Wondering, whether your Pilates routine will help you to lose weight fast? Do Pilates benefits include weight loss effect or the slim and well-toned body promises are just encouraging words from Pilates instructors? Just recently, I heard from a CrossFit trainer that “while Pilates has definite benefits, its strongest suit is certainly not weight loss.” As the fitness enthusiast with more than 25 years in dancing, all kinds of fitness training and mind-body practices, I respectfully disagree.
Triggered by those words above, I have done some research through hundreds of fitness forums and gladly present its results, completed with my personal journey as the Pilates institutor and observation of my clients, in the article below. Hopefully, this post will help you clarify how effective are Pilates classes for losing weight and whether Pilates is the first choice for weight loss purposes.
Call me Captain Obvious, but how much you weigh depends on how much you eat and how much energy you burn. Let’s go with numbers. The researchers found that, on average, a person weighing 75 kilograms burns 450-500 calories per hour from a high-intensity workout such as jumping, 390 calories per hour from an intermediate routine such as brisk walking, and 250-300 calories for every hour of a basic Pilates workout.
Ok, I agree on that: you are not supposed to sweat during a Pilates class as much as you do while jumping or running sprints. Although Pilates could be a great cardio, it depends on the exact type of exercise, its modification, and the number of repetitions.
-What do you do for Exercise? -Pilates… -What do you do for Cardio? -I do Pilates faster!!!
In fact, the obvious reason why weight loss is among Pilates benefits is simple math. If you happen to be a primary sedentary person, any workout will increase your total caloric expenditure from whatever your baseline is, to a few hundred calories above that. So, if you usually burn 1500 calories on an average day and you add a 250-calorie workout to your routine, you will be burning a total of 1750 calories or 17% more than you were before you started exercising regularly. Let me repeat this: this principle applies to all exercises that you add to your daily regime.
But! The weight loss that happens with Pilates isn’t due to the typical causal pathways, in which you burn more calories than you take in. I believe that Pilates, eventually, helps you lose weight faster than many cardio workouts. Here is the logic behind that statement: our body image depends on what we eat on 80%, and on what we exercise – on only 20%.
And more important than the calorie burning effect is how Pilates changes those four out of five parts of successfully reshaping the body. Before we target weight loss, it is important to understand the various factors that contribute to weight gain. Pilates undermines the reasons for gaining weight. That’s where the magic happens!
Ten Reasons Why Pilates Is Effective For Weight Loss:
1. Pilates boosts your metabolism. Pilates builds lean muscle, which in turn burns more calories than fat does. So, yes, by increasing your basal metabolic rate by adding lean muscle you will burn more calories than you did before and lose weight without changing anything else. It’s a simple math equation: calories in, VS calories out. If you don’t burn additional calories through exercise, you need your body to naturally burn more, which can be achieved through increased muscle.
Pilates assists in weight loss by changing your overall body composition. If a person were the same weight but sculpted and toned, probably, she would not want to weigh less. When we look in the mirror, what we largely want to see is a mildly sculpted body, toned muscles, and a minimum of excess flesh. In other words, more muscles, and less fat. And to change your muscle to fat ratio, we must perform resistance training.
Resistance training, the essence of Pilates, is scientifically proven to create lean muscle and boost your metabolism to burn calories all day long. The second you hop off the bike or the treadmill, you stop burning calories. With Pilates, the second you’re done, you start burning calories. So, go ahead and let Pilates burn your calories (all day long).
To accomplish this resistance training goal, you can choose bodyweight training or actual weight training. Pilates, luckily, makes use of both. Proper Pilates workouts require you to master a series of bodyweight exercises known as the Pilates mat, and endless routines on several distinctive Pilates resistance devices: Pilates band, Pilates ring, Foam roller and so many others. Keep in mind, you can use different Pilates resistance accessories, custom-tailored to your strength and capacity.
If you change your body composition by adding muscle and reducing fat, you will get a positive impact on your metabolic rate. The more muscle you add, the more calories you will burn at rest. You will burn more calories at rest simply by virtue of having added lean muscle to your body.
How often should you practice Pilates for weight loss effect? As with any activity program for weight loss, you should engage in this activity 4 to 5 times a week, combined with balanced eating, to see body changes with shaping.
2. Pilates encourages you to eat mindfully. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention with care and discernment to yourself and others. Psychologists classify eaters into two groups, those who rely on their hunger and those who try to control their eating through willpower, like most dieters. They call them intuitive (mindful) eaters and controlled eaters.
