HIIT vs. Pilates: Which Is More Effective?




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HIIT and Pilates are two different types of exercise that benefit your health. While some people choose to do one or the other, some may do both. If you’re thinking about signing up for either of these workouts, you may be wondering which is more effective. 

HIIT and Pilates are as effective as one another, depending on your goals. Pilates is generally better for balance and flexibility and has positive weight loss results. HIIT may be better for those looking to build stamina and strength.

However, the results of both workouts will depend on your body composition and what time you dedicate to it. So which is right for you? Let’s take a look at HIIT vs. Pilates!

What Is HIIT?

HIIT is short for high-intensity interval training, a type of exercise that alternates between high-intensity and low-intensity exercise periods. HIIT has gained popularity in recent years due to its effectiveness in burning fat and building cardiovascular endurance and its ability to be modified for all levels of fitness (beginner through advanced).

HIIT workouts are typically shorter than traditional workouts with more rest between sets. However, they can also be longer depending on your fitness level and goals. Some HIIT workouts include running sprints or using an elliptical machine at full speed for 30 seconds before slowing down to a jog for two minutes, followed by another 30-second burst of speed work.

Types of HIIT Workouts

HIIT workouts can be performed in various ways. Still, sprinting, jump rope, rowing, and body weight exercises are the most common. If you’re looking for a more structured workout routine that involves HIIT intervals in the gym or at home with some equipment (like a treadmill or elliptical machine), consider trying out these classes:

  • Spinning class
  • Boxing class
  • Bootcamp or CrossFit

HIIT workouts are also a great way to fit in some exercise if you’re short on time. You can try doing HIIT intervals at home with no equipment or running sprints around your neighborhood. If you want to take it up a notch, try adding some resistance bands into your routine for added resistance. 

If you’re looking for more structure, try taking a class at your local gym or working with a personal trainer. You can also find online workouts that walk you through HIIT exercises using dumbbells and bodyweight moves.

Benefits of HIIT

HIIT workouts are intense, quick, and effective for weight loss. These workouts can be done anywhere, with minimal equipment, and in a short time.

Unlike traditional cardio, which may overtrain you by pushing your heart to its limits (and then some), HIIT programs are designed to give you an intense workout with shorter bursts of activity followed by short rest periods. You’ll be able to get the benefits of cardio while also building lean muscle mass–all while losing fat!

HIIT also helps improve your metabolism so that even after leaving the gym or studio, you continue burning fat at an accelerated rate throughout the day and long after your workout ends. This type of exercise is also known for increasing mental focus and improving moods, so it can also help relieve stress.

Who HIIT Doesn’t Work For

The problem with HIIT workouts is that they can be too intense for some people, especially those with PCOS. Some people with PCOS may need to avoid HIIT because it can worsen their symptoms due to raised cortisol levels. If you feel like you’re always in fight or flight mode because of how your body responds to HIIT, then you probably shouldn’t do it regularly.

If you have a heart condition, joint problems or high blood pressure, you may want to proceed with caution before doing HIIT. If you have asthma or diabetes and haven’t been cleared by your doctor, also avoid HIIT.

Even if you don’t have any of these health conditions but are still wary about trying out this new workout routine, there are other reasons why it might be better not to start doing HIIT immediately. If you’ve recently had an injury–whether something minor like a sprained ankle, or more serious like a broken arm–it makes sense not to jump into high-intensity exercise too quickly after the injury occurred. Give yourself time to heal first!

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is a great workout for all ages. If you’re young and want to stay limber, or if you’re older and want to maintain your flexibility, Pilates is your go-to. It also offers a workout that’s ideal for injured people who can’t get into the gym or participate in other exercises. Pilates is also a safe option for pregnant women looking to keep up with their fitness goals before the baby comes along–and even after!

Pilates won’t make you bulk up like HIIT, so if bulking up isn’t your goal, then Pilates might be better suited to help tone muscles instead of building them up. Pilate’s focus on core strength is great for improving posture and overall body balance and control (especially when it comes down to balancing while holding onto equipment).

What Pilates Workouts Are Like

Pilates uses resistance (weights, bands) to improve posture, mobility, and balance, while strengthening the muscles in your back, abdominals and legs. The main focus is on moving from the center of your body by using deep breathing techniques to enhance muscle control throughout each movement or stretch. 

Muscle groups are isolated, so they don’t get fatigued as quickly during workouts that last between 15-60 minutes per session, depending on how much time you have available for exercise at home or during travel outside.

If you’ve never tried Pilates I’ve got a great beginner workout for you.

Different Types of Pilates

There are quite a few different types of Pilates, making the workout suitable for most people. You can try the next if one doesn’t work out for you! The most common types of Pilates are:

  • Classic Pilates
  • Reformer Pilates
  • Wunda chair Pilates
  • Mat Pilates
  • Pop Pilates
  • Hot Pilates
  • Contemporary Pilates
  • Power Pilates

I’ll break down a few of the most popular ones below. 

