top of page

Weight Training vs Pilates: What Should I Do?

Updated: Jun 4

If you're torn between weight training and Pilates, it's important to recognise that your decision will depend on various factors, such as your fitness goals, personal preferences, and any physical limitations.

Weight training is renowned for building muscle strength and increasing mass, whereas Pilates emphasises flexibility, posture, and core stability. Each method provides unique benefits that can guide you toward the best choice for your needs.

In this article, we will delve into the features of both approaches, offering a comprehensive overview of their differences and specific advantages.

Both weight training and Pilates can complement each other and significantly enhance your wellness and training program. This is especially true for women over 40, for whom I highly recommend incorporating both practices to achieve a balanced and effective fitness routine.

What is Weight Training?

Weight training involves the use of overloads to introduce resistance to the movement

required by the exercise.

Weight training falls into the category of resistance training. All forms of weight training follow the same fundamental parameters.

The macro-parameters include:

● Intensity: Measured as a percentage of the one-repetition maximum (%1RM).

● Volume: Represents the "amount of work" performed.

The micro-parameters of volume include:

● Repetitions (reps): The number of times an exercise is performed consecutively.

● Sets: Groups of repetitions performed with rest intervals between them.

Time Under Tension (TUT): The duration for which muscles are under stress during the execution of the exercise, related to the loads used.

● Density: Indicates the proximity of stimuli within the same set, i.e., the recovery times between sets.

Weight training includes the use of equipment such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, specific machines, and even body weight to create resistance to overcome.

Some examples of weight training exercises are:

● Strength Training: Back Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press

● Bodybuilding: Bicep Curls, Dumbbell Lunges, Overhead Press

● Improvement of Motor Functionality: Kettlebell Swing, Turkish Get-Up, Plank

● General Well-being: Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, Leg Press

What are the Benefits of Weight Training?

Now let's look at the benefits and advantages that can be gained from practising weight


Increase in Muscle Mass: When supported by a proper diet, weight training promotes an increase in muscle mass.

Improvement in Athletic Performance: Enhancing muscle strength with weights undoubtedly leads to improved athletic performance.

Strengthening of Connective Tissue: Weight training strengthens muscle sheaths and tendons.

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Benefits: Training focused on muscular endurance improves stroke volume, reduces resting heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and enhances respiratory capacity.

Preservation of Bone Density: In older age, weight training can prevent bone thinning and, in osteoporotic individuals, promote the restoration of bone density.

Development During Growth: Well-calibrated training in young people supports anabolic processes, ensuring peak bone mass and offering epigenetic advantages useful in adulthood.

Improvement in Body Composition: Weight training favours lean mass over fat mass, with significant metabolic benefits on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, glycaemic control, uricemia, and triglycerides control.

What are the Drawbacks/ Limitations of Weight Training?

Despite the numerous benefits, weight training also has some disadvantages and limitations:

Risk of Injury: Performing exercises with incorrect technique can cause injuries, such as muscle strains, tendinitis, or joint injuries. Additionally, using excessive weights without proper progression can increase the risk of injury.

Joint Stress: Weight training can put stress on the joints, especially if attention is not paid to technique and recovery.

Medical Conditions: People with certain medical conditions, such as cardiovascular problems or previous injuries, may need to avoid or modify weight training.

Nervous System Stress: Very intense training sessions can fatigue the central nervous system, requiring prolonged recovery periods for full restoration.

To achieve optimal results, a well-structured training plan is necessary, which can require specific knowledge and time to develop.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a training system created by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s, aimed at enhancing flexibility, strengthening the core, improving balance, and correcting posture.

This exercise system emphasises body control, precise movements, and breathing, combining elements of yoga, dance, and gymnastics.

Examples of Pilates exercises include the Hundred, a core stability and breathing exercise, the "Roll-Up, which stretches and strengthens the spine, and Leg Circles, which enhance hip mobility and core strength.

An effective variation of traditional Pilates is Reformer Pilates, which uses a machine called the Reformer. This device consists of a sliding carriage, adjustable springs for resistance, straps, and bars that allow for a wide range of dynamic exercises adaptable to individual needs. The Reformer enables smoother and more controlled movements, enhancing strength, flexibility, and muscular coordination.

Common exercises on the Reformer include Footwork, which works on the legs and core stability, the Long Stretch Series, which strengthens and stretches the entire body, and the Short Box Series, which challenges the core through various twisting and flexing movements.

