Pilates for Weight Loss: Does It Work? (2024)

Pilates is effective for toning and building lean muscle. Combining Pilates with a healthy diet and other forms of exercise such as strength training and cardio, can help you lose weight.

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Is Pilates a good exercise for weight loss?

Pilates is a popular low-impact exercise. It’s effective for toning up, building lean muscle, and improving posture.

Practicing Pilates can be beneficial for your health and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Yet, Pilates may not be as effective for weight loss as other cardio exercises, such as running or swimming. That’s because you’ll burn fewer calories in traditional mat Pilates classes than if you did other cardio exercises.

But if you enjoy Pilates classes you may be more likely to stick to your fitness routine by taking these classes regularly. You’ll also be more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

If your goal is weight loss, try combining Pilates with a healthy diet and other forms of exercise. Alternate Pilates with strength training and other forms of cardio exercise such as walking, swimming, running, or cycling.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of Pilates and the role it can play in helping you to lose weight.

The research on Pilates for weight loss is mixed.

One small study in 2017 observed 37 overweight or obese women ages 30 to 50. The researchers found that practicing Pilates for eight weeks was effective for:

  • weight loss
  • lowering BMI
  • toning the waist
  • decreasing abdomen and hip circumference

It made no difference in lean body mass (body fat weight subtracted from total body weight) though.

This was compared to a group doing no exercise during this time.

Another 2015 study observed postmenopausal women aged 59 to 66 years old. It found that 12 weeks of practicing mat Pilates resulted in no change in body composition.

But the participants did significantly increase abdominal, upper, and lower limb strength. Researchers suspect there was no change in body composition because the women in the study didn’t alter their diets.

There’s also promising research from 2015 that showed that Pilates may be effective for chronic low back pain management and other injury rehabilitation. But more studies are needed.

Never practice Pilates if you’re injured or in pain without a doctor’s permission.

The amount of calories you will burn in Pilates depends on your current weight, if you’re doing a mat or reformer class, and the level of difficulty of the class.

For someone who’s about 150 pounds, one 50-minute Pilates mat class at a beginner level burns approximately 175 calories. An advanced 50-minute class burns approximately 254 calories.

You’ll burn more calories in a Pilates reformer class or any Pilates workout where you elevate your heart rate.

How do calories affect weight loss?

To lose 1 pound, you need to burn about 3,500 calories.

If your goal is to lose weight, you may want to try cardio exercise such as walking, running, or cycling, in addition to Pilates. Also focus on eating a healthy diet with lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

If you’re new to Pilates, try to practice 2 to 3 times per week to experience all the benefits.

You can also try more advanced Pilates classes like Pilates reformer classes and combination classes like Piloxing (Pilates and boxing) or Yogalates (yoga and Pilates.)

You’ll burn more calories in these full body classes than in a traditional Pilates mat class.

If you’re trying to lose weight, participate in these types of combination classes a few times a week for best results. You can also alternate Pilates classes with strength training sessions (with weights) and cardio exercise.

Combining Pilates with other forms of cardio exercise and strength training, plus eating a healthy diet, is an effective way to tone your muscles and help you achieve your weight loss goals.

The “Pilates effect” is the idea that practicing Pilates can lead to improved posture, muscle tone, and a toned core area.

The result of this “effect” is that it may appear you have lost weight. That’s because if you’ve gained or toned up your muscles, you may look more fit overall, even if you haven’t lost weight.

Exercise is important for weight loss, but it’s equally important to focus on your diet.

Eat healthy meals and snacks with lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

See your doctor or a nutritionist to create a diet plan for your goals. For safety, never eat less than 1,200 calories a day.

Pilates is an effective low-impact workout. It can be beneficial for toning up muscles, toning the core, and improving posture.

It may also help with recovery from back pain and other injuries by strengthening the affected area.

If you’re looking to lose weight, you can incorporate Pilates into your wellness plan. Practice Pilates and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle for best results.

Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Pilates for Weight Loss: Does It Work? (2024)


Pilates for Weight Loss: Does It Work? ›

How does Pilates aid weight

Body mass index (BMI)

A BMI calculation provides a single number, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorizes as follows: A BMI of less than 18.5 suggests underweight. A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 suggests a healthy weight range. A BMI of between 25 and 29.9 may indicate overweight.
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com › articles
loss? Unlike many high intensity workouts, Pilates does not burn a significant amount of calories, but studies have found that it can reduce body weight. A 2021 study found Pilates to effectively reduce body weight and body fat percentage in participants with overweight or obesity.

