Weight Loss

Pilates for Weight Loss: Learn About Pilates and How it Affects Weight Loss?

Mehak Shah

June 2, 2023

Pilates as a form of exercise has been gaining traction for a decade now. Though designed in the 20th century, mainly for rehabilitation purposes, this workout routine is picking up trend because of the wide spectrum of customisable exercise sequences, meant for all. The low impact of the training caters to people who want to promote mobility and strength. It also assists overall body awareness. 

The conversation around achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has changed. It is no longer about physical appearance only but about overall wellbeing. In the times when there are numerous workout regimes like aerobic exercises, yoga, swimming, circuit training, etc. Pilates are considered a favourite among people. This is because it is known to condition the assimilation of body and mind. Its versatility, adaptability, and potential benefits for a wide range of individuals have contributed to its popularity in the fitness world.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a form of workout of the body and mind designed to promote flexibility, improve strength and posture. It generally involves all the major muscle groups and helps in developing core strength. Developed by Joseph Pilates, the exercise sequences in Pilates are majorly focused on the six principles that assist overall body awareness. 

The Six Principles of Pilates

  1. Concentration: Pilates accentuates the importance of focus and concentration during training, along with ensuring proper form that attends to the engagement of muscles. Concentration helps individuals develop body awareness and gain maximum control over their movements.
  2. Control: The exercises are performed with absolute control, emphasizing quality of movement over quantity, and thus avoiding momentum or jerky motions. Control allows for smoother, safer, and more effective, conscious movements. Leveraging the mind and targeted muscles to gain control. 
  3. Centering: Pilates emphasizes the activation and strength of the body’s core muscles, known as the “powerhouse,”. Every movement in Pilates stems from the center. This includes the abdominals, lower back, hips, and buttocks. Centering promotes stability, balance improves posture, and enhances overall body strength. 
  4. Precision: Each movement in Pilates aims for precision and accuracy while focusing on alignment and proper muscle activation. Precision in each exercise is intended to learn the correct technique, targeting specific muscle groups and maximizing their effectiveness. Precise movements also help improve body awareness and promote better control over the body’s alignment.
  1. Breath: This is an integral part of Pilates. Proper breathing techniques are targeted to enhance oxygen flow, promote relaxation, and support core engagement. The breath is simultaneously coordinated with the movements, bringing in focus, relaxation, and effective muscle activation. Deep breathing helps oxygenate the muscles, improving their endurance and overall performance. 
  2. Flow: Pilates promotes smooth, flowing movements that transition seamlessly from one exercise to another, creating a sense of rhythm and continuity. Flow allows for a graceful and connected workout experience, enhancing the mind-body connection and facilitating efficient movement patterns.

Pilates Exercises and Equipment

There are four specialized pieces of equipment needed in Pilates. This equipment helps in breaking down the stiffness of muscles and bettering postures.   

  1. Mat Work: Mat exercises form the foundation of Pilates and can be done anywhere with a comfortable surface at home or a Pilates studio. They include a variety of movements that target the arm, back, legs, and core, utilising body weight as resistance. Mat work focuses on developing core strength and control. Various studies have discussed the role of Pilates Mat Work in improving flexibility in older women.  
  2. Reformer: The Pilates reformer is a popular piece of equipment that consists of a sliding carriage with attached springs for resistance. It allows for a wide range of exercises that targets different muscle groups which is easily done by adjusting the resistance levels. The reformer provides support, enhances controlled movements, and brings about the challenge of Pilates exercises. 
  3. Cadillac/Trapeze Table: This equipment features a bed-like structure with bars, straps, and springs. It aids various exercises that promote strength, flexibility, and spinal alignment. The Cadillac allows for a diverse range of exercises, including stretching, strengthening, and even inverted movements.
  4. Wunda Chair: The Wunda Chair is a compact piece of equipment with a spring-loaded pedal and handles. It offers a versatile range of exercises to target the core, legs, and upper body. The chair helps improve balance, stability, and overall strength through controlled movements and resistance. 