Looking to begin your Pilates journey with us? Book a Pilates class here (based in Neath, Port Talbot).

What are the benefits of Pilates?

Let's now look at the numerous benefits of practising Pilates:

Improvement of Coordination and Breathing: Helps synchronise movements with breathing, improving movement efficiency and respiratory capacity.

Improved Pelvic Floor Strength: Postnatal Pilates gradually rebuilds pelvic floor strength after pregnancy and labour.

Muscle Definition: Tones and sculpts muscles, improving physical appearance.

Firming and Toning of Glutes and Abs: Strengthens and tones these specific areas, improving muscle shape and function.

Management of Pain Associated with Poor Cervical and Lumbar Posture: Targeted exercises help reduce and prevent pain caused by poor posture.

Positive Influence on Cardiovascular and Respiratory Capacity: Improves heart and lung capacity, promoting better body oxygenation.

Mental Relaxation and Reduction of Tension and Fatigue: Reduces stress and promotes relaxation, enhancing mental well-being.

Management of Anxiety and Improvement of Self-Control: Helps develop greater calmness and emotional control.

Core Stabilization, Essential for the Pelvis, Spine, and Shoulder Blades: Improves core strength, supporting proper posture and preventing injuries.

Prevention and Relief of Back Pain by Improving Posture: Strengthens back and core muscles, reducing the risk of back pain.

Strengthening the Muscles Around the Neck, Shoulders, and Torso: Enhances support for the head, reducing the risk of neck pain.

Increase in Self-Esteem and Mood: Enhances self-perception and emotional well-being.

Activation of Blood Circulation to Combat Cellulite: Improves circulation, helping to reduce cellulite.

Benefits for Joint Mobility, Especially with Full ROM Exercises: Improves flexibility and joint mobility.

Learn more about the benefits of Pilates here.

What are the limitations of Pilates?

Not as Effective as Weight Training for Significantly Increasing Muscle Mass: That said, Pilates can still greatly improve core strength and achieve a toned physique.

Effectiveness Can Heavily Depend on the Quality of the Instructor: Not all instructors are equally qualified or experienced, so it's important to choose an instructor with proper certifications and experience.

It May Take Time to See Significant Results: Although the benefits of Pilates may not be immediate, consistent practice leads to lasting improvements in strength, flexibility, and posture.

Cost of Equipment: Pilates classes, especially those using equipment like the Reformer, can be expensive. However, the investment can be worthwhile for the health benefits.

Pilates is excellent for core strength and flexibility, but it may need to be supplemented with other forms of exercise for goals such as weight loss or increased cardiovascular endurance.

Is Pilates or Weight Training Better for Weight Loss?

Both Pilates and weight training can aid in weight loss, but they achieve this through different mechanisms.

Weight training excels at building muscle mass, which boosts the basal metabolic rate and enables the body to burn more calories even while at rest. Resistance exercises with weights can create an afterburn effect, known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), which keeps the metabolism elevated for several hours after the workout.

Pilates, on the other hand, is less intense in terms of immediate calorie burn but offers unique benefits for weight loss through improving flexibility, muscle tone, and posture.

This approach aids in creating long, lean muscles, enhances body awareness, and can

alleviate stress, a common factor contributing to weight gain. Additionally, Pilates can be

an excellent complement to a weight training program, providing a low-impact workout that helps prevent injuries and improve joint mobility.

To achieve the best results in weight loss, combining both forms of exercise with a balanced diet and an active lifestyle is the most effective strategy.


In conclusion, we have seen that both weight training and Pilates offer a wide range of

health and wellness benefits.

Weight training is particularly effective for increasing strength, muscle mass, and improving body composition, while Pilates excels in enhancing flexibility, coordination, and posture, as well as offering significant mental health benefits.

Many people incorporate both forms of exercise into their fitness regimen, taking advantage of the complementary benefits of each practice. This integrated approach

allows for a complete and balanced workout without having to choose between the two.

I recommend Pilates for those over 40, as it is a low-impact discipline that can help maintain mobility, core strength, and joint health, while also promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

To learn more about the wonderful world of fitness & Pilates, including your complete guide to reformer Pilates and how to choose a Pilates mat, check out our Pilates & fitness blog, and to book a class, head over to our bookings page.

10 views0 comments


bottom of page