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Pilates Vs Weight Training

It’s that time of the year again. Everyone’s favorite (or maybe least favorite) cliché has weaseled its way back into our vocabulary - “New year, new you!” Most of us will make a New Year’s Resolution…and resolve the idea entirely by mid-February. Change can be difficult, but at Catalyst Rehab Studio, we know movement shouldn’t be.


Traditional fitness regiments are obsessed with the idea of quantification. How much can you lift? How fast can you run? How far can you swim? How many calories can you burn?

We’ve all been there. You’re feeling the burn on the StairMaster and a bold “CONGRATULATIONS!” appears across the screen. “You’ve climbed to the top of the Empire State Building!” A little smile - that feels good. Or does it? This was your post-weight training cool down. You get off the machine and everything just feels tight. There’s a strange twinge in your lower back - maybe you weren’t doing that one exercise you saw online with proper form…but, you got all your reps in. You did every exercise you planned on and even increased the weight on some of the machines.


We know that weight training can be a great thing for our bodies - increased muscle mass, improved heart health, and more. But as you apply your favorite heating pad (the fact that you have a favorite speaks volumes) to your aching muscles, you have to wonder, is weight training really the best way to get these benefits?


The truth is, while we know weight training in particular can be good for our health in a myriad of ways, we also know that this type - and really traditional exercise regiments in general - have lost something on their mission for quantification. Numerical benchmarks are good indicators of the efficacy of your chosen workout, but so much key information is lost on the qualitative side. They completely neglect how you’re moving.

The aim of traditional weight training is simple: isolate and build. I.e. target one muscle at a time and watch them grow. Though this is theoretically sound, in application it leaves many of your joints such as your - neck, shoulders, lower back, hips, and ankles unprotected - your body isn’t prepared to brace itself against the weight. This means that rather than isolating and building each muscle individually, your body recruits other muscles to participate in the lifting (Doubtful? Next time you’re at the gym watch some people arch, swing, etc. to lift the weight). This type of exercise also tends to shorten and tighten the muscles and decrease flexibility, and leave your heating pad to do double time.


In contrast,

The language of Pilates is not based on isolating individual muscles, but the movements of the joints and the skeleton.

How is that so? Consider some of the cues you’ve heard (or will hear soon, if you’re heading our studio for the first time!) in your last Pilates session.


You’ll notice words that are inclusive of the entire area needed to complete a motion.

Shoulder - not bicep or tricep

Hips - not quads or hamstrings

Ever hear this one?

"You are as old as your spine." - Ancient Chinese Proverb

Clearly this idea isn't anything new.

Joseph Pilates has plenty of quotes of his own concerning the spine. He put the spine and the core at the center of The Pilates Method. Pilates maintains a movement first philosophy: focus on the movement and your body recruits the right muscles for the job.


So, Pilates or weight training? The truth is that it is all about your goals. Weight training is definitely better for creating bigger muscles, but Pilates and its movement first approach is much more effective in building lean and functional muscles. For some, the best strategy is Pilates AND weight training in tandem! Learn how to move with Pilates, and put your knowledge to work as you lift. Our Catalyst Team is here to help you develop the perfect plan to make the most of your movement!

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