Pilates has become synonymous with bodies which are lean and toned. However, the benefits of Pilates go much further than simple core powerhouse strength and flexibility.
As well as the aesthetic benefits, regularly practising this total-body workout can ease back pain, improve bone density and boost your heart rate. These surprising benefits of Pilates make it an effective cross-training workout. And if you reach a plateau in your weight-loss efforts Pilates can be a great change to your regular strength-training and cardio fitness routine.
The Most Well-Known Benefit of Pilates: A great set of abs
Pilates gives your core powerhouse a workout unlike any other. “Believe it or now,” says Lisa Schneider: expert Pilates trainer and managing director of Trifocus Fitness Academy, “after finishing 36 weeks of training in Pilates, women reported that they had strengthened their rectus abdominis (which is the muscle responsible for six-packs) by an average of 21%. This is while eliminating muscle imbalances between the right and left sides of their core.”
Pilates is a Whole-Body Fitness Workout
Unlike some exercise formats, Pilates does not over-develop some parts of the body while neglecting others. Although Pilates training focuses on strengthening a person’s core, it trains the body as an integrated entity.
Pilates exercise routines are responsible for promoting strength and balanced muscle development. This is in addition to flexibility and increased the range of motion for a person’s joints.
The attention that is paid to the core support and full-body fitness, including the breath and the mind, provides a level of integrative fitness that is difficult to find elsewhere. This level of fitness is also the reason why Pilates is so popular in rehabilitation as well as with athletes who see that Pilates is a fantastic base for any kind of movement they do.
If you older and are just beginning to exercise, an elite professional athlete or somewhere in between, the foundational principles of Pilates movement apply to you. Pilates is accessible to all as it builds from core strength, focuses on proper alignment and proposes a body/mind integrative approach.
Pilates Alleviates Back Pain
A study which appeared in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy shows that subjects with lower-back pain reported significant pain relief after a four-week Pilates programme. This programme was maintained over a period of 12 months.
Pilates functions to strengthen the core in order to support the back. It teaches proper alignment and, in addition, it provides gentle stretching for tight back muscles owing to misalignment and overuse. In addition, Pilates approaches the underlying imbalances which often are responsible for poor posture and back pain. Specific Pilates exercises that strengthen the spine include the roll up and swan prep.
Pilates can Build Cardiovascular Endurance
The aerobic benefits of Pilates are different depending on intensity with which it is performed. (This is the same for all types of workouts.)
Advanced Pilates moves – such as the jack-knife and side lift – are responsible for increasing your heart rate within the target zone that it can reach. However, prone or seated exercises – such as the seated twist and leg circles – are responsible for dropping your heart rate.
“Most advanced classes will be responsible for raising your heart rate to, on average, between 120 to 130 beats per minute,” says Schneider. “The quick transition between exercises – and decreasing resting time – works best for raising your heart rate.’
Pilates Helps to Prevent Injuries
As Pilates assists with improving flexibility, increasing strength and improving balance this exercise format reduces your risk of injury.
If you’re able to increase your hamstring flexibility by 10 degrees, it will be less likely that you will hurt your back when you bend over to pick up something from the floor. If you improve your strength here this has direct links to improved dynamic control of movement. At the end of the day, this reduces the risk of injury.
Unilateral one-legged or one-sided Pilates enhances balance and reduces the risk of falls. Pilates provides body awareness to create efficient movement patterns. In so doing it reduces stress on joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
To learn more about Pilates, and perhaps even become a Pilates Instructor yourself, check out Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Comprehensive Pilates Instructor Course.