The Benefits of Pilates 

Pilates offers several benefits for weight loss that contribute to overall fitness and body transformation:

  1. Increased Muscle Mass and Metabolism: Pilates exercises focus on strengthening and toning various muscle groups, including the core, arms, legs, and back. It helps in building lean muscle mass, thus boosting overall metabolism. According to a study Pilates has proved to add muscle mass in elderly women. An observation was recorded that validates Pilates also improves metabolism and along those lines, since muscles need more energy to maintain than fat, it is responsible for burning more calories throughout the day, even at rest. 
  1. Calorie Expenditure during Pilates Workouts: Pilates workouts can be dynamic and physically challenging, thus accelerating calorie expenditure. The combination of controlled movements, resistance training, and engaging multiple muscle groups during Pilates sessions can help burn calories and contribute to weight loss efforts.
  1. Improved Energy Expenditure throughout the Day: The benefits of Pilates extend beyond the workout session itself. Pilates exercises boost the body’s overall energy expenditure throughout the day, known as the afterburn effect, or technically called the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This means that even after the workout, the body continues to burn calories at an increased rate, aiding in weight loss.
  1. Body Reshaping and Muscle Toning: Pilates exercises focus on creating long, lean muscles and promoting balanced muscle development. This can result in body reshaping and toning. As excess body fat decreases and muscles become more defined, individuals may notice improved muscle tone and increased overall strength.
  1. Enhanced Posture and Body Alignment: Pilates emphasises proper body alignment, core strength, and postural awareness. Studies prove the impact of Pilates exercises on the postural alignment of healthy adults. Regular practice can lead to improved posture, alignment, and spinal stability. When the body is properly aligned, it can function optimally, reducing the risk of injuries and discomfort during workouts. Additionally, an aligned body tends to appear slimmer and more streamlined.
  1. Low-Impact Nature and Suitability for Different Fitness Levels: One of the advantages of Pilates is its low-impact nature, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals, including those recovering from injuries or with joint sensitivities. The controlled movements and emphasis on core strength reduce stress on the joints, while still providing an effective workout. Pilates exercises can be modified to suit different fitness levels, allowing beginners to gradually progress and challenge themselves as they build strength and endurance.


Pilates offers numerous benefits for overall fitness. It increases muscle mass and metabolism, promotes calorie expenditure during workouts, improves energy expenditure throughout the day, reshapes the body, enhances posture and body alignment, and is suitable for individuals at various fitness levels. Incorporating Pilates into a weight loss journey can contribute to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight while improving overall strength, flexibility, and well-being.

The Role of Pilates in Supporting Weight Loss

  1. Increased calorie burn: Pilates exercises engage multiple muscle groups, which leads to an increase in energy expenditure. This, combined with the focus on controlled movements and proper form, can result in a higher calorie burn during and after a Pilates session. A controlled trial conducted on overweight and obese people, concluded that pilates help in burning calories more than other exercises. 
  1. Enhanced metabolism: The development of lean muscle mass through Pilates can have a positive impact on your metabolism. Muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than fat tissue, meaning that as you gain muscle, your resting metabolic rate increases. This can result in more efficient calorie burning throughout the day.
  1. Muscle development and increased calorie burn: Pilates exercises are designed to engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, promoting muscle development and toning. This leads to an increased metabolic rate and more efficient calorie burning throughout the day, even on elderly women. A pilot study on postmenopausal women reflects that regular Pilates increased their abdominal, upper, and lower limb strength.
  1. Targeting core muscles for a leaner appearance: Pilates is all about improving core strength, targeting the muscles in your abdomen, lower back, and pelvic region. Strengthening and toning these core muscles helps create a leaner and more sculpted appearance. It also accentuates postures in people. 
  1. Stress reduction and emotional well-being: Pilates promotes relaxation, mindfulness, and stress reduction through its focus on breathing techniques and the mind-body connection. Studies have proved that Pilates contributes to uplifting mood and stress management. So, by reducing stress levels, Pilates can help prevent emotional eating, which is often a barrier to weight loss. 


Remember, while Pilates can be a valuable component of a weight loss journey, it is important to combine it with a balanced diet, cardiovascular exercise, and an overall healthy lifestyle for optimal results.

How can you Add Pilates to your Weight Loss Routine?

Incorporating Pilates into a weight loss routine involves setting clear goals and scheduling regular Pilates sessions. Whether it’s through muscle building, flexibility improvement, or overall fitness enhancement, dedicate some time to Pilates, or at least aim for 2-3 sessions per week to see results.

To optimize weight loss, combine Pilates with cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling, or brisk walking. This will not just help you burn calories but improve cardiovascular fitness, immune functioning and achieve better weight loss outcomes. Gradually increase the intensity as your fitness level improves, focusing on proper form and technique to maximise the benefits and minimise the risk of injury. Keep track of your progress, reassess your goals, and adjust your Pilates routine accordingly for continuous improvement. 

