The Effect of Pilates on Your Muscles, Spine and Abs.

You may have a vague sense the Pilates “is good for you”, but are you still wondering exactly what physical effects you can expect from practicing the Pilates method? Pilates will tone your muscles, develop core strength, align your spine with the rest of your body, and help build body-brain connections. But Pilates is not a weight loss program, nor will it develop 6-pack abs. Read on to learn more about the physical changes you can expect from Pilates exercises.

Tone You Body With Pilates

Pilates is an overall muscle development technique that uses floor exercises, as well as specially engineered exercise machines, to stretch and strengthen muscles. Unlike more traditional resistance training methods, Pilates does not build bulky muscles. Rather, Pilates movements elongate the muscles, making them more flexible and les prone to injury.

If your fitness goals include building a significant amount of new muscle mass, you will need to include targeted weight resistance training for both your upper and lower body. But you can still include a couple of Pilates sessions each week as a supplemental form of fitness to improve your overall conditioning.

Use Pilates Exercises to Develop Core Strength

Building up core muscles is the “core” strength of the Pilates method. Your core muscles are the deep muscles that wrap your spine and keep you upright. You use your spine, and the muscles that support it, in virtually every movement you make. So it makes sense that building a strong core will benefit you in every facet of everyday life, including your exercise programs. Even if you don’t do Pilates as a primary fitness routine, the core strength you build in Pilates will help you keep better form as you run and lift weights.

Align Your Spine With Pilates Movements

Ask any chiropractor and you’ll quickly learn that the spine has a hand in every physical movement and body function you can think of. Besides improving you posture and making you feel taller, a perfectly aligned spinal column is said to ward off headaches, neck pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica and tingling in the limbs.

Pilates exercises are laser-focused on building up the muscles that support the spine including: the Transverses Abdominis muscle which encases the interior organs by wrapping around the ribs and hips from the left side of the spine to the right; the Pelvic Floor is a basket-like muscle that holds in the abs and supports the hips; the Diaphram is a muscle that works with the rib muscles to expand and contract during breathing; and the Multifidus muscle which runs the length of the spine and supports the vertebrae.

Will Pilates Help Me Lose Weight?

Pilates is not a total fitness program by itself. While regular Pilates sessions will help you tone muscles, align your spine, and promote deep breathing, it will not cause you to lose weight. If you are serious about weight loss, you will have better results by performing 4-6 hours of interval cardio training each week and following a low-car high protein diet.

Will Pilates Give Me 6-Pack Abs?

It is common to confuse core muscle strength with washboard abdominal muscles. Unfortunately, they are not the same thing. Pilates exercises builds your core by strengthening the muscles that wrap your spine. These muscles include the abdominals, but also include muscles in your back and sides.

A strong core leads to an overall integrated appearance of your torso, but it does not emphasize the Rectus Abdominus muscle that is most responsible for the appearance of 6-pack abs. If you want to develop your 6-pack, you will need to add daily crunches to your fitness routine.

As you can see, the Pilates method can create significant improvement to the strength and alignment of your body, which, in turn, can greatly impact your overall health. But Pilates is not a substitute for cardiovascular training, nor does it replace traditional weight training if the goal is to build sufficient muscle mass to lose weight.