Is Pilates Good For Weight Loss 2024? Does It Really Work?

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Gopal Ramakrishnan, Ph.D.

is pilates good for weight loss
Pilates is the best full-body workout for burning calories & building solid muscles. Photo: Shutterstock & Team Design

When you think of weight loss, Pilates is probably top on your list. Is Pilates good for weight loss? Pilates is not only for weight loss but also for toning your body composition with more lean muscle mass as well as improving your stability energy levels. 

Unlike high-impact exercises that work for multiple muscle groups simultaneously, pilates provides a more relaxed approach to exercising. You might not get the dramatic results that you might get with high-intensity exercises but consistent pilates could be helpful. In addition, your mind will also probably drift to strict dieting plans and supplements that reduce your calorie intake and help you burn fat such as when you use CBD for weight loss

Does Pilates Help You Lose Weight?

Pilates is a low-impact workout that could help you improve posture, burn calories, increase muscle strength,[1] through body weight and ultimately lose weight,[2]. You might not see dramatic results immediately as you would with cardio but with consistency, you will get your results soon enough. You should begin to see the number on your scale begin to drop soon enough when you practice Pilates every day. 

A study on a small group performing pilates daily noted weight loss, toned body, and lowered BMI. This study indicates that Pilates could work for you too.

How Does Pilates Work For Weight Loss? 

Pilates generally uses a series of slow precise movements to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture and alignment. You might observe that the Pilates effect often targets your core and abdominal muscles. However, it is not restricted to your midsection alone and can involve other body areas too. 

While your movement during pilates class might not be intense, you’re still burning calories and it could help you lose weight. A typical Pilates session that could last 45-50 minutes could help you burn 175 calories,[3] while for an advanced class, you might burn up to 254 calories. To lose each pound, you might need to burn about 3,500 calories,[4]. Therefore, it could take a while before you start seeing weight loss results with Pilates. However, in combination with other exercises and a proper diet, you might find that Pilates helps you lose fat.

Consider throwing in a few days for high-intensity exercises such as lifting weights and aerobics into your routine. Reducing your daily calorie intake moderately could also help you get your results sooner. Ensure that you are still getting proper nutrition despite being on a calorie-deficit diet. Sufficient lean protein and fiber-rich foods such as grains and vegetables should feature on your plate. 

The Pilates program is excellent at relieving stress and fatigue. So, your dedication to your pilates classes might help you commit to other workout routines. Your form during exercises might affect how much impact it makes on you. Pilates could help with that. The health benefits of practicing Pilates such as mobility, balance, and stability might help improve your form on other exercises for better results and reduce your risk of injury. A positive mental state is essential if you want to remain consistent with your exercise and dieting routines. 

Best Pilates Workout For Weight Loss 

When it comes to getting weight loss results with your Pilates fitness program, consistency is key. If you like your pilates classes, joining in every day should not be too difficult. The right combination of practicing pilates workouts will not stop at toning your core and muscles but will help you lose weight. You could try these pilates exercises for weight loss:

  1. Swimming 
  2. Plank jacks 
  3. Kneeling sidekicks 
  4. Jogging knees 
  5. Pilates push-ups

Swimming 

Swimming in a pool is an excellent workout on its own; however, that is not what we are talking about today. In Pilates, swimming is also excellent for toning your abdominal muscles. You will need your yoga mat for this. 

Swimming 
Swimming pilates is one of the most excellent exercises for toning your abdominal muscles. Photo: Shutterstock
  • Lie down flat, face down on the ground 
  • Extend your hands and legs with your feet pointed and your palms facing down
  • Lift your hands and legs from the ground and hold your position 
  • Alternate between lifting your right arm/left leg and left arm/right leg
  • Ensure you are breathing normally during this process
  • Repeat several times 

Plank Jacks 

Plank Jacks look like a blend between jumping jacks and planks. It is also easy to do and you will be needing that exercise mat. Joining a plank challenge can help you commit to this exercise routine. 

  • Stand at the foot end of your mat, facing the mat 
  • Inhale, lift your arms, lengthen your waist and tighten your thighs 
  • Exhale slowly as you bring your head and arms forward 
  • Ensure your arms are shoulder-width apart as you place your hands on the mat by rolling your spine not folding your hips 
  • Take about 31/2 steps with your hands forward till you arrive at a rigid plank position ensuring your shoulders are past your wrists 
  • Balance on your tiptoes in this plank position 
  • Jump into open and close-legged positions like you would in jumping jacks about six times 
  • Walk backward with your hands and return to your standing position 
  • Repeat the entire process about three times 

Kneeling Side Kicks 

Kneeling sidekicks is another excellent Pilates exercise for burning fat. Get on your exercise mat, and let us go.

