Today we discuss the strength training and Pilates. Strength training, also known as resistance training, is performing exercises that increase muscle strength and endurance with either body weight or external weights. Pilates is a form of strength training, but it does have some limitations. Tune in to hear how Pilates can complement your strength training!
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Here are some super cool Pilates teachers who also promote other forms of strength training!
Nikki Naab-Levy @naablevy
Adam McAtee @adammcateepilates
Sabrina Castro @sabrinathefitnesswitch
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[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can support the podcast by visiting buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts. Let's learn something new.
[00:00:46] Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. I'm really excited today to be answering a question that was asked by Kriss on Instagram, and that was about strength training [00:01:00] and Pilates. And so today we're going to look at what is strength training? Is Pilates strength training? How can Pilates complement other forms of strength training? And kind of see what shakes out from there.
[00:01:15] Strength training can be defined as doing exercises that are designed to increase strength and or endurance. And sometimes this is also known as resistance training. These might be exercises that you're doing with your body weight, or they might be exercises that are using some external form of weight or resistance. Based on that definition things like weight training and Pilates would both qualify to be strength training.
[00:01:51] If you think of the first time you got on the reformer and did foot work and you felt tired in your legs [00:02:00] afterwards, then you know, that exercises in Pilates can challenge our muscles and ask them to do more than what they normally do, which would then be increasing strength, right? Because, well, let's back up a bit actually.
[00:02:16] How do we get stronger? How do we build our endurance in exercises? There's three ways that we can change our muscle, our skeletal muscle, right? Our skeletal muscle are the muscles in our body that move our bones around for us. We can change the load, how heavy the thing is that we're lifting, moving, twisting, pulling, whatever. We can change the number of repetitions, and we can increase the power, change the speed. Or change the speed- I would put power and speed together. So when you do something like foot work versus [00:03:00] a body weight squat, if you think about footwork, it's just squats, but lying down. You might be pressing more up to maybe more than your body weight away when you're pushing the footbar away and pushing the carriage out, opening the springs, and then bending your knees, pulling the carriage in, in this way, you're asking your body to do more than what it normally does.
[00:03:25] So even for things like in mat Pilates, where you're rolling up to seated, right? Your body is used to carrying its own body weight around. Like that is something that we're kind of used to, but by repeating that action of the roll-up multiple times, you're asking your body to do something and already does, but it's doing it for longer than it normally does it. And so you get stronger.
[00:03:51] Same thing if you're increasing the speed of things. So that same footwork that you start to get kind of used to. If you [00:04:00] change the speed, whether that's drawing the carriage in slower, really resisting the spring resistance, or whether that's moving faster or changing the load by doing a single leg, something like that, all of those things are going to increase our muscle strength, increase our endurance in those given exercises. All of those things are increasing our strength and endurance in Pilates. But I will say that there is a bit of a finite point in Pilates that doesn't necessarily exist or isn't- I don't want to say it's like a small point because you can really challenge yourself in Pilates. I'm trying to think of a, a better way to say it.
[00:04:42] Pilates has a finite amount of resistance that it can give you in any of the exercises. So if you get to the point where you're doing footwork with all the springs on, the reformer can't give you any more resistance. I mean, you could get heavier springs, I guess. You can [00:05:00] definitely change the repetitions and the speed, but you can't change the load.
[00:05:07] And for some exercises like swan, where you're lying on your stomach, you can't increase the load too much or you'll slide off of the box. For a mat Pilates. You know, you can continue adding external weight to the exercises, but there's going to be a point where that's no longer feasible. So if your goal is to really develop strength, Pilates can definitely get you partway. But if your goal is to do a chest press with a certain number of pounds, you're going to have to practice doing that chest press at increasing loads and increasing repetitions, things like that. There are more feasible ways to add load than just adding springs in Pilates. It's [00:06:00] a lot easier to add weights in a deadlift than it is to try to MacGyver some like incredible Pilates exercise. Right.
[00:06:10] And I'm going to talk about this a bit more in the second part, but it just comes down to that every exercise system has limitations. So if you're looking at strength training, as you know, I want to lift really heavy things, which is a goal in some strength training, there are limitations to what Pilates can do to get you there.
[00:06:30] So while Pilates isn't the only, or best form of strength training for- or I would say, even though Pilates, isn't the best form of strength training for that particular goal, perhaps of lifting heavy things, another person with a different goal who's coming to Pilates with a different starting strength, you know, Pilates could be incredible strength training for someone. [00:07:00] And it could be great strength training for you your entire life, but it's not the only strength training option, of course, out there.
[00:07:10] I also wanted to chat about this because I've had people in my classes who come specifically to Pilates because they don't want to get bulky in terms of their muscles. They don't want to be too muscular. Or they want to really develop these long, lean muscles. And those are a little bit of a myth, to be honest, because you know, picking up a weight that's heavier than five pounds, doesn't turn you into a bodybuilder. In fact, to get the muscular definition and toning of a bodybuilder, there's very intentional diet choices, the exercises that you're doing are very intentional in terms of increasing load and how many [00:08:00] repetitions and how much time you're spending in the gym. Things like this, just because you pick up a kettlebell does not mean that you're going to get really bulky shoulders or anything like that. A lot of times it's genetic, you know what our body looks like and there's a multitude of factors, including, but not limited to your diet, that are also going to influence the kind of results that you see from any form of a strength training or exercise regimen.
