July is here and that means it is time to have some fun. Every July we break out of our routines, let go, and focus on play. This year we have a special guest to join us and guide us as we play. Kara Latta is the Chief Fun Officer at The Playful Warrior and …
If you’ve been playing the Pilates vs. weight training game (Which one is better? Which one should I choose?)—I have good news: you don’t have to choose. Even better, when you combine Mat Pilates (Pilates without a reformer, which is what we do at Lindywell) with weight training, you reap the benefits of both.
When you look closely, it’s easy to see how the two are very similar: both target the musculoskeletal system to develop strong, resilient muscles, joints, tissues, and bones. In addition, both forms of exercise can be classified as resistance training:
- Weight workouts utilize weights for added resistance
- Pilates mat workouts primarily utilize body weight for resistance
I’m often asked, “Which is better?” and I’m here to tell you that they both have benefits.
What I’ve seen, however, is that not all weight training programs are created equal. It’s imperative to bring what we know about Pilates in terms of proper movement mechanics into our weights workouts to reduce the risk of injury and actually benefit from the workouts.
Let’s ditch the Pilates vs. weight training mindset. Here’s what you need to know to get started with both!
Pilates vs. Weight Training: Let’s Break it Down
Traditional weight training relies on lifting weights as the primary form of resistance to increase muscle strength. Progressively increasing load is what leads to gains in strength, stamina, and endurance. Weight training is an important and effective way to maintain muscle mass and bone density as we age.
Mat Pilates, on the other hand, can be done with or without light weights (1-3 lbs), or other equipment to increase resistance. Whether you’re using body weight or added weight, the Pilates principles remain the same, keeping the movement focused on alignment, control, and intention.
And this is what’s often left out of weight training programs or may be missed if you’re lifting on your own: the focus on form, alignment, and breath. However, applying these Pilates principles to weight training workouts not only reduces your risk of injury but also increases the effectiveness of your weight training workout so you see better results.
Pilates and Your Core
There is one more distinction that sets all Pilates (Mat and otherwise!) apart from traditional weight training: the core. Pilates focuses on engaging the core in every movement to create stability, protect your back and build strength in your spine. It’s imperative that we add this focus to weight-training workouts for the best results.
Your body relies on this strength for nearly everything you do in life, from reaching for a glass to bending down to tie your shoes. This means weight training can be more impactful when combined with Pilates because you’re also getting that core focus.