Kneeling Side Kicks
The pilates kneeling side kicks pose burns fat effectively. Photo: Shutterstock
  • Kneel in the center of your mat
  • Place your right palm on the ground at your side in line with your hips 
  • Extend your left leg to your left side at hip level 
  • Place your left hand behind your head
  • Inhale and powerfully swing your left leg backward 
  • Exhale and swing your left leg forward 
  • Repeat this swinging motion about eight times while ensuring your hips and chest do not change position 
  • Switch to your other leg and repeat the same motion 

Jogging Knees 

You will need to get on your feet for this one. It works on several muscle groups to help you burn more calories. 

  • Stand upright with your elbows pinned at your sides 
  • Pull your abs in and up 
  • Lift your knees to his level as you jog
  • Without breaking your motion, after about eight hip lifts, switch to kicking your bottom with your heels as you jog 
  • Repeat the bottom kicks about eight times 
  • You can proceed to another cycle of jogging knees only reducing the reps with each cycle. So, you are going from eight to six to four, and finally two reps

Pilates Push-Up 

The Pilates push-up is a full-body workout but it can be challenging to perform right more than other forms. Developing the stability, core and arm strength you will need to perform this exercise might take some practice. 

Do not be discouraged. Doing the Pilates push-up everyday is excellent for burning calories and building strong muscles. 

  • Begin in a standing position facing your mat pilates
  • Inhale as you lift your arms over your head
  • Exhale as you place your hands flat on the mat pilates 
  • Take three steps with your hands to arrive at the plank position ensuring your hips, shoulders, heels, and ears are inline 
  • Bend your elbows so that your arms brush your ribs as you lower yourself to the mat
  • Elevate your body in a single motion from the mat
  • Walk backward with your hands and slowly return to your standing position 
  • Repeat this process about five times 

Conclusion 

If you already enjoy Pilates, it might delight you to learn that it can help you burn fat and lose your body weight. For better weight loss results, you should try combining your pilates exercises with cardio and other strength training exercises. A healthy diet and taking supplements that encourage weight loss is also a great idea. Pilates does not stop at improving your body alone. It is great if you want to improve your mental health,[5]. Pilates could help reduce signs of anxiety and depression by encouraging that mind-body connection. 


+ 5 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Júlia Ribeiro Pinto, Cleyton Salvego Santos, Souza, J., Ramos, A.M., Robson Dias Scoz, Filipe, A., Luciano Vaz Ferreira, Baltazar, J. and César Ferreira Amorim (2022). Is pilates better than other exercises at increasing muscle strength? A systematic review. [online] 8(11), pp.e11564–e11564. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e11564.
  2. Cakmakçi O (2017). The effect of 8 week pilates exercise on body composition in obese women. Collegium antropologicum, [online] 35(4). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22397236/.
  3. Acefitness.org. (2006). ACE-sponsored Study: Can Pilates Do It All(2006). [online] Available at: https://www.acefitness.org/getfit/PilatesStudy2006.pdf
  4. Thomas, D.M., Mireia Bargallo Gonzalez, Pereira, A.Z., Redman, L.M. and Heymsfield, S.B. (2014). Time to Correctly Predict the Amount of Weight Loss with Dieting. [online] 114(6), pp.857–861. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2014.02.003.
  5. Fleming, K.N. and Herring, M.P. (2018). The effects of pilates on mental health outcomes: A meta-analysis of controlled trials. [online] 37, pp.80–95. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2018.02.003.‌

Medically reviewed by:

Jennifer Anyabuine holds a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from the University of Nigeria Nsukka and is currently a medical student. She is a freelance medical writer specializing in creating content to improve public awareness of health topics.

