The Ideal Schedule for Pilates Workouts

Two women with pilates instructor
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Pilates offers many benefits, such as increased strength and flexibility. It can also improve your stability and balance, primarily because its movements rely heavily on the core. But how often should you do Pilates?

The answer depends, in part, on your fitness goals as a Pilates workout schedule can range from one to seven days a week. Understanding the benefits of both once-weekly and more frequent sessions can help you select the schedule that helps you achieve your desired Pilates results.

Pilates and Your Fitness Goals

Your goals, your reasons for doing Pilates, can influence how often you decide to do these exercises. Someone who is seeking to lose weight, for instance, may benefit from a different schedule than an avid runner who is looking for cross-training activities or a person striving to improve flexibility.

So, determining the best Pilates workout schedule for you begins with thinking about why you are doing this type of workout. What Pilates results are you trying to obtain? This will help you create a schedule best suited to help you reach your goal.

Benefits of Once-Weekly Pilates

While it may seem like one session of Pilates per week isn't enough to provide any real benefits, research suggests otherwise. For example, one study found that once-a-week Pilates sessions helps improve body awareness while also increasing muscle mass, core strength, balance, and flexibility.

Another study noted that once-weekly sessions can also help people with non-specific chronic low back pain. Researchers reported that 71.6% of the participants in the once-a-week group had complete improvement in their symptoms after six weeks, with 29.7% citing improvement after the first week.

Benefits of More Frequent Pilates Workouts

In his book, Return to Life Through Contrology [Pilates], Joseph Pilates suggests that the best results are achieved by practicing his method at least four times per week. Though, performing workouts less frequently can still provide results.

For example, in a 2020 study, participants performed Pilates twice a week for 20 weeks. Researchers found significant differences in their beginning and ending skinfold measurements and body fat percentages, concluding that twice-weekly sessions can "positively influence changes in body composition."

A 2013 study sought to discover the effects of doing Pilates three times per week. After six months, these subjects had more strength in their upper and lower body, greater lower body flexibility, and improved aerobic endurance. They also had better physical mobility.

Creating Your Pilates Workout Schedule

In addition to deciding the number of Pilates sessions you'll do per week, there are other factors to consider as well.

Home vs. Studio Workouts

You can do Pilates at a studio or in your own home. If you go to a studio, the trainers there can help you create a Pilates workout schedule and routine based on your fitness goals. They can also work with you to ensure that you use proper form.

If you want to design your own home workout, it is important to follow balanced workout guidelines and not focus on just one body area (abs, for example). Starting with a proper warm-up and finishing consciously can also both lead to a more satisfying Pilates workout.

Mat vs. Equipment Workouts

Some Pilates exercises are performed on a mat. Others use additional equipment, such as the magic circle, exercise balls, and fitness bands.

One benefit of Pilates mat exercises is that you can do them anywhere. As long as you have the mat, you are ready to go. Though, using other Pilates equipment can provide greater amounts of resistance, which is beneficial for strength and strong bones.

If you do Pilates at home, many online videos are available. Some are based purely on mat exercises but many also include workouts with the smaller pieces of Pilates equipment that you can purchase for home use.

Incorporating Cardio

While Pilates offers quite a few benefits, a comprehensive fitness program also includes cardio or aerobic exercise. By adding this form of exercise, it can help reduce your risk of heart disease, improve your lung function, and lead to healthier blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

When creating your Pilates workout schedule, work in activities such as walking, biking, and swimming. This provides a more complete exercise program, offering you even more health benefits.

Pilates Workout Length

A full Pilates mat workout is approximately 45 minutes in length. However, you can still gain some benefits by performing a Pilates workout that is shorter in duration. Aim to do a full workout when you can, but a shorter Pilates workout can be better than no workout at all on days when you are limited on time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you do Pilates reformer classes?

If you take a Pilates reformer class, attending two or three days a week is often sufficient. However, this can change depending on your workout goals.

Is it okay to do Pilates every day?

Though you can do Pilates every day, this may be difficult if you have a busy schedule. Plus, doing any type of exercise daily may increase your risk of boredom while also potentially increasing your risk of overtraining.

If you decide to do Pilates every day, be sure to keep your workouts balanced and varied. It is also important to vary the intensity and focus of your workouts. Not just because your body needs rest time to recuperate and build stronger muscles, but because Pilates is about keeping the mind engaged with the body.

A Word From Verywell

When creating your ideal Pilates workout schedule, devise one that works with your lifestyle and helps you meet your specific fitness goals. While three or four workouts per week may be ideal, two or even once-weekly sessions can still offer health benefits.

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  1. Tolnai N, Szabo Z, Koteles F, Szabo A. Physical and psychological benefits of once-a-week Pilates exercises in young sedentary women: a 10-week longitudinal study. Physiol Behav. 2016;163(1):211-8. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.05.025

  2. da Silva M, Miyamoto G, Moura Franco K, dos Santos Franco Y, Nunes Cabral C. Different weekly frequencies of Pilates did not accelerate pain improvement in patients with chronic low back pain. Brazil J Phys Ther. 2020;24(3):287-92. doi:10.1016/j.bjpt.2019.05.001

  3. Kovach M, Plachy J, Bognar J, Balogh Z, Barthalos I. Effects of Pilates and aqua fitness training on older adults' physical functioning and quality of life. Biomed Human Kinet. 2013;5:22-7. doi:10.2478/bhk-2013-0005

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Aerobic exercise. Reviewed Jul 16, 2019.