Are Weights, Aerobics or Pilates the Best Way to Lose Weight?


You can achieve weight loss with a variety of workouts, including weight training, aerobics and Pilates. However, each form of exercise provides unique benefits and can lead to varying long-term and short-term health benefits, including weight loss. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each workout will help you to shape your routine and achieve your personal fitness goals.

Weight Training

  • Weight training is an effective long-term weight loss tool. A study published by "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal" in 2010 showed that weight training over several years resulted in decreased body weight and smaller abdominal girth than when compared to aerobics only. Because you increase your overall muscle with prolonged weight training, you can burn more calories due to a the boost in metabolism. However, weight training often causes increased initial weight gain as your body transitions from fat to muscle. Because of this, you are less likely to lose weight in the short term from weight training.


  • Aerobic exercise achieves a different goal by increasing your heart rate to a target zone for optimal fat burning. You can use a target heart rate calculator online or on your smart phone to help you determine that range. Exercising below that level will have little impact on your overall health and weight reduction. However, exercising above your zone is more likely to result in an accident or overuse injury. When you exercise at the aerobic level, you can burn calories and fat during the exercise and even hours afterward due to an elevated heart rate. Because of these factors, aerobics can provide almost immediate and short-term weight loss. However, over time you will need to continue to increase your intensity as you become more fit to continue to challenge your body and further weight loss.


  • Including Pilates in your workout routine can help you to reduce your overall size and improve balance and coordination. Also, because you are usually working muscles that are not necessarily targeted with traditional exercise, you can improve your overall strength and agility through Pilates. However, because you are less likely to significantly elevate your heart rate or build significant muscle mass with Pilates, you are less likely to achieve weight loss. Pilates can help to reduce your overall body size, especially your abdominal girth, as it focuses on creating long, lean muscle tissue, and because it hones in your back and abdominal muscles with many of its exercises.


  • An effective strategy for short-term and long-term weight loss is a combination of all three workouts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 participate in either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobics every week. The CDC also recommends that adults add two sessions of weight training to target the entire body every week. Combining all three methods of exercise will help you lose weight initially, maintain your weight loss and improve your overall appearance.

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