[00:08:30] So coming up after the break, I'm going to share with you how Pilates can complement other forms of strength training, and sort of some of the beauty, I would say, in Pilates' limitations as an exercise system and as a strength training system. And then also share with you some resources that if you're really interested in learning more about strength training. Um, there's some cool people that you can look to to learn more about that. That's coming up next.[00:09:00]
[00:09:04] Hi there. Enjoying the podcast? Me too. Make sure you subscribe wherever you're listening so you get notified about new episodes and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There you can make a one-time donation or become a member with the donation of as little as $5 a month. Members get some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit links.OliviaBioni.com/affiliates and check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. Now, back to the show.[00:10:00]
[00:10:04] So we've established that Pilates is in fact, a form of strength training. And that it is not the only form of strength training, and depending on your goals and what you're starting from, also your access to some of the Pilates equipment or Pilates teacher, Pilates may or may not be a good fit for you in terms of strength training.
[00:10:26] I think what this comes down to in Pilates is that one of the goals of Pilates is balanced muscle development. And one of Joseph Pilates overarching ideas about his exercise system was that you would do the whole system. He didn't favor arms or legs or abs. And I know that that's wild to people who really equate Pilates with core strength, whatever that [00:11:00] is. You know, I've talked about the core, what it is in terms of what muscles make it up. But Joseph Pilates didn't have exercises that were core exercises. He focused on whole body movement and balanced muscle development, that you are going to work everything all the time.
[00:11:18] The strength that you gained when you do Pilates is a side effect of that balanced muscle development and whole body movement, the same way flexibility is a side effect. The same way your balance improving is a side effect, the same way your stress level being alleviated is part of it. That wasn't really the goal of the exercise system. The goal was to do all of those exercises.
[00:11:48] So depending on what your strength goal is, and I just saw some wild video of a woman breaking the dead lifting a record, and she lifted 636 [00:12:00] pounds. So if your goal was to lift 636 pounds in a dead lift, Pilates is definitely not the way that you should be training to do that. Because again, if that's your goal, we want to do things that are similar to our goal to help us get to that goal. So if you want to lift heavy things, you have to practice lifting heavy things, which if you're doing something like Pilates, where the class that you take is going to be, you know, moving your spine in all directions and, you know, touching on all the parts of the body as you move through these exercises. You know, that's not going to get you to that goal very quickly necessarily.
[00:12:40] So in that regard, because Pilates has more of a general focus on the entire body and overall wellbeing and health, it can be a really great complement to those intensive forms of strength training, where you are really focusing on lifting the heavy thing or strength [00:13:00] training that, for some reason, like weightlifting is the thing that's really stuck in my head, but really any form of strength training, Pilates can complement because the movements are, you know, more general. So what you're missing out on when you're practicing lifting the heavy thing, Pilates is definitely good at getting in there and work on and work with.
[00:13:22] I'm not sure if this is something that women and I don't even know if I can say all women, but women that I've interacted with in Chicago having this concern about being too muscular or too strong. I don't know if there's an aesthetic that Pilates gets tied to- I mean, it's the same aesthetic that like all exercise systems, I feel like- get tied to that this like really thin person.
[00:13:51] But the main idea that I'm getting at here is that Pilates can increase your strength. And there are ways that you can continue to increase your strength [00:14:00] as you do Pilates, whether it's changing the springs so that you have more or less load depending on the exercise, changing the speed at which you're executing the exercise, doing more repetitions of an exercise. All of those things are going to continue to ask your muscles to get stronger, to support you in those movements. But depending on you, depending on your goals, you might end up needing more than that. In which case, alternative forms of strength training might be a better fit.
[00:14:31] If you're really interested in strength training and what that can mean for you in your body, if you're looking to cross train, which is definitely awesome anyway, because no one form of exercise can check all the boxes for us. We know that. There's some really great accounts on Instagram that you can check out and I'll be linking them in the show notes. But I really recommend that you check out Nikki Naab Levy. [00:15:00] She is a Pilates teacher, but she's got this really cool adventure going on with kettlebells. And she's really an advocate for strength training. Adam McAtee Pilates and Fitness. Adam is also a Pilates teacher, but does a lot of really cool strength training stuff and is really an advocate for lifting heavy things. So if that's something you're interested in learning more about, he's a really great resource. And another Pilates teacher who I really love is Sabrina the Fitness Witch. And she's a Pilates teacher, but also crushing it in the gym as well, strength training style, or I should say weight training style as well. And she's also a really great source of inspiration. And so I will link to all of those super cool people in the show notes. And I will tag about them on Instagram if you're following the podcast on Instagram. [00:16:00] Those are all cool things.
[00:16:02] Really big thank you to all my supporters on Buy Me A Coffee. I appreciate your support. I appreciate your questions and your comments and your messages of support on that Buy Me A Coffee page as well. Huge shout out to Linda for contributing some coffees to the project. I appreciate that. Thank you so, so much. I hope you have a great couple of weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.
[00:16:36] Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. Be sure to check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual and subscribe wherever you're listening. Interested in teaching Pilates too? Check out Pilates Teachers' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
[00:16:59] I [00:17:00] hope to see you next episode. Until next time.