Complete Pilates & Fitness Blog

Pilates vs. Weight Training

Sep 2015

I'm often asked by clients, friends and other trainers which form of exercise is better – Pilates or Weight Training. Let's take a look at both.

The evidence is clear...weight training is beneficial for everyone. It improves bone density, it promotes fat-free body mass, it increases the strength of connective tissue, muscles, and tendons...with all of these leading to better quality of life. However, because weight training in itself doesn't teach you how to identify when you are moving into a dangerous range of motion, it can lead to injury both in and out of the gym. We'll explain how Pilates fits into this a little later.

Traditional weight training seeks to isolate and work with individual muscles one at a time. In theory this is great, as you get the most benefit from each lift when a single muscle is isolated. However, most people (including top level athletes) don't realize that their neck, shoulder joint, lower back, hip joint and ankle joints aren't protected because their body hasn't been trained to brace itself against the forces of the weights. So, rather than isolate, they instead recruit other muscles to "help" lift the weight (watch people in the gym as they lift, and see their bodies arch, swing, etc. to gain momentum to lift the weight). The consequence of this is that when they attempt to use the same muscle outside of the gym, they again don't brace and stabilize themselves, over-extend their range of motion, and end up hurting those same "helper" muscles (like their lower back).

With Pilates, rather than dangerously recruiting other muscles, you are taught to use your stabilizer "core" muscles to brace and counteract against the destabilizing effects of the weight being lifted. This method of exercising is described as the body "working against itself", and is a core principle of Pilates. During Pilates sessions, you learn to consciously work your stabilizer muscles while doing all stretches and resistance training. You become so used to stabilizing yourself during exercise, that when you are in the real world you'll do the same. This means that you'll avoid over-extending yourself and will avoid injury.

So where does that lead us? It's clear, Pilates AND Weight Training is the best way to go! Pilates will teach you how to stabilize while you lift, allowing you to safely lift while getting the most benefits out of your workout.

Come visit Complete Pilates & Fitness in Santa Clarita / Valencia CA today!

22800 Lyons Ave. #120

Santa Clarita, CA 91321