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How to Get Stronger with Pilates

In a mat Pilates class, the load on your muscles comes from the weight of your head, arms, legs while sitting, standing, lying down (back, sides, stomachs). A strategy for getting stronger in Pilates is emphasizing eccentric contractions, which means contracting muscles while they are lengthening; another is loading muscles from different body positions because similar movements feel different when we are on our backs, stomachs and or sides of our bodies. Pilates also uses some isometric contractions -- when we hold tension without movement. 

white women lying down on their backs holding exercise ball
PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to be a young, white or identify as female to do Pilates. Our classes welcome everyone.

Applying these strategies in dozens of mat Pilates exercises and their variations give us the best of both worlds: familiarity, consistency and variety!

Strengthening muscles and other connective tissues (your tendons and ligaments) happens under load. Using Pilates principles such as control and focus help you get the benefit of strength from simple movements as your muscles contract and lengthen against those forces and loads. 

Anytime that gravity might help us, we want to create resistance. For example, when you lie on your back with knees bent and lift your hips in the air, gravity helps you lower your hips. Your work is to focus on lifting AND lowering your hips against the force.

Our Mat Pilates ATX group classes also use props including Pilates Circles, exercise balls, therabands and sometimes weights to find the connections between breathing and moving and resisting or using gravity. 

In a mat Pilates class, expect to hear directions and cues that tell you were to focus, where your arms and legs are in space and in the room, as well as where you may notice sensation and effort in your body. 

If you lift medium to heavy weights for strength and conditioning, the benefits of bodyweight with mat Pilates include mobility, aided by deliberate breathing patterns that support load and create safety for the nervous system. This also improves the mind/body connection of movement and reduces stiffness and tightness in muscles and joints. Other benefits of Pilates are improved proprioception and coordination; stamina and endurance; and feeling relaxed after exercising instead of spent. 

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