The interesting thing is that intuitive eaters are less likely to be overweight, and they spend less time thinking about food. Controlled eaters are more vulnerable to overeating in response to advertising, super-sizing, and the all-you-can-eat buffet. And a small indulgence, like eating one scoop of ice cream, is more likely to lead to a food binge in controlled eaters.
Pilates, with its well-known mid-body connection, teaches you to listen to your body, know its needs better and not overeat.
3. Pilates shreds your belly fat. In Pilates, we train our Core muscles, not only abdominals. That means you strengthen all muscles of the central part of your body, protect and strengthen your back and lower back in particular, and keep your belly button close to spine every second of Pilates class.
If you have tried Pilates at least once, you may hear the term “The Core” many times during class: keep your Core muscles engaged, strong Core is all we need, etc. And you may know that Pilates itself is all about Сore. And you may also be confused while giving definition to this term.
So, what does Core mean? In 1945 Edition of Joseph Pilates’ Return to life through Contrology, Jo wrote: “Centering represents the acts of drawing your own mental and physical focus during each exercise to the core or center, often called “The powerhouse” of your body. This (Core) is roughly the area between your lower ribs and hips, although it also includes the lower and upper back muscles.” Simple and intelligible! Let’s read it once again.
Nowadays, the definition of the Core is the following: the complete, three-dimensional set of all the bones, joints, and muscles in the center of the body, working together to stabilize the body and mobilize the movement.
Why is it important to have a strong core? A strong Core is a key to protecting the spine and stabilizing the rest of the body. Core muscles strengthen the middle of the body that helps to hold the pelvis and spine in correct alignment and protect the body from injuries.
How to define your core muscles? And how to differentiate them from your abdominals? Lie on your back with knees bent, neutral pelvis and lower back and place your palms on your iliac bones and belly button (like a triangle). Now try to blow out your stomach and push out your hands: you have used your external abdominals. Relax and come back to neutral position. And now keeping your neutral lumbar and pelvis, imagine that something very heavy fall onto your stomach and all your center body was dropped down: if you succeeded, you have found your core muscles.
What Pilates exercises strengthen your core? By definition of Pilates – all of them. Core stability is one of the key goals in Pilates. You may try such exercises as “The Shoulder Bridge,” “The Hundred,” and “The Roll Up” to get acquainted with your Core.
4. Pilates reduces stress – the top reason for obesity. Stress can lead to a poor diet. More stress = more cortisol = higher appetite for junk food = more belly fat, say dieticians and nutritional biochemists.
With its body-mind connection, inspiration Pilates calms down your thoughts and makes you smile. One of my students – recently wrote to me the following: “As soon as I started Pilates, I became a very peaceful person inside. I have found my inner peace (well, most of the time) that helps me deal with external daily frustrations.” And calm people don’t need to jam stress.
5. Pilates makes you look slimmer. It’s all about posture, baby! Breathe deeply and get ready. You can lose up to 5 pounds in 5 seconds with Pilates. Stand up straight and try to stretch and elongate your spinal column from your tailbone to the neck vertebras and pull your belly button to your lower back. Because of weight distribution around your spine, you have got a more tightened body. That’s it, you may ask? Yes and no… Yes for a right now moment, but to teach your muscles to keep that stretched spine and scooped navel (read – to stay slim) – come and practice Pilates for a longer time that 1 minute you spent reading this paragraph. Check out our Guide on Posture Correcting Exercises.
6. Pilates inspires you to become more physically active. Pilates teaches you to practice everywhere: in a hotel room, at home, while traveling, even in the car… Just do it: beat that sedentary lifestyle with Pilates.
7. Pilates is a habit easy to fall in love with. Since Pilates routine in not so hard, you want to die after 5 minutes since you have started, you are very likely to enjoy the class, and stick to it, and increase your chances for sustainable practice; therefore, results. You know, they say, that a workout should not be a punishment for what you have eaten, but a celebration of what your body can do, and Pilates is the first way to prove it!
8. Pilates reduces the risk of injuries of all kinds. Because Pilates does such a good job strengthening your core, reducing the risk of injury, and improving your flexibility, it will help keep you from getting sidelined with an injury — which means you can work out more consistently.
9. Pilates makes you more fitness curious. You may also be more likely to exercise in other ways since you often find yourself visiting a gym or a health club to take Pilates class.
10. Pilates workouts change your environment. The environment is king. When you are surrounded with gorgeous bodies in Pilates pants for a few hours in a week, it gives you extra motivation kick.
To sum it all up: Pilates is definitely what you make it. It most definitely can help you achieve your weight loss goals. When Pilates is combined with a sensible diet and cardio (jogging 3-4 times a week for half an hour), the results are great.