Why You Do Less Reps in Pilates

As many of you know I became a Pilates mat instructor earlier this year. Learning Pilates has given me a better understanding of exercise and body movement patterns in general. I love it and appreciate it more and more everyday.

One common question I get whenever I teach Pilates – especially from regular gym goers is: Why do we only do one set in Pilates and sometimes there are only six reps instead of 10-20?

Unlike other forms of strength training, most Pilates exercises are only done 3-6 times and never more than 10. Why? Well, simply put, there are only a few reps because when you do the exercises correctly that's all you need according to Mr. Pilates.

Joseph Pilates created an intricate system of exercises for the mat and for special equipment like the reformer. According to Joseph, “Contrology [Pilates' original name] is not a fatiguing system of boring exercises repeated daily ad-nausem." Each exercise requires you to incorporate 6 principles: concentration, control, centring, precision, breath and flow. And when you do, you only need to do a few reps to reap all of the benefits.

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Pilates sessions can have around 20 exercises for a beginner all the way up to 40 or even more than 50 for an advanced, usually with each exercise building on the one that came before it. Every session includes flexion, extension, rotation and side work and each one is working multiple body parts simultaneously. The goal of Pilates is to leave feeling more connected with your body and core centre.