Does Pilates Work?

This blog post will explore commonly asked questions about Pilates and the effectiveness of Pilates with reference to evidence based research journals.

Does Pilates build muscle?

Every Pilates class at Corepower Pilates works not only the core but also the whole body. We use the arm springs, leg springs and of course there is an abdominal workout making it an overall body workout. In Pilates the springs provide resistance to increase the load on the muscles and research shows Pilates is effective in building muscle.

In a 3 month study of women aged 59 – 66 years old doing Pilates twice a week, there was increased muscle strength in abdominal, upper and lower limbs. [1]

Does Pilates make you lose weight?

Pilates can help maintain a healthy body weight. Pilates helps burn calories but not as many as a cardio based class which will increase the heart rate a lot more. To use Pilates for a really noticeable weight loss plan, a more intense exercise program such as the tower/TRX class combined with a healthy diet is needed. Research shows positive effects of Pilates on the body.

A study on women aged 30-50 years old who did Pilates three times a week for 8 weeks, showed significant decrease in weight, BMI, fat percentage, waist, abdomen and hip circumference after training compared to the control group who did no exercise. [2] While Pilates won’t make drastic changes in body weight, it will contribute to the time you spend moving your body. Building muscle strength through Pilates will also help achieve weight loss as it will help performance in other sports such as running and swimming.

Does Pilates help with lower back pain?

Most people experience lower back pain in their lives and it can be quite debilitating if it is chronic. Pilates moves the spine in different directions and strengthens and stretches the muscles attached to the lower spine making it effective in reducing lower back pain. There are many research papers which support Pilates is effective in helping with lower back pain. [3] [4] The studies also showed Pilates is recommended to be done 2-3 times a week for 3-6 months for longer lasting lower back pain relief. 3,4

With consistent, continued practice, Pilates is a great overall workout with many benefits for the body and the mind which can be enjoyed by everyone.

[1] Effects of a Pilates exercise program on muscle strength, postural control and body composition: results from a pilot study in a group of post-menopausal women

Bergamin,1 S. Gobbo,1 V. Bullo,1 T. Zanotto,1 B. Vendramin,1 F. Duregon,1 L. Cugusi,3 V. Camozzi,2 M. Zaccaria,1 D. Neunhaeuserer,1 and A. Ermolao1

Age (Dordr). 2015 Dec; 37(6): 118.

[2] The effect of Pilates exercise on body composition in sedentary overweight and obese women.

Şavkin R1, Aslan UB2.

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2017 Nov;57(11):1464-1470

[3] Application of Pilates-based exercises in the treatment of chronic non-speci c low back pain: state of the art
Małgorzata Eliks, Małgorzata Zgorzalewicz-Stachowiak, Krystyna Zeńczak-Praga

Postgrad Med J 2019;95:41–45

[4] Effects of pilates on patients with chronic non-specific low back pain: a systematic review

Hui-Ting Lin et al J Phys Ther Sci. 2016 Oct; 28(10): 2961–2969

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