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The Effect of Twelve Weeks of Pilates vs Resistance Training on Trained Females

Otto, Robert FACSM; Yoke, Mary; McLaughlin, Kathleen; Morrill, Jaclyn; Viola, Anthony; Lail, Andrea; Lagomarsine, Michael; Wygand, John

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2004 - Volume 36 - Issue 5 - p S356–S357
Annual Meeting Abstracts: H-25 – Free Communication/Poster: Stretching

Adelphi University, Garden City, NY.



Pilates training is currently a popular form of exercise, which mandates specific movement patterns, unique positions and equipment, specialized instructors, and purports benefits of positive changes in body composition/appearance, flexibility, muscle function, and posture. The majority of these claims are unsubstantiated, especially in previously trained populations. PURPOSE: To evaluate the effects of twelve weeks (24 sessions) of Pilates exercise on the Reformer versus resistance training on a population of conditioned females. Methods: Twenty-four females (age 43.3 ± 5.3 yr; mass 61.5 ± 7.8 kg, ht. 165.2 ± 6.5 cm), who engaged in either resistance training and/or cardiovascular conditioning for at least one year (range 12–48 months), were recruited to participate in either Pilates training on the Reformer (P) or standard resistance training with free weights and machines (R) for twelve weeks. Pre- and post-training assessments included flexibility (6 measures), body composition (4 skinfold sites and 6 circumference measures), muscle function (leg press, chest press, curl-up, core), and posture (8 measures plus total score). Participants were matched and randomly assigned to each intervention. Ten subjects were removed from the study for non-compliance, resulting in seven participants in each group. Results: Statistical analysis by t test (P < .05) revealed significant improvement in leg press (1 RM and muscular endurance at 70% of pre-training 1 RM), core muscular endurance, back extension, curl-up, and total postural score with no significant difference between the P and R trials. The P group significantly increased sit and reach, and abdominal circumference, and decreased calf circumference, while hip circumference increased in the R group. However, sit and reach was the only variable that significantly increased more in the P vs the R group. Conclusion: Previously conditioned females respond in almost an identical manner to a supervised 12 week intervention program of Pilates Reformer exercise or resistance training, which results in moderate changes in flexibility, posture, and muscle function.

©2004The American College of Sports Medicine