Is Pilates Strength Training?

Big loud grunts while lifting hundreds of kilos. Cavernous gyms full of iron and BO.

That’s what most people think of when you hear the term strength training. But did you know that Pilates is a fantastic form of strength training too? Well, you do now!

Okay, so we’ve spoiled the surprise in this article within the first paragraph, so before we go on to explain why, let’s do a quick refresher on what constitutes strength training.

A commonly shared definition of strength training, such as at Fitness Health 101, defines it as “any exercise type that is designed to increase lean muscle tissue, improve structural strength, decrease excess body fat, increase endurance, and provide several additional physical and psychological benefits”

Lean muscle tissue? Improved strength? When you put it that way, Pilates seems to fit the bill in almost every way! So how is it the same and how is it different to traditional strength training?

First of all, the end goal of Pilates may not necessarily be strength. As in our previous articles where we highlighted everything that is great about pilates and that it is also good for weight loss – many people practice Pilates for many different reasons. However, Pilates is particularly great for strength training as it is an exercise that puts your muscles through a significant amount of time under tension.

As our regular members across our Dynamic Pilates Sydney studios will well know, Pilates is much more effective at keeping your muscles under tension in comparison to erratic movements using momentum, such as in traditional weights training. The Pilates reformer, for example, works particularly well with slow movements and resistance to develop tone and strength. Primarily targeting your core muscles, these exercises develop the strength of the ‘powerhouse’ muscles like no other method of exercise – meaning you will be stronger overall in no time at all.

Let’s break down the Pilates as a form of strength training a little further. Throughout each and every Pilates class, the focus should be on slow and controlled movements. Following your instructors direction and controlling your movements will ensure the working muscles are constantly lengthened or under contraction during each exercise and throughout the whole Pilates session.

One core objective of Pilates that differs from traditional strength training however is to effectively build long, lean muscles. That’s right! As opposed to building large muscle mass as most people do when they undertake strength training, Pilates helps you to build toned and taut limbs. The combination of the time under tension as well as the extended period of lengthening, stretching and continuous activity produces an overall effect of improved strength, decreased body fat and great flexibility, as well as a number of other benefits. Now, doesn’t that sound exactly like the definition of strength training we outlined at the beginning?

So, can Pilates replace traditional strength training methods?

The answer isn’t so simple, it really depends on each individuals’ goals. If you are looking to build strength and muscle mass and work on isolated muscle groups, traditional strength training may be for you. However, if you want to build longer, leaner, stronger muscles and improve your overall health and wellness at the same time, a Pilates Sydney class at Dynamic Pilates might just be your answer!

For more information on our Pilates Sydney class offerings across our Glebe, Crows Nest, Manly and Sydney CBD studios, be sure to check our Classes page by clicking here.

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