Pilates is one of my favorite exercises and there are so many awesome ways Pilates tones you, so much so that you don’t ever have to step foot in a gym if you don’t want to. Do note that Pilates is not a quick way to lose weight like cardio, but it really can help tone you better than strength training can. Strength training is great for building muscle, which is very important. This protects against bone loss, helps increase your metabolism, and aids in preventing osteoporosis, but it’s not the easiest way to fine tune and fine tone muscles that are hard to do in any other fashion. This is where Pilates comes in and I find it is perfect for toning trouble spots that weight training never seemed to be quite right for. If you’re looking to fine tune your body, try it! There are many ways Pilates tones you that you won’t get elsewhere, plus you can start at home, with just your body and a mat.
1. Body Weight
One of the main ways Pilates tones you is all about body weight. To do movements, whether on a reformer machine, with cables, or just on the floor, you are required to use your entire body weight. With weight machines, you’re relying on much of the machine to work for you, and though dumbbells are great, they don’t fine tune every muscle, nor do they help with the fluid, contracted movements done on the floor like Pilates do. Those smaller muscles that are hard to tone are targeted much more efficiently with Pilates than with weight machines, and by using your upper and lower body strength to move your body, every muscle is targeted in multiple ways.
2. Core Strength
Pilates is fabulous for helping you develop core strength. This tightens and pulls in the waist line, and for this reason, it is much more beneficial than ab machines. Pilates also requires you to use your entire back and core, not just your abs. This cinches in and trims what many women call “back fat,” when combined with a healthy diet and cardio routine.
3. Fluid Muscles
What are fluid muscles, you might ask? Fluid muscles are the direct effect of Pilates, and one you definitely want to go after. Fluid muscles make your body look long and lean, instead of just cut and stocky. Though lightweight dumbbells won’t give you that stocky look, they won’t enhance the fluidity of your muscles. Fluid muscles appear longer in the legs, arms, and develop that slim, taut look versus just a muscular one. The movements Pilates requires you to do automatically help you develop these muscles, just by the way they’re designed.
4. Inner Thighs
Pilates is fabulous for your inner thighs and there are no weights required. Pilates requires lifting and cinching of the entire inner thigh through a variety of movements. For this very purpose, it pulls in muscles and tightens them in short, effective movements.
Most people don’t relate being flexible to being toned, but they go hand in hand. Being flexible not only prevents injury, but also increases how toned your body looks. By being flexible, your posture is more likely improve, which means you’ll hold yourself up better, look taller and leaner, and by doing flexible movements, you tone parts of your muscles you wouldn’t otherwise. Any body exercises that are done using only the body, such as yoga and Pilates, are great for increasing flexibility. Three years ago, I couldn’t even do a half split, and now I go into a full split very easily, and automatically. Trust me, it works!
6. Better Posture
Did you know just by having better posture that you’re training your muscles? Seriously! Holding yourself up in an upright position, not slouching, and pulling in your core all require muscles to work and be used. This gives you a flat belly fast and also utilizes your ab muscles to tighten and tone you very quickly.
Believe it or not, just by the way Pilates requires you to breathe, you’re efficiently increasing how well you train your muscles. Breathing requires a large amount of muscles, and Pilates requires you to breathe specifically in a way that makes you contract your abs. This tightens and tones better than just heavy breathing done during weight training.
While Pilates isn’t a replacement for cardio, weight training, or healthy eating, it is a great way to enhance a healthy program. You will get toned faster with it than without it. If you love Pilates like I do, what’s your favorite thing about it? I’d have to say mine is reduced stress and posture!