other forms of physical activity as part of a well-rounded exercise routine. This can include cardio exercises, strength training, and overall movement throughout the day.

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Can You Lose Weight with Pilates?

Which Pilates Exercises are Best for Weight Loss?

Any form of Pilates can contribute to weight loss, some exercises may be more effective than others. Our bodies are afterall all different and that means what works for one person may not work for the other. It is all about finding a balance of what works for you and your wellness goals. With that in mind, here are some key movements and equipment that have the potential to aid in weight loss::

1. The Hundred

How it aids weight loss:

The Hundred is a classic Pilates exercise that engages your core, stimulates circulation, and raises your heart rate, which can help burn calories and increase your metabolism over time.

Steps to execute the exercise:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and lifted to a 90-degree angle.
  2. Extend your arms straight by your sides, parallel to the ground.
  3. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat while extending your legs to a 45-degree angle.
  4. Begin pumping your arms up and down in small, controlled motions while breathing in for five counts and out for five counts.
  5. Continue this for 10 cycles (100 arm pumps).

2. Roll-Up

How it aids weight loss:

The Roll-Up targets your abdominal muscles and helps improve flexibility and strength, contributing to an overall lean and toned body.

Steps to execute the exercise:

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms extended overhead and legs straight.
  2. Inhale, and slowly raise your arms towards the ceiling.
  3. Begin to roll your spine off the mat, one vertebra at a time, reaching towards your toes.
  4. Exhale as you roll back down to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  5. Repeat this process 6-8 times.

3. Single Leg Stretch

How it aids weight loss:

This exercise targets the core and legs, helping to increase mobility and improve coordination, which can enhance calorie burning.

See also
The Ultimate Pilates Mat Workout for Beginners (10 Basic Moves + Steps Included)

Steps to execute the exercise:

  1. Lie on your back and pull your knees into your chest.
  2. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat and extend your left leg at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Place your right hand on your right ankle and your left hand on your right knee.
  4. Switch legs, extending your right leg while pulling your left knee into your chest.
  5. Continue to switch legs in a controlled manner for 10-12 repetitions on each side.

Read more: Wall Pilates for Butt: A Quick Guide for Beginners

4. Plank

How it aids weight loss:

Planking engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the core, arms, legs, and back, providing a full-body workout that can be effective for increasing daily total calorie expenditure. .

Steps to execute the exercise:

  1. Start in a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your body in a straight line.
  2. Engage your core and hold this position for 30-60 seconds, ensuring your hips do not drop.
  3. Rest for a few seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

does pilates help lose weight  

5. Leg Circles

How it aids weight loss:

This exercise focuses on the abdominal muscles and thighs, which can help to tone the lower body and improve core strength.

Steps to execute the exercise:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms by your sides.
  2. Lift your right leg straight up toward the ceiling.
  3. Make small circles with your leg, moving clockwise for 5-10 repetitions.
  4. Reverse the direction for the same number of repetitions.
  5. Switch to the left leg and repeat the process.

6. Teaser

How it aids weight loss:

The Teaser is a challenging exercise that engages the core, improves balance, and burns calories by working multiple muscle groups together.

Steps to execute the exercise:

  1. Sit on the mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lean back slightly, lifting your feet off the ground, extending your legs at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Reach your arms towards your legs, forming a “V” shape with your body.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower back down.
  5. Repeat 6-8 times.
See also
Pilates Ring Workout: 12 Exercises for Full-Body Toning

7. Side Kick

How it aids weight loss:

The Side Kick targets the hips, thighs, and core, aiding in building lean muscle and burning calories.

Steps to execute the exercise:

  1. Lie on your side with your legs extended straight and your head resting on your bottom arm.
  2. Place your top hand on the mat for support.
  3. Lift your top leg to hip height and swing it forward and back, maintaining control and balance.
  4. Perform 10-12 repetitions on each side.

By incorporating these Pilates exercises into your fitness routine, you can increase the amount of calories you burn in a day which can aid in weight loss while also  building a stronger, leaner body.

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  • Does Pilates Slim Your Body?

Pilates can help build lean muscle and improve overall body composition (1) (3). This can lead to a slimmer appearance over time. When combined with proper nutrition and other forms of physical activity, Pilates can be an effective tool for overall weight loss.

  • Is 20 Minutes of Pilates Enough?

While 20 minutes of Pilates may provide some benefits, it is generally recommended to aim for at least 30 minutes per session for maximum impact. However, the duration and intensity of your sessions may vary depending on individual factors and goals.

  • Will Pilates Give Me Abs?

Pilates can help strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, but it is not a guarantee for achieving six-pack abs. As with any exercise, proper nutrition and overall weight loss are necessary for visible muscle definition in the abdominal area (8). Additionally, genetics also plays a role in how defined your abs may appear.

  • How Many Calories Does 60 Minutes of Pilates Burn?

The number of calories burned during a 60-minute Pilates session will vary, depending on factors such as your weight, your overall level of fitness, the intensity level of your workout, and the types of exercises performed. On average, it can range from 200-400 calories a session.

  • Can I Just Do Pilates To Lose Weight?

While Pilates offers numerous benefits and can aid in weight loss, it should not be the only form of physical activity included in your routine. A combination of different exercises and a healthy diet is necessary for effective and sustainable weight loss (9).

Each of the following factors determine the effectiveness of Pilates for weight loss:

  • Consistency: To see results, it is essential to regularly incorporate Pilates into your exercise routine and maintain a consistent schedule.
  • Intensity: The level of intensity in your Pilates sessions can impact how many calories you burn and whether or not you are challenging your muscles enough for growth.
  • Body Composition Goals: Pilates can help build lean muscle and improve overall body composition, but like all exercises,  it may not directly target fat loss in specific areas of the body.
  • Nutrition and Overall Activity Level: Proper nutrition and incorporating other forms of physical activity are crucial components of any weight loss journey. Combining these with Pilates can lead to better results.
  • How Long Does It Take To See Results From Pilates?

The time it takes to see results from Pilates varies from person to person. Factors such as frequency of sessions, intensity, and overall lifestyle habits can impact the speed of results. However, with regular practice and consistency, you can typically expect to see changes in your body within a few weeks.

The Bottom Line

While Pilates may not directly result in significant weight loss, it can be a valuable tool in overall fitness and well-being. It helps build strength, flexibility, and mindfulness, which are all essential components of a healthy lifestyle

So if you’re looking to lose weight, consider incorporating Pilates into your routine along with a balanced diet and other forms of physical activity. 

Remember that slow and steady progress is key, and the most important thing is to find a form of exercise that you enjoy and can stick with in the long run. Whether it’s Pilates or another type of exercise, find what works for you and make it a part of your healthy lifestyle. 


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!


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  2. Effect of core stability training using pilates on lower extremity muscle strength and postural stability in healthy subjects (2012,
  3. Efficacy of Pilates in Functional Body Composition: A Systematic Review (2022,
  4. Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism (2013,
  5. Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat (2017,
  6. Pilates: how does it work and who needs it? (2011,
  7. Pilates (2011,
  8. Weight loss – a healthy approach – Better Health Channel (2022,
  9. Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2004,
  10. Why Rest Days Are Important for Muscle Building (n.d.,