PILATES vs CARDIO: What works for you?

Posted on Oct 15, 2020


Generally, a cardiovascular (cardio) exercise is any exercise or fitness activity that ups your heart rate and gets your heartbeat racing. Cardio exercises involve large muscle movement, working out over a sustained period to keep the heart rate to at least half of its maximum level.

Having a strong and healthy cardio-vascular system means that your cells burn more fat for a sustained period, even when you’re inactive. This is because cardio workouts trigger capillaries to deliver more oxygen to the cells in your muscles.

Strength training, also known as resistance training, works out the muscles using your own body weight or a tool/item/apparatus that provides resistance, like a dumbbell or weights. The goal is to increase lean muscle mass, which is great when you’re trying to lose weight.

That’s because when people are losing weight, they are losing muscles along with it. Resistance training ensures that you retain a healthy level of muscle mass. With Strength Pilates, for instance, think of a body that’s lean and long like a dancer’s instead of bulky and compact like a bodybuilder’s.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week. And that strength exercises or resistance training be included in people’s workouts at least twice per week.

How Cardio Exercises Work

Cardiovascular exercise is also called aerobic exercise, the purpose of which is to make the heart pump more oxygenated blood and deliver more oxygen to the muscles. Examples of aerobic exercises are those done with cardio machines usually at the gym, or Zumba and aerobics classes.

Cardio workouts don’t have to be like the usual workout with the reps and sets. They could be as ordinary as biking, running, swimming, walking, or dancing. Though some people prefer a more structured program like spinning classes, an hour or two on the elliptical machines, or boxing.

Overall, improving cardio fitness will make us feel fitter, more active, and less prone to stress. But there’s also a downside to a purely-cardio fitness regimen. It could lead to micro traumas in some parts—like when long-time extreme cyclists develop muscle strains or joint inflammation.

For those trying to lose weight, note that high-intensity cardio burns more fat, which is denser than carbohydrate. To burn fat, muscles need more oxygen but when you work out hard and fast, you get more out of breath, so less oxygen reaches the muscles.

How Strength Pilates Work

What Strength Pilates does is tone your muscles—and reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass, and burn calories efficiently in the process. You can start out at a pace that you’re comfortable with and do basic routines your body is strong enough to move up to the next level. 

Pilates does not over-develop some body parts and under-work others—it is a whole-body fitness regimen. With or without the Reformer and other equipment, Pilates exercises are intended to increase core strength but, at the same time, give the entire body a balanced workout.

Pilates makes full-body fitness possible by including breathing techniques and mind-wellness into the exercise program. Because it’s not as physically taxing as cardio, Pilates is great for those who are just starting out with their get-in-shape goals, people rehabilitating from an injury, and most senior citizens.

You can do Strength Pilates on a mat using weights or everyday items around the house like a chair or handy containers filled with water. These are low-impact exercises that work on the back and chest, butt and pelvis, and other core muscles you didn’t know could use a workout.

Pilates can help with back pain and body aches caused by a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Bad posture from too much sitting misaligns the spine and twists our back muscles. Strength Pilates corrects our postural alignment by progressively building up the body’s resistance and endurance.

Another goal of Strength Pilates is to enhance the body’s flexibility and improve balance, so we can move naturally with ease. It’s especially beneficial for senior citizens who are having trouble keeping steady on their legs or lifting stuff around the house.

Pilates or Cardio: Which should I choose?

As almost all physical fitness experts and the HHS suggest, an ideal exercise regimen is a combination of Pilates and cardio exercises. Pilates stretches, strengthens, and balances the body. Cardio gets the heart racing and develops the specific muscle that’s being worked out.

When deciding which fitness program to take up, it would help to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want to lose weight or build strength?
  • Do I want a dancer’s body or a bodybuilder’s body?
  • Do I want to develop certain muscles only or get me some whole-body workout?
  • Do I want just a physical exercise or a body-mind wellness regimen?

The big advantage of Pilates over cardio, however, is that you’re also taught to control breathing to better handle stress. When we’re stressed, tension progresses to pain, which could weaken the immune system. So, it’s important to learn not just to move correctly but also think properly.

Why Pilates Plus?

Still having problems making up your mind? Check out our Pilates programs here at Pilates Plus in Singapore. Aside from Strength Pilates, we also have Pilates Mat and Pilates Equipment sessions, including the Reformer Plus class, a unique hybrid of Reformer and non-Reformer sessions.

Although group sessions are less expensive, we recommend taking private sessions if you’re a beginner. It’s because the essential techniques should be adjusted to suit your own needs and physical capabilities, and you have to get accustomed to the equipment.

But don’t worry, we’ve made our monthly packages accessible to all (at $345 per month, unlimited, for all classes) so everyone can join! So, if you want to see lean muscles, visible improvements to your posture, and tangible results in terms of flexibility and stability, come on in!

Whether you’re female or male, younger or older, a workout newbie or a seasoned athlete, it’s good to include Pilates in your weekly workout. With Pilates, the more you train, the better you get at your daily tasks. And as it gets to be a regular practice, body-mind balance will come naturally to you.