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Pilates vs. Traditional Weight Lifting

What exercise is best?  Walking, running, hiking, spinning, light weights, HIIT training, heavy weights, pilates, swimming.  It can make your head spin. Each exercise type has a different focus, purpose, goal and benefits. How can you choose? Here’s what we know with absolute certainty: movement is critical for our bodies, motion is lotion and keeps our bodies aging well.  

We all know that once you’ve lived a few years of repetition in life i.e. sitting at a desk job, stocking shelves at a store, holding a baby and cleaning a house etc. our bodies change to accommodate that life and that has repercussions otherwise known as dysfunction/injury.  What we believe here at Durant Physical Therapy & Centered Body Pilates, that Pilates is foremost at improving breathing, posture and body awareness. Many research studies have shown positive results of improving static and dynamic balance, improving posture, decreasing back pain and maintaining and slightly improving muscles mass in adults.  We believe that Pilates makes EVERYTHING else that we do in life better.

Did you know that an average adults muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60? 

Let's discuss the differences and similarities between traditional strength training and pilates strengthening.  When you are on the reformer at Centered Body Pilates we focus on incorporating strength training to maintain and hopefully improve muscle mass.  But reformer strengthening isn’t designed to build major muscle mass.  Instead it creates leaner muscles. So, it defines more than increasing muscle mass. (Picture the body of a dancer versus the physique of someone who lifts heavy weights.)  

Traditional Strength Training

Progressive overload is necessary for significant increase in muscle mass. This means that you are gradually increasing the amount of weight that you lift and lifting with fewer repetitions in a structured program.  

Pilates Strengthening

But remember, Pilates utilizes body weight and lights weights to challenge the core. The practice is designed to will help maintain the solid foundation of your neutral spine, stacked torso and stabilizing musculature. 

Pilates can help many middle age to older adults access traditional weight lifting.  Most adults have a history of injury and dysfunction within their bodies preventing them from safely lifting weights despite the positive benefits.


About the Author: Francesca Durant 

Co-owner of Durant Physical Therapy and Centered Body Pilates, Francesca Durant is an experienced physical therapist and Pilates professional with specialized training in pelvic health from Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute.

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