How effective is Pilates for weight loss? ›

Pilates can help you burn a good number of calories, but it may not be a good option for you if you are looking to lose weight fast. It is not as efficient as conventional cardiovascular exercises such as rope jumping, cycling, and jogging. Nonetheless, it can form an integral component of any weight loss plan.

Can you lose belly fat doing Pilates? ›

Does Pilates help you lose belly fat? Pilates Prahran can definitely help you lose belly fat, but it's important to note that targeted weight loss is not possible, meaning that if you want to lose belly fat, you'll need to aim for overall weight loss.

How often should I do Pilates for weight loss? ›

How Often Should You Do Pilates to Lose Weight? To help you lose weight, you should take Pilates about 3 times a week. Just keep in mind that weight loss doesn't happen with exercise alone. To lose weight, you need to take Pilates classes, address your nervous system, and eat a nourishing diet.

Is 30 minutes of Pilates a day enough to lose weight? ›

If you want to lose weight, it's recommended to do around 150 mins of moderate exercise per week which equates to an average of five 30-minute pilates classes per week.

How quickly will I see results from Pilates? ›

While individual experiences will vary, many people begin to notice physical improvements within a few weeks of consistent Pilates practice (usually the initial results within about 3 weeks) This is because even in the first few weeks, your ability to activate the correct muscles and be aware of your posture begins to ...

How much weight can you lose in a month with Pilates? ›

To lose one pound of fat, you have to burn off 3,500 calories more than you consume. That means if you didn't alter your diet, and assuming you practice pilates every day, you can expect to lose one pound about every 16 days. Pilates are not as vigorous an exercise as other intense forms of cardio, such as cycling.

Can Pilates be your only exercise? ›

There are a bunch of different ways it can enhance your fitness and jive with other ways of moving your body. Pilates can “be your only form of exercise if you want it to be,” Gerhman explains, “but it's really meant to complement every form of fitness, every sport, every functional movement.”

Why am I not losing weight with Pilates? ›

You may not lose weight with pilates if you're NOT in a calorie deficit over time. To lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than your body needs. This is a calorie deficit. To gain weight, you must eat more calories than your body needs.

What type of Pilates is best for weight loss? ›

For best results, it is recommended to practice reformer Pilates at least three times a week. Some individuals saw visible changes in their bodies after four to 6 weeks of consistent training with the machine. A beginner can burn up to 250 calories by working out on a reformer for at least 60 minutes.

What is better, Pilates or walking? ›

Significantly higher carbohydrate metabolism was used during Pilates compared to walking (p < 0.05). Conclusion: The cardiopulmonary responses to a single Pilates session are similar to walking at a speed of 3.2 kph but lower than walking at 4.8 kph.

Will 20 minutes of Pilates a day make a difference? ›

Is 20 minutes of Pilates a day enough? If you're following the right workouts, absolutely! 20-minutes a day is plenty to get you in Pilates shape.

Can Pilates change your body shape? ›

Studies have shown that a strong core achieved through Pilates resonates throughout the entire body, giving you long, lean, stabilizing muscles—while also trimming that waistline and sculpting your abs.

Why did I gain weight after Pilates? ›

There are several research-backed reasons why you might notice a slight weight gain after exercise. These include muscle gain, water retention, post-workout inflammation, supplement use, or even undigested food. In most cases, post-workout weight gain is temporary.

Does Pilates slim you down? ›

Pilates can definitely help you lose weight, but it may not be the most effective method of weight loss. “You don't burn thousands of calories in a Pilates class but you will increase your heart rate, break a sweat and improve the way every joint and muscle in your body function,” explains Bell.

Does Pilates change your body shape? ›

Pilates Sculpts Long, Lean, Strong Muscles

Balance postures, deep core movements, and small, repetitive exercises that test endurance will transform your body and build strength by lengthening, toning, sculpting and strengthening. You will be able to see visible muscles along your arms, abs, and legs—long and lean.

Do you lose more weight with yoga or Pilates? ›

Both Pilates and yoga are exercises designed to build strength and improve flexibility. Yoga and Pilates are both good for weight loss — but yoga, especially vinyasa yoga, burns more calories per hour.

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