Pilates is a form of exercise that can help you lose weight and tone your muscles.
The Pilates method was developed by Joseph Pilates as a core strengthening workout for dancers back in the early 1900s. Since then, it’s been adapted for people who want to lose weight, tone their muscles, or just feel better about themselves through regular physical activity.
Pilates exercises are done on the floor using only mats and springs which means all you need to get started is find some space around you where you plan to work out and some comfortable clothing that won’t restrict your movement.
A commonly asked question about this movement is – how good is Pilates for weight loss? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and look at other benefits of practicing Pilates.
Is Pilates A Good Workout For Weight Loss?
Yes and No. Pilates is very different from other types of workouts which can help you lose weight. The reason for this is that Pilates does not burn as many calories as running, bicycling or Zumba. Instead, it allows you to focus on toning and shaping your muscles and building up strength (1).
It’s also important to know that Pilates exercises do not work by burning fat alone; rather, they create a lean body shape by strengthening the muscles around problem areas such as the abdomen and thighs, thus creating a smaller overall silhouette than before (1).
The weight loss effect of Pilates is indirect. This practice improves various aspects of your health and makes it easier to lose weight. Here are five benefits of Pilates for weight loss:
Most people trying to lose weight also want to tone the muscles that give them their ideal body shape. Pilates offers many body-shaping benefits for both male and female practitioners.
By working the deep abdominal muscles, you get a healthier and more uniform look around your midsection which is especially beneficial to women who carry their weight in this area. Pilates also strengthens the gluteal muscles of the buttocks, making them appear perkier and helping to achieve an hourglass figure (1).
Many people lose strength as they age or after suffering from an injury such as a bad fall that caused bruising or fractures. Working out with Pilates can help build back some of that lost strength, allowing you to do daily activities more easily without assistance from others (2).
Reduce Injury Risk
Pilates exercises can increase your awareness of how you move and where your body is positioned. This increased mental and physical engagement helps to avoid muscle and joint injuries due to accidents or negligence on the part of the exerciser during other activities like running, jogging, etc (3).
Pilates is a relaxing practice. Exercising with this method can help eliminate stress, increase blood flow to the brain, and improve your mood (2). This process lowers cortisol levels in the body, a hormone responsible for weight gain in some individuals.
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Better Posture And Movement
Through working with your core muscles, Pilates greatly increases your flexibility, mobility and balance which reduces your risk of injury both at work and in your free time (1). Being able to complete daily tasks without fear of injury gives you the confidence and drive to approach weight loss with vigor, making it easier on yourself to stay on track with healthier choices during our day-to-day lives.
The most important Pilates benefit for weight loss is that this practice can change your whole mindset from negative to positive when it comes to losing weight through exercise. Instead of struggling against a workout machine or aerobic activity, you’ll be working out with a sense of purpose and learning a form of physical activity that can give you long-term benefits. This positive attitude makes it easier for you to make the diet and exercise changes necessary for weight loss (1).
Different Types Of Pilates Exercises To Lose Weight And Tone Muscles
To get the full benefits of body sculpting, Pilates is best combined with complementary workouts such as running, swimming or even yoga. Here are some Pilates moves that can help you lose weight:
How to do it:
- Start in a tabletop position.
- Curl your back downwards while looking up at the ceiling without rounding your shoulders. Keep your core engaged throughout the exercise.
How to do it:
- Assume a push-up position and then bend your elbows so that you’re resting on your forearms instead of on your hands.
- Lift up by straightening out your arms and lifting your body off the floor with your toes curled under and pressing down
Low Plank Position
How to do it:
- Assume a plank position, but rest on the balls of both feet instead of letting one foot drop in front of the other like in normal plank position.
- For added difficulty, raise one leg at a time when in low plank position until both legs are extended straight up.
How to do it:
- Start in a seated position with both feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your spine upwards, tucking your chin slightly to look at your chest. As you do this, roll your shoulders back and down, pulling the shoulder blades together behind you as you roll up one vertebrae at a time.
How to do it:
- Assume a tabletop position where knees are bent and lifted off the floor about an inch (or 2-3 cm). Rest on forearms. Keep toes curled under throughout exercise.
- Begin by breathing in; exhale while bringing your head towards knees by bending elbows outwards away from ears.
- Push your heels downward into the mat as hips lift upward towards the ceiling. Now draw your belly button inward towards your spine; keep legs slightly apart.
- Continue breathing throughout exercise.
The Bottom Line
Pilates is not the most efficient way to lose weight since it does not work by burning calories specifically. However, focusing on body toning and strengthening through Pilates exercises is a great complement to your workout routine if you’re hoping to lose weight fast but also create a slimmer figure.
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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!
- Pilates: how does it work and who needs it? (2011, nih.gov)
- Pilates and yoga – health benefits (2013, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Pilates Reducing Falls Risk Factors in Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (2021, frontiersin.org)