Is Pilates a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workout?




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If you’re just getting started with Pilates you’re likely figuring out that it is a very versatile exercise system. In recent years, there has been a growing trend to incorporate high intensity interval training as part if a regular routine, but does Pilates count as HITT?

No, Pilates is not a HIIT workout. HIIT workouts are high-intensity interval training workouts that are designed to push your body to its limits. Pilates is a low-intensity workout that focuses on strengthening and stretching the muscles.

HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is a type of workout that involves short bursts of intense exercise, followed by brief rest periods. This type of workout is becoming increasingly popular because it offers many advantages, such as improved cardiovascular fitness and weight loss.

Pilates also involves bursts of intense exercise, but these are typically performed for longer periods of time than in HIIT workouts. Additionally, Pilates exercises are often less strenuous than those involved in HIIT workouts. As a result, Pilates may not provide all the same benefits as HIIT workouts. However, combining Pilates with HIIT can be an excellent way to achieve even greater fitness results.

In fact, Pilates can be used in conjunction with just about any other form of exercise such as running or weight lifting. It’s also an excellent complement for cardio exercises like swimming, biking, or jogging.

What is Pilates?

As a Pilates instructor, this is a question I get asked a lot by potential clients.  They often assume it’s the same as yoga because it uses a mat and helps to make you bendy. 

Pilates is a form of exercise that focuses on strengthening the core muscles and improving flexibility.

What I fell in love with when I took up Pilates is that it’s one of the few forms of exercise that can be done anytime, anywhere.  You can do it on your own, you can do it in a group.  You can practice at home, in a dedicated studio or on a beach.

It really is an amazingly versatile system and a great way to get fit, lean and reduce internal body fat (which many people suffer from).

What is a HIIT workout?

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a type of workout that involves short, intense bursts of exercise followed by brief rest periods. HIIT can be done with any type of workout routine it’s just a case of applying the method of high intensity followed by rest.  HIIT workouts are simple and require no equipment or complicated instructions to learn how to do them properly.

HIIT is a great way to get in shape quickly because it produces weight loss without commanding a huge amount of time out of your normal schedule.

Anyone who enjoys running or participating in other forms of cardio exercise can do a HIIT workout. The best part about HIIT is that it’s short but intense – you can complete a HIIT workout in just 30 minutes or less!

What is an example of interval training?

An example of a basic interval training workout would be alternating between a very fast sprint and a moderate jog for a set amount of time. For example 60 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds of jogging, repeating for 10 minutes.

HIIT is a very efficient way to work out and has been shown to burn more fat than traditional steady-state cardio exercises like jogging or cycling.

You can also do this with any other cardio exercises like biking, swimming, rowing etc.

HIIT workouts can be VERY hard

30 minutes might not sound like much, but make no mistake, a well-structured high-intensity training session will leave you dripping in sweat and your heart pounding.

It’s therefore important to make sure you’re physically OK to tackle an interval workout, if you’re unsure you should consult your doctor.  If you’ve never done a high-intensity workout before I would recommend seeking out professional instruction at a local gym or with a personal trainer, before attempting any solo workouts.

The number of moves in a HIIT workout

The wonderful thing about a HIIT workout is that, like Pilates, you have a massive selection of moves you can put together in different workouts.  But how many moves are in a typical HIIT session?

The number of moves in HIIT workouts can vary depending on the routine you’re following, but typically there are around 10-15 different exercises.

It’s typical to do each exercise for 30-60 seconds before resting for 30-45 seconds, or you might do a block of moves and then have a longer rest.

You alternate between short periods of high-intensity exercise and low-intensity recovery periods. The high-intensity intervals should be at 80% or more of your maximum heart rate, while the low-intensity intervals should be at about 40% of your maximum heart rate.

How does Pilates compare to HIIT workouts?

