Workout Smarter — Not Harder!

You’ve found a new exercise routine….and you LOVE it!  You’re having fun, you’re losing weight, you’re toning muscles – all is great!  You think to yourself, “this is it!  I’ve found my fitness solution!”  But then after a few months, you’re no longer seeing benefits.  The weight is not coming off as quickly.  The toning has stopped.  You’re bored.  You’re dreading your next workout.  You’ve lost interest – it’s no longer fun.  


The first thing you should know – you’re not alone!  The second – there is a very logical explanation for this.  And third – after reading this blog, you’ll know how to kick up the variety, intensity, and effectiveness of your own workouts!  In other words, this blog could also be called “how to avoid – or get over – an exercise plateau!”

Pilates is not immune to the plateau effect.  For years now, the media has espoused Pilates reforming powers.  From infomercials claiming total “Pilates body” makeovers in just a few weeks to celebrities using Pilates to shed baby weight and tone up after pregnancy, the benefits of Pilates have been heralded worldwide. Many people start an exercise system like Pilates or Yoga and see many benefits quickly.  But this is very common!  Usually when you start a new exercise regime, you see amazing results initially because your body is forced to adapt to the new stresses and stimuli.  Your body lays down muscle fibers, sheds pounds and does everything else it feels it needs to do to respond to the demands you’re placing on it.   In a nutshell, this is the “theory of adaptation”, meaning the body quickly adapts to the new stresses you are subjecting it to.  But because you have now adapted, the same routine will not provide enough stress and stimuli to take you to the next level!  What happens next?  Your body plateaus, and you stop seeing results.  The brain then recognizes the lack of progress, and this puts an enormous damper on your motivation.  


Now do you see?  Those Winsor Pilates Videos, Bender Balls, Total Gyms, QVC Reformers and at home Pilates videos are excellent products!  But if you’ve been doing the same thing for months, it may be time to change things up a bit!  By simply following some tried and true scientific principles, you can both spice up your exercise routine and prevent the exercise plateau effect, or even break out of your current exercise plateau.  Try the following tips:


1)  Don’t do the same exercise routine every time you work out.  We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”  Well, this applies to exercise as well.  Often exercisers think that they have to keep burning more and more calories in order to derive maximum benefits, and yet studies show that shaking up the exercise routine will deliver far greater results.  This concept is called periodization. We are better off varying both our exercise type and exercise intensity day to day.  In addition, studies show that taking a break from structured exercise altogether yields enormous benefits both in terms of recuperative rest for the muscles and bones as well as a revitalization of the mind and spirit.  This is often called “active rest.”

 2)      Second, vary your heart rate during your workouts.  Create the goal for yourself of accomplishing something different with each workout.  …And the goal should NOT be merely maximum calorie burning every time!  You will burn more calories in some workouts than in others.  Knowing that, focus more on varying your maximum heart rate and average heart rate during each workout session.  A circuit training regime works well when you are aiming to vary both your heart rate training zone and your target muscle groups.

SO, where does Pilates fit in with the quest to conquer your exercise plateau?  If you are working out at a fully-equipped studio, the solution is easy, as the Pilates Reformer, Cadillac (or Trap Table or even Pilates Stick), the Wunda Chair (or Malibu Pilates chair) and the Ladder Barrel each offer something unique to the Pilates experience and present specific stimuli to your muscles and core.  And even with Pilates mat exercises, even though the classical Pilates repertoire does not vary, with clever use of small Pilates equipment such as the Pilates Stability Ball, the Pilates Magic Circle or Fitness Circle, exercise bands, toning balls or the BOSU(r), classical Pilates can be rejuvenated with inspired exercises which will keep the muscles continually adapting… not plateauing!  An added bonus?  With the advent of Pilates fusion exercises featuring props and small equipment, the number of Pilates exercises to choose from exponentially increases.  With, we’ve endeavored to supply plenty variety for Pilates at home, with exercises that work the muscle groups in different ways so that your bodies don’t plateau and so that you never get bored!

A Pilates tip for our members and all who love doing Pilates at home:  why not do your favorite Pilates video, or create your own Pilates mat workout, and follow it with a brisk walk or a cardio dance routine?… or use our site as the ultimate way to circuit train with Pilates:  create your own playlist of exercises, each targetting a different muscle group, and do those in succession with some jump roping or cardio exercise for 3-7 minutes in between each section of Pilates exercises?  Remember: when your brain gets bored, this could be a sign that your body is getting bored as well.  Keep your exercise routine varied, and you will be more likely to stick to it.  Your body will both thank you and keep delivering fabulous results with Pilates or any routine!!!


October 23, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates Posts.


  1. exercise routines for pilates reformer replied:

    […] Workout Smarter — Not Harder! « The Ultimate Pilates Blog […]

  2. socialman101 replied:

    Nice article! the smarter you workout the better! As for me,I keep myself fit by using The Pilates Mari Winsor workout System

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