Medically reviewed by:

Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Trusted Source

Go to source

SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

Trusted Source

Go to source

African Journals Online

Non-profit Platform for African Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of The American Board of Family Medicine

American Board of Family Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

Informit

RMIT University Library

Trusted Source
Go to source

European Food Safety Authority

Science, Safe food, Sustainability

Trusted Source
Go to source

OrthoInfo

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Trusted Source
Go to source

American Academy of Family Physicians

Strengthen family physicians and the communities they care for

Trusted Source
Go to source

Agricultural Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Trusted Source
Go to source

The American Journal of Medicine

Official Journal of The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Lippincott Journals

Subsidiaries of Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute on Aging

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Translational Research

The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cell

An All-science Publisher

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of Translational Medicine

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

Federal Trade Commission

Protecting America's Consumers

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Human Genome Research Institute

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Food Production, Processing and Nutrition

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

BMC Gastroenterology

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

ACS Publications

A Division of The American Chemical Society

Trusted Source
Go to source

Annual Reviews

Independent, Non-profit Academic Publishing Company

Trusted Source
Go to source

PubChem

National Center for Biotechnology Information

National Library of Medicine
Go to source

PLOS Journals

Nonprofit Publisher of Open-access Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Thieme E-books & E-Journals

Peer-reviewed & Open Access Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

European Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Peer-reviewed International Journal Publishes

Trusted Source
Go to source

Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing Home

Chemical Science Journals, Books and Database

Trusted Source
Go to source

Frontiers

Publisher of Peer-reviewed Articles in Open Acess Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

De Gruyter

German Scholarly Publishing House

Trusted Source
Go to source

Hindawi

Open Access Research Journals & Papers

Trusted Source
Go to source

Oilseeds and Fats, Crops and Lipids

EDP Sciences

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cambridge Core

Cambridge University Press

Trusted Source
Go to source

FoodData Central

U.S. Department Of Agriculture

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of the American Heart Association

Peer-reviewed Open Access Scientific Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The Americans with Disabilities Act

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Organization of Food and Nutrition Professionals

tr
Go to source

Sage Journals

Database From Sage Publications

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute of Drug Abuse

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The ClinMed International Library

A Repository and an Open Access Publisher for Medical Research

Trusted Source
Go to source

The Royal Society Publishing

United Kingdom's National Academy of Sciences

Trusted Source
Go to source

APA PsycNet

Database From American Psychological Association

Trusted Source
Go to source

The Pharma Innovation Journal

Peer-reviewed And Refereed Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development

Peer-reviewed Bimonthly Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

British Pharmacological Society

Journals - Wiley Online Library

Trusted Source
Go to source

American Psychological Association

Scientific and Professional Organization of Psychologists

Trusted Source
Go to source

AAP Publications

Database From American Academy of Pediatrics

Trusted Source
Go to source

Karger Publishers

Academic Publisher of Scientific and Medical Journals and Books

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cambridge University Press & Assessment

Database From Cambridge University

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute of Mental Health

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

MDPI

Publisher of Open Access Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Bulletin of the National Research Centre

Part of Springer Nature

Trusted Source
Go to source

The New England Journal of Medicine

Massachusetts Medical Society

Trusted Source
Go to source

Economic Research Service

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Trusted Source
Go to source

MedlinePlus

Database From National Library of Medicine

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

National Institute of Health

An agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Trusted Source
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The BMJ

Weekly Peer-reviewed Medical Trade Journal

The British Medical Association
Go to source

The British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society is a charity registered in England

Database From Wiley Online Library
Go to source

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

PubMed

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source

DailyMed

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source

Google Scholar

Go to source

Science.gov: USA.gov for Science

Government Science Portal

Go to source

ResearchGate

Social Network Service For Scientists

Find and share research
Go to source

American Heart Association

To be a rentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives

Go to source

BioMed Central

Research in progress

Go to source

JAMA Network

Home of JAMA and the Specialty Journals of the American Medical Association

Go to source

Springer Link

Database From Springer Nature Switzerland AG

Springer - International Publisher Science, Technology, Medicine
Go to source

ODS

Database from Office of Dietary Supplements

National Institutes of Health
Go to source

Federal Trade Commission

Bureaus of Consumer Protection, Competition and Economics
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

Oxford Academic Journals

Oxford University Press

Trusted Source
Go to source

Taylor & Francis Online

Peer-reviewed Journals

Academic Publishing Division of Informa PLC
Go to source

WHO

Database from World Health Organization

Go to source

Journal of Neurology

Peer-reviewed Medical Journal

American Academy of Neurology Journal
Go to source

ScienceDirect

Bibliographic Database of Scientific and Medical Publications

Dutch publisher Elsevier
Go to source

Wiley Online Library

American Multinational Publishing Company

Trusted Source
Go to source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. National Public Health Agency

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database from U.S. National Library of Medicine

U.S. Federal Government
Go to source

U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Federal Agency

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source
Feedback

Help us rate this article

Thank you for your feedback

Keep in touch to see our improvement