Pilates is a great workout for anyone, be they beginners or long-time fitness addicts because it is low-impact and helps to build strength and flexibility.  In fact, many athletes are realising the benefits it offers on rest days, see: Can you do Pilates on your rest days? Here’s the truth

A typical Pilates workout is very different to a typical HIIT workout.  As Pilates is a low impact workout that focuses on core strength and flexibility you’ll find it is done in a slower, more controlled manner.  HIIT is a high intensity workout that targets cardio fitness and therefore the workout tends to be done at a much faster pace. 

FocusFlexibility, posture, core strengthCardio, weight loss
Typical workout duration30 – 60 minutes20 – 30 minutes
Equipment requiredMat, other equipment optionalEquipment optional
Fitness level requiredAnyAny, but check with Dr first
Pilates vs HIIT

As both are popular you can check out a wide range of example workouts for free via platforms such as YouTube. 

However, compared to other HIIT workouts, Pilates may not be as effective for weight loss or muscle building.

When it comes to HIIT workouts, Pilates is a great option for people who are looking for something that is more challenging than their regular routine, but also want to maintain their current fitness level. Unlike other HIIT workouts, Pilates-HIIT allows you to enjoy several advantages, such as increased cardio and training benefits, efficient muscle use and improved body composition.

In addition, Pilates-HIIT can be done with little to no equipment, which makes it easier to practice on your own and more convenient as well. If you are looking for a way to mix up your current HIIT routine or are just starting out with this type of exercise, then consider giving Pilates-HIIT a try!

Which workout is right for you-Pilates or HIIT?

As they’re both very different you might be wondering which would be the best one to start your fitness journey with.  

Deciding on Pilates vs HIIT will depend on your goals and preferred workout style.  Both offer a wide range of benefits. Pilates is done in a slower, more controlled manner, whereas HIIT tends to be fast and intense.

They’re both a great way to get, and stay, in shape, so why pick between them, in fact why keep them separate at all?

Can Pilate and HIIT be combined?

Given that the HIIT method is a principle that could be applied to any form of workout you’re probably wondering if there is such thing as HIIT Pilates.

Yes! Pilates and HIIT can be combined into a single session.  Many people combine Pilates and HIIT exercises because they complement each other so well. Pilates is a great way to focus on your core muscles, while HIIT provides an excellent cardio workout.

Wondering what that might look like?  I created a 4 part workout you can access for free on YouTube, here is part one which will get your heart pumping and help strengthen your body.

HIIT complements and supports Pilates in its beneficial impact on the body because they focus on both large and small muscle groups. HIIT is an excellent way of building aerobic capacity, while Pilates helps to tone muscles. When done together, these workouts provide an outstanding way to increase fitness and stamina.

What is interval Pilates?

If you’re researching this area you might also come across the term interval Pilates, but what is it?

Interval Pilates is a type of Pilates that alternates between high- and low-intensity exercises in order to keep the heart rate up and the body guessing. This type of Pilates is great for people who are looking for a more intense workout, or for people who are short on time.

It’s designed to give you a total-body workout in a short amount of time.  This type of training can help you burn more calories and improve your cardiovascular health.

Interval Pilates is a type of exercise that alternates bursts and recovery phases. This form of exercise is a great way to get in shape because it allows you to work at an intensity that is appropriate for your fitness level. You can increase the intensity of your workout by doing more intense bursts, or you can reduce the intensity by doing shorter or less intense bursts.

One way to measure the intensity of an interval training session is to use your perceived level of exertion. This scale ranges from 0, which means no effort at all, to 10, which means maximum effort. You should aim to reach a 6 or 7 during your interval training sessions.

It’s the same principle as HIIT, but may be moderately less intense.  If you’re looking to join a class then you can think of the terms interval or HIIT Pilates meaning the same thing.

Final Thought

Mental and physical fitness are so important to maintaining a high quality of life and so mixing up workout types is a great way to keep things interesting and challenging.  Depending on your fitness goals you might want to try one before the other, but at some point I highly recommend combining both Pilates and HIIT to get the best of both worlds.

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