Fat Burning Workout Programs and Pilates

Women sitting on the fitness balls and doing stretching exercises.
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It would be my pleasure to tell you that among its many benefits, Pilates is the best fat burning exercise in the world, and all you have to do is Pilates and you will be slim no matter what. That's not quite the case. Pilates can be extremely helpful as a part of an overall fat burning workout plan, but a few other elements have to be in place for optimal effectiveness.

How much fat a workout burn depends on how much energy it takes to accomplish it. We get our energy from food calories. If we have calories that are not burned in a workout or by life processes, we store them as fat. If your workout requires more calories than you have taken in, your body will burn fat to help fuel your workout.

Fat Burning and Pilates

There are ways to increase the fat burning potential of a Pilates workout. Increasing the speed at which you do a routine, the level of difficulty of the exercises, and the length of the workout all burn more calories and move you closer to a fat burning stage.

Weight Loss Exercise Recommendations: Strength and Cardio

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACM), 150 to 250 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise will promote weight loss. Clinically significant weight loss occurs at over 250 minutes per week. That could be four to five Pilates sessions per week. However, those sessions would have to be fairly high level to meet the intensity you need for significant fat burning.

A better solution is to do a mixture of cardio and strength and flexibility training throughout your week. That combination is known to be best for promoting overall fitness and weight loss. Pilates is the moderate weight training/flexibility part of the program. And Pilates is ideal for that. 

The Aerobic Workout

Don't be intimidated by the idea of adding aerobic (cardio) exercise to your workout program. You can start with all kinds of activities that keep your heart rate up for a sustained period of time: walking, dancing, jogging, swimming or any number of other fun activities.

So how much cardio do you need? The physical activity guidelines for Americans suggest 2.5 hours per week of moderate aerobic (cardio) exercise or 1.25 hours of high-intensity cardio. Learn more about combining Pilates and cardio training:

The sample fat burning exercise program outlined below will give you 2.5 hours of moderate cardio and a minimum of 2 hours of strength training. That will put you right in the weight loss zone of just over 250 minutes per week of moderate exercise as recommended by the ACM. Of course, you can mix and match as is right for your body and schedule, and increase intensities as appropriate.

Sample Fat Burning Exercise Program

Day 1: Pilates 40 - 60 min, cardio 30 min
Day 2: Cardio 30 min
Day 3: Pilates 40 - 60 min
Day 4: Cardio 30 min
Day 5: Cardio 30 min
Day 6: Pilates 40 - 60 min, Cardio 30 min
Day 7: rest day or make up for a missed day

Diet and Weight Loss

An article on exercise and fat burning wouldn't be complete without mentioning the other half of the fat burning equation: what you eat. Diet and exercise go together to promote weight loss -- after all, you could do all the cardio and Pilates in the world and never lose any weight if you eat all the calories back.

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Marguerite Ogle MS, RYT
Marguerite Ogle is a freelance writer and experienced natural wellness and life coach, who has been teaching Pilates for more than 35 years.