Classic Pilates

Traditional Pilates focuses on strengthening muscles through specific exercises known as “moves.” These moves target the abdominals, back muscles, and leg muscles. Traditional Pilates can also be performed on equipment like machines called “reformer” or “wunda chair.”

Hot Pilates

Hot Pilates is a style of Pilates that uses infrared heat lamps to warm up muscles before you start your workout. This style of Pilates has become popular in recent years because it allows people to get a good sweat going without having to spend hours in a sauna or hot yoga class before they even start their routine!

Pop Pilates

Pop Pilates is a more upbeat version of classic Pilates that incorporates cardio moves like mountain climbers and jumps. It also focuses on using weights to increase the intensity of your workout. This method was created by Cassey Ho, who posts most of her pop Pilates workouts online. 

Yoga Pilates

Yoga Pilates combines traditional yoga poses with traditional Pilates movements to create an intense full-body workout that focuses on stretching and toning muscles. This training style takes about 30 minutes per session but can be done at home or studio if you don’t have access to the equipment needed for some types of Yoga. 

Power Pilates

Power Pilates builds strength, raises your heart rate and really fires up your core muscles. You can choose to use weights to add in an extra challenge.

Benefits of Pilates

Even though it was developed in the early 20th century, Pilates has only recently begun to gain popularity in the United States. This is likely due to its focus on exercises that strengthen and lengthen muscles while improving balance, coordination, posture, and flexibility.

While there are many benefits of Pilates, here are some of the most notable:

  • Improved posture. Doing Pilates exercises consistently over time helps improve your posture by strengthening the muscles that hold up your spine properly. This means less low back pain or pinched nerves and fewer headaches or migraines.
  • Increased flexibility. The stretching component of Pilates helps increase flexibility in all parts of your body so you can move more easily without discomfort or pain. It also allows you to do more intense exercise safely later on if you want to add strength training into your routine too!
  • Better mood. There is tons of evidence pointing to exercise as an endorphin booster!

Who Pilates Doesn’t Work For 

Pilates might not be a good choice for you if you have a pre-existing back, neck, or shoulder injury. Pilates is a gentle exercise that focuses on core strength and flexibility. It may not be effective if you want to burn as many calories as possible or build muscle mass.

If you have lower back pain, you should visit your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Pilates can help prevent future injuries, but may aggravate existing conditions if performed incorrectly.

If you have a heart condition, Pilates is safe if done under the supervision of an instructor with experience working with people who have similar medical issues. It’s important to note that Pilates does increase heart rate, so participants must listen closely when their instructor tells them when they should stop exercising due to fatigue or dizziness (signs of overexertion).

Truly, though, Pilates is for everyone. You can go slower, more gently, or make different focused moves for your particular body. 

HIIT vs. Pilates: Which Is More Effective?

Both workouts offer different types of exercise, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for in a workout before deciding which one is right for you. The one that is the most effective will depend on what your personal fitness goals are. 

HIIT workouts are short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest periods. While the overall duration is shorter than with Pilates (and other similar forms of low-impact cardio), the intensity is much higher. It requires greater energy output from your body. HIIT trainers typically recommend that each burst lasts anywhere from 15 seconds to five minutes, depending on your fitness level and the equipment used. 

Pilates classes focus more on bodyweight exercises while adding resistance bands and weights as they progress; this kind of flexibility means that most people should be able to find something appropriate for their needs within this type of class setting. Pilates also focuses more heavily on core strength training than HIIT does. 

The Bottom Line

Now that you know what HIIT is and how it can help you get fit, you might be wondering if it’s right for you. Generally speaking, HIIT is a good choice for those who want to burn fat, build muscle and increase their overall endurance. It’s also packed with the benefits of exercise: it boosts your mood, improves sleep quality, and boosts energy levels even after your workout ends!

On the other hand, Pilates may be as effective as HIIT at helping weight loss while improving flexibility and balance. However, Pilates takes longer than HIIT since there are fewer movements in each exercise session. Therefore, depending on how often you have time to train each week, this could make it less efficient than high-intensity interval training in terms of results per unit time spent exercising.

Just as there are pros and cons to both types of workouts, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. HIIT and Pilates have their merits: HIIT is more intense but shorter, while Pilates is slower but longer lasting. 

If you’re just starting out with exercise or haven’t exercised in a while, HIIT is probably a better option since it’s easier to get into shape if you’re already accustomed to regular cardio activities like running or cycling. 

On the other hand, if you already do plenty of cardio workouts or have been working out consistently for years (or even decades), Pilates may be more enjoyable because its focus on balance makes it less strenuous than high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Again, it all depends on your goals!


HIIT and Pilates both offer different types of workouts and benefit different body parts. Both can be great for your body and mind, but the key is finding the right one. It’s important to consider what kind of workout you want and if there are any injuries or conditions that would make either HIIT or Pilates difficult for you. 


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