Remember to consult with a fitness expert to tailor your weight loss routine to your individual needs. Diet and workout have been the essential components of any weight loss and fitness journey. While diet can help in tracking calories, engaging in physical activities like Pilates promotes calorie burning, muscle development, cardiovascular health, and improved metabolism. It can bring about a transformative effect on the mind and enhances the quality of life.

HealthifyMe Suggestion

Pilates has picked up in trend specifically, for older age groups it can be really helpful. You can slowly advance the movements. Work on your flexibility along with strength. 

Along with diet if you do pilates you can work on weight loss as well as gain muscles. Not only that but Pilate helps you improve your cardiovascular health and improve your metabolism. To lead a healthy lifestyle, keep in mind to incorporate Pilates with a balanced diet, cardiovascular activity, and a holistic approach.


Pilates is a versatile and effective form of exercise that can be incorporated into a weight loss routine to support overall fitness and body transformation. Its customisable exercise sequences, low-impact nature, and focus on core strength make it suitable for people of all fitness levels. 

Along with weight loss, Pilates also helps in improving muscle tone and definition, promoting injury prevention and balanced muscle development, reducing stress and emotional eating, and enhancing concentration and mindful eating habits. Remember to combine Pilates with a balanced diet, cardiovascular exercise, and a holistic approach to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Can you lose weight by doing Pilates?

Yes, Pilates can contribute to weight loss. It can help you burn calories, tone and strengthen muscles, correct body posture and improve flexibility. It can also improve metabolism and help you lose weight when combined with a healthy diet and overall active lifestyle. 

Q. Can Pilates help you lose belly fat?

Pilates can help you tone and strengthen your abdominal muscles, but spot reduction of fat in specific areas is not possible through any exercise alone. Losing belly fat requires a combination of regular exercise, including cardio exercises to burn calories, and a healthy, balanced diet. Pilates can be a valuable part of a comprehensive weight loss program by promoting overall fat loss and improving muscle tone.

Q. Is 20 minutes of Pilates a day enough to lose weight?

While any physical activity is beneficial, including 20 minutes of Pilates a day may not be sufficient on its own to achieve significant weight loss. For weight loss, it’s generally recommended to engage in moderate to vigorous aerobic exercises for at least 150 minutes per week, combined with strength training exercises. Pilates can complement your weight loss efforts, but it’s important to incorporate other forms of exercise and maintain a healthy diet.

Q. What burns more fat in yoga or Pilates?

The calorie-burning potential of both yoga and Pilates depends on the intensity and duration of the exercises. Generally, high-intensity yoga styles like Power Yoga or Vinyasa Flow can burn more calories than a low-intensity Pilates session. However, Pilates can still be an effective way to improve muscle tone, flexibility, and overall body composition. The choice between yoga and Pilates should be based on your personal preferences and goals.

Q. What happens if I do Pilates everyday?

Regular Pilates practice can bring various benefits when done correctly and in moderation. If you do Pilates every day, you may experience improved core strength, increased flexibility, better posture, enhanced body awareness, and improved muscular endurance. However, it’s essential to listen to your body and allow for rest and recovery. Overtraining or pushing yourself too hard without proper rest can lead to fatigue, muscle imbalances, or injury. It’s recommended to include rest days and vary your exercise routine for optimal results.

Q. Is Pilates better than the gym?

The choice between Pilates and traditional gym workouts depends on your goals, preferences, and personal circumstances. Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and body awareness, while gym workouts often offer a broader range of exercises, including cardio, weightlifting, and machine-based training. Both Pilates and gym workouts can be effective in improving fitness and overall health. Consider your goals, interests, and available resources to determine which approach suits you best.

Q. Can Pilates change your body shape?

Regular Pilates practice can positively impact your body shape by improving muscle tone, strength, and flexibility. Pilates exercises target multiple muscle groups, with an emphasis on core muscles, which can lead to a leaner and more sculpted appearance. However, it’s important to note that significant changes in body shape also require a balanced diet, overall weight management, and a holistic approach to fitness. Pilates can be a valuable component of a comprehensive fitness routine to enhance body shape and overall well-being.

Resource Sources

  1. Comparison between static stretching and the Pilates method on the flexibility of older women
  2. The effect Mat Pilates practice on muscle mass in elderly women
  3. The effects of pilates exercise on lipid metabolism and inflammatory cytokines mRNA expression in female undergraduates
  4. The impact of pilates exercises on the postural alignment of healthy adults
  5. Acute effects of Pilates on mood states among young adult males
  6. The effect of an eight-week Pilates exercise regimen on stress management and cortisol levels in sedentary women
  7. 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
  8. Pilates for Overweight or Obesity: A Meta-Analysis

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.

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