Is Pilates Good For Weight Loss?

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Getting in shape does not require you to the standard forms of exercise. Find out whether pilates is good for weight loss and how it compares to other options.

Losing weight requires you to get and stay in a situation where you burn up more energy than is coming in from food.

Pilates is good for weight loss in the sense that it does help you burn a bit more energy.

However, it is important to keep in mind that there are many workouts that are a lot more effective for losing weight.

Additionally, your habits in areas like the things you eat will influence your results from pilates a lot.

You should likely see the extra calorie burning as a positive side effect but keep your eyes on the main benefits of pilates.

If you are serious about losing weight, you want to consider other workouts or making changes in other areas of your lifestyle like your diet.

Can you lose weight by doing pilates?

First of all, it is worth mentioning that you can lose weight by doing pilates but that just doing this workout more often is not always enough to see results.

If you want to lose weight, you need to make it so you are using more energy than is coming in from the things you eat. At this point, you start using energy stores like body fat.

The movements involved in pilates are likely more intense than many of your typical daily activities at home or work. In turn, you will burn more energy which makes it more likely you get into the situation above.

At the same time, the principle above also means your habits in other areas like your diet still need to be good enough to see weight loss results.

It is possible to do pilates every day without losing weight if you don’t take care of these other areas.

Additionally, you also want to know how pilates compared to other workouts in terms of effectiveness. There is only so much time you can exercise more.

What is the difference between pilates and yoga for weight loss

Calories burned pilates vs other workouts

To get an idea of how good pilates is for weight loss compared to other workouts it can be helpful to look at calorie-burning estimations for these activities.

How many calories pilates burns is hard to predict accurately but even suboptimal numbers can help in this comparison.

A 185-pound (84 kg) can burn more or less the following amounts of calories while doing the activities for 30 minutes (1, 2):

  • Pilates (general): 131 calories
  • Water Aerobics: 168 calories
  • Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 168 calories
  • Swimming (general): 252 calories
  • Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 294 calories
  • Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 294 calories
  • Running 5 mph: 336 calories
  • Elliptical trainer (general): 378 calories
  • Jumping rope (fast): 503 calories

It is true that what pilates exercises you do, whether you use equipment options like ankle weights, and much more can influence your results.

At the same time, it should be clear that there are many exercise alternatives you can do at home or in the gym that are more effective than pilates for weight loss.

Can pilates help you lose belly fat?

Many people get the impression that you can lose belly fat specifically by doing core-heavy workouts like pilates. Unfortunately, it is generally not possible to target your fat loss in significant amounts.

At the same time, pilates can still change your body in areas like your stomach. If you lose enough weight, you will also lose more and more belly fat.

Keep in mind that this is a relatively challenging fitness goal. Many people will not be able to achieve this by only doing more pilates.

Woman doing a beginner pilates exercise

How much pilates should you do to lose weight?

The number of calories you burn with pilates makes it clear that there are more effective exercises.

Even so, they also indicate that you can see at least some weight loss results from this workout. You may wonder how much pilates you should do to achieve certain goals.

By now it should be clear that your habits in areas like your diet will influence this a lot. However, by temporarily assuming all the extra calories you burn with pilates come from fat, you can get a few interesting estimations.

A 185-pound person doing 20 minutes of pilates 3 days a week will burn an extra 261 calories which is about 0.08 pounds (0.03 kg) of body fat.

If the same person does these pilates sessions for four weeks, they will burn an extra 1044 calories or about 0.3 pounds (0.13 kg) of body fat.

Even if you are not familiar with weight loss workouts, it should become somewhat clear that pilates does not offer the most impressive effects.

How long does it take to see results from pilates?

You may do pilates for other reasons and wonder how soon the extra positive side effect of burning more calories can show up.

In this area, you can see the results you get from pilates during the workout.

Burning more calories happens in the moment and pilates does not really have a lot of long-term effects in this area.

However, due to the small number of calories you burn with pilates, it can be hard to visually see the differences. There are also other energy stores your body may use before turning to body fat.


Is pilates a good way to lose weight?

No, pilates is not a good way to lose weight compared to the many other workouts and changes you can make. Workouts tend to help with weight loss by burning a lot of energy and/or building muscle mass. Pilates is not that effective in these areas.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.