Why do so many TikTok influencers want us to do Pilates?

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photo: Sfilipov (Shutterstock)

The latest fitness misinformation is circulating on TikTok, but I’ve seen it appear elsewhere, also. Young women extol Pilates (sometimes alongside ballet, yoga and walking), saying it helps them lose weight and build muscle that weightlifting doesn’t. Something about cortisol. As a certified personal trainer, weightlifter, and someone who has taken a Pilates class or two, I’m here to tell you: THe is utter nonsense.

Pilates won’t give you “longer, “Leaner” or “Toned” Muscles

When you make your muscles stronger, you don’t give them more “muscle tone.” The tone just means you’ve been bending. You’re also not making your muscles “longer.” They are their length, you silly goose, because each end of them is attached to your bones.

And you’re not making them “leaner,” because muscle is made of muscle, and “skinny” refers to a lack of body fat.Strength training can reduce fat, but The type of strength training doesn’t really affect this.

What’s the real difference between Pilates and weightlifting?

Pilates is a form of strength training that grew out of a physical therapy-like rehabilitation program for injured people. It emphasizes core strength, controlled movement, and learning movement patterns—Not just moving the most weight or doing the most reps, but moving your body the “right” way.In these respects, it is much like certain types of “Functional” training Done with a kettlebell and foam roller, but with different movements.

Mat Pilates is done on the floor, like yoga, with little equipment. There are tons of free Pilates videos online, of varying quality. Some are just core exercises you do while lying on your back, often mixed in with yoga moves, and serious Pilates people scoff at them. Others are more diverse and in-depth.

Then there are the courses that are done using equipment, often expensive ones. Sometimes you’ll use something like a spring attached to the wall, but the hippest and most stylish class is done using something called a “Reformer,” which is a machine with sliding rails.We have A brief guide to Pilates classes is here.

A good Pilates workout builds your muscles and can make you stronger over time.Pilates is usually no This is a good option if your main goal is to lift weights or build muscle. People who switch from weightlifting to Pilates often say they lose muscle mass.

Depending on the type of classes you take and whether you’re really trying to challenge yourself, you can get anything from an under-dose, not-so-helpful routine to something that builds enough strength to stay fit and feel more functional in your everyday life . To be fair, the same goes for many classes and lightweight strength training routines (barre, yoga, dumbbell swinging classes). Your result is whether the course is good and whether you challenge your combination appropriately.

Will cortisol stop me from losing weight?

OK, so let’s dig into the error message. The stories you’ll hear from a lot of TikTok talking heads are that they’ve done weightlifting and/or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) but couldn’t lose weight or were unhappy with their appearance. They may also notice that they feel tired or sore or don’t like exercising. Then they switched to Pilates and walking and lost weight right away.

The explanation given—and remember, this is completely fictional—lifts weights and HIIT increases levels of a stress hormone in your body called cortisol. Cortisol tells your body to keep body fat. (There may be some lengthy biochemical nonsense details here.) So, going for a lighter workout will make your body lose weight.

Relatedly, you’ll see influencers talk about how cortisol makes you gain or maintain weight during certain weeks of your menstrual cycle, thus asking you to plan your training around your cycle; or certain foods or lifestyle habits It can cause a “hormonal imbalance” or make you gain weight, which they call a “cortisol belly.”

cortisol levels do correlate with stress, which is sometimes associated with weight gain, and Medical Conditions That Affect Cortisol It affects the way your body uses fat and energy. But none of this applies to your expectations for weight training in the gym.

Cortisol levels in the blood rise after high-intensity exercise, but these levels return to normal within an hour.We also quickly adapt to high-intensity exercise because Exercise physiologist John Hoff points out here: WHis group’s ork showed that those brief cortisol spikes were much lower after 11 days of high-intensity cycling. (Other research supports this.) In other words, we get better one The more practice we get when dealing with physical stress — any athlete or coach can tell you.

When you talk to a real endocrinologist (hormone expert) or a scientist who studies exercise or metabolism, exercise-induced cortisol release is not considered a significant factor in weight gain. Not to mention that neither Pilates nor strength training is new; if lifting weights causes body fat to accumulate in people, it will be a long-term phenomenon that athletes and coaches already know how to plan for and address, not something the world is just starting to grasp. TikTok new trends.

If Pilates isn’t special, why do all these women say it works better for them?

Many reasons immediately This is the perfect time for this trend to catch on.

One major reason is that it’s a response to a trend that’s been going on for years, a thicker physique, where weightlifting is universally touted as a way to shape your hips. (this trend return Include a lot of misinformation, including Believing that “hip drop” is an aesthetic flaw that can be remedied with certain exercises; Both claims are nonsense. )

When an idea is popular, being a part of opposing it can increase engagement.i browsed a a lot of The author of Pilates TikTok is writing this, and it’s clearly an opportunity that a lot of influencers are seizing. One young woman in particular said she was seeing results from “two weeks of Pilates” that she hadn’t seen in years of strength training. (I don’t care what you’re doing, two weeks anything Does not change your body. ) After the video came a series of reaction videos, dismissing those who didn’t believe her claims. The algorithm obviously rewarded her for that—one of her videos was one of my top Pilates results—but she’s not an expert on exercise, fitness, or anything else. She posted a video of her highly requested Pilates routine, which by her own admission was just some of the core exercises she picked from free YouTube videos.

also have Wrote an article on TikTok strength training trendsI can almost guarantee that many of these people who claim that weightlifting “doesn’t work” for them aren’t lifting or lifting weights inappropriately. Squats won’t give you a bootyCrunches won’t make your abs, Exercise won’t make you lose weightand most people who do strength training Using weights too light to make a difference. Scroll back through the profiles of these Pilates lovers and you’ll see their previous workout routines. This is educational.

Another thing to watch out for is when someone tells you what they’re doing Now (even assuming they’re telling the truth) their bodies are largely made up of everything they do forward. If someone lifts weights, and has recently switched to low-intensity exercise, they can still benefit from the strength and muscle they previously built.

Finally: THe thinks these people enjoy your meal They have more routines now than they used to, most likely true. If they force themselves into HIIT (or other types of hard workouts) Tagged as HIIT), certainly They hate it. HIIT sucks, fake HIIT sucks, and if you do it just because you believe it’s the best way to lose weight, you’ll resent it because it makes you suffer or even doesn’t work.

Honestly, something similar happens with weightlifting: IIf you always lift as much as you can in the gym, you’ll get tired. At first, it’s easy to get heavier with each workout, but soon you’ll reach a point where it no longer works.if you follow a Well-designed strength training program, you’ll avoid hardships and setbacks, but most people won’t. So — again — a different workout can make you happier. It’s not because the hard work is destined to make you miserable, it’s because you get out of a frustrating situation and move on to something you happen to enjoy.

There’s one final aspect to this pro-Pilates moment’s trend: Pilates classes are fucking expensive. Small class sizes and private lessons are part of what makes it “better” than other types of training. You’ll get a lot of personal attention and learn to build your muscles the way you want, which can be helpful. But this comes with a monetary cost. So does professional equipment (you won’t find a reformer at Planet Fitness) and the prestige of a workout that’s currently popular among wealthy white women. You pay for it all.

All in all: Pilates is better than sweating at the gym because it’s trendy and a little exclusive; it’s easier and arguably more fun than the previous workout trend; it’s also the hot new thing to talk about on social media. If you love Pilates and you can afford it, enjoy it! But if not, trust me, you won’t miss it.


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