Is Pilates Strength Training?


If you are looking for a new way to incorporate strength training and resistance training into your fitness routine, you may be wondering what your options are. 

Traditional weightlifting may come to mind but there are many other options for improving muscular strength and building muscle mass. 

Pilates is one of those other options and as Yoga and Pilates instructors we believe it’s an amazing option! Not just for the results but for the ease of being able to train at home with limited equipment. It’s extremely accessible for everyone and when done consistently you will notice significant improvements in your strength. 

Although Pilates might be most famous for creating strong core muscles, consistent practise will absolutely create total body strength and work all muscle groups. 

Is Pilates a Form of Strength Training?

Both mat Pilates and reformer Pilates are considered strength and resistance training. Pilates really works every single muscle, including small stabiliser muscles that are often forgotten. 

Whether you are using equipment or not, during Pilates classes you use your body weight to create resistance for your muscles and this makes movements more challenging. 

As with any exercise, the amount of strength and resistance training you achieve during a Pilates workout will depend on your own body, your abilities, the workout’s intensity and the style of Pilates exercises you are doing. 

All of the Pilates movements performed can be modified to achieve maximum resistance, which is perfect if your goal is strength training. If you are doing reformer Pilates, available within Pilates studios, the equipment itself can be adjusted to increase the resistance. 

On the other hand, if you are performing mat based Pilates, you can add additional equipment, such as the magic circle, resistance bands or small weights. Our preference is to use small hand weights, they are simple and very effective. These pieces of additional equipment will amp up the intensity of your workout and make your muscles work extra hard.

However, know that even adding a level of control to each move (without equipment) will also create resistance and therefore strength training.


How Often Should I Do a Pilates workout?

For healthy adults, it is recommended to perform strength training exercises at least twice per week. We like to do Pilates 4-6 times per week, but everyone is different. We like to also add Vinyasa Yoga, Yin Yoga and walking. Variety in your exercise program is good for the fun factor. We’ve written more about how often you should train over here.  

What Does Pilates Do for Your Body?

As you’ve already read, Pilates will increase your strength but there are so many more benefits! 

Some of the benefits of practising Pilates regularly include: 

Can You Build Muscle with Pilates?

Pilates will help strengthen and tone your total body, but Pilates will not make you “bulky.” You won’t add a huge amount of muscle mass with Pilates alone. If your goal is to build muscle mass and appear more muscular you’ll also need to lift weights. We’d recommend doing both, Pilates and weight training work really well together. 

What about weight loss?

After years of being obsessed with weight loss, we now choose not to focus on the number on the scales. We spent far too long focusing on what we lacked, what was “wrong” with us and our bodies. We were forever comparing ourselves to the women in the magazines. We were forever striving to lose weight, no matter what we weighed. We were forever trying new diets and exercise regimes. This way of thinking totally consumed our thoughts and it led to so much internal suffering. 

This is why we believe a mindset practice is just as important as physical workout practice. If you don’t accept how you look right here and now, no matter the changes you make, you won’t accept yourself in the future. 

This is our ethos inside MerryBody Online Studio too. This is why we don’t do before and after photos, we don’t do measurements and we don’t base our success on what we look like.  

You are so much more than what you look like! Your worthiness is not connected to your weight (ever!).

Sure, we can all make changes, we can lose weight, we can create better fitness BUT we believe it is important HOW we make these changes. It’s important that we do it in a self-respecting and caring way. That we lead with kindness. 


We want to inspire you to use your Pilates practice to build strength, to improve your flexibility, to increase your fitness and to simply feel good.

This is what happens when you welcome in a physical exercise along with a mindset practice. And this is why with MerryBody we combine the movement with the mindset practices of self-acceptance, self-confidence and joy. 

Instead of us telling you about MerryBody, here’s what Bec said. 

“I have never come across an exercise program before that was so positive for my mental health. I guess I had such a love hate relationship with exercise because I was always trying to make my body smaller. 

I have consistently shown up on my mat since November last year; there is always a class I can fit into my schedule, even if it’s a 10 minute Pilates session. 

I don’t know if my weight has changed, what I do know is that I’m in a much healthier relationship with my body; I exercise because it feels good and I feel amazing afterwards! And as Emma and Carla tell me every day: “always remember you are amazing, right here, right now”

Alright, are you ready to get on the mat? Whether your goal is to increase total body and core strength or to exercise in a way that supports your mental health and creates mind body connection. 

We’ve got a FREE Pilates class for you to try out. 


It’s under 20 minutes and it will make you feel amazing! It’s designed to strengthen your core, work the booty and side body. All you need to do is sign up over here and you’ll gain instant access to the at home Pilates class!

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla

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