Generally, a cardiovascular (cardio) exercise is any exercise or fitness activity that ups your heart rate and gets your heartbeat racing. Cardio exercises involve large muscle movement, working out over a sustained period to keep the heart rate to at least half of its maximum level.
Having a strong and healthy cardio-vascular system means that your cells burn more fat for a sustained period, even when you’re inactive. This is because cardio workouts trigger capillaries to deliver more oxygen to the cells in your muscles.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, works out the muscles using your own body weight or a tool/item/apparatus that provides resistance, like a dumbbell or weights. The goal is to increase lean muscle mass, which is great when you’re trying to lose weight.
That’s because when people are losing weight, they are losing muscles along with it. Resistance training ensures that you retain a healthy level of muscle mass. With Strength Pilates, for instance, think of a body that’s lean and long like a dancer’s instead of bulky and compact like a bodybuilder’s.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week. And that strength exercises or resistance training be included in people’s workouts at least twice per week.
How Cardio Exercises Work
Cardiovascular exercise is also called aerobic exercise, the purpose of which is to make the heart pump more oxygenated blood and deliver more oxygen to the muscles. Examples of aerobic exercises are those done with cardio machines usually at the gym, or Zumba and aerobics classes.
Cardio workouts don’t have to be like the usual workout with the reps and sets. They could be as ordinary as biking, running, swimming, walking, or dancing. Though some people prefer a more structured program like spinning classes, an hour or two on the elliptical machines, or boxing.
Overall, improving cardio fitness will make us feel fitter, more active, and less prone to stress. But there’s also a downside to a purely-cardio fitness regimen. It could lead to micro traumas in some parts—like when long-time extreme cyclists develop muscle strains or joint inflammation.
For those trying to lose weight, note that high-intensity cardio burns more fat, which is denser than carbohydrate. To burn fat, muscles need more oxygen but when you work out hard and fast, you get more out of breath, so less oxygen reaches the muscles.
How Strength Pilates Work
What Strength Pilates does is tone your muscles—and reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass, and burn calories efficiently in the process. You can start out at a pace that you’re comfortable with and do basic routines your body is strong enough to move up to the next level.
Pilates does not over-develop some body parts and under-work others—it is a whole-body fitness regimen. With or without the Reformer and other equipment, Pilates exercises are intended to increase core strength but, at the same time, give the entire body a balanced workout.
Pilates makes full-body fitness possible by including breathing techniques and mind-wellness into the exercise program. Because it’s not as physically taxing as cardio, Pilates is great for those who are just starting out with their get-in-shape goals, people rehabilitating from an injury, and most senior citizens.
You can do Strength Pilates on a mat using weights or everyday items around the house like a chair or handy containers filled with water. These are low-impact exercises that work on the back and chest, butt and pelvis, and other core muscles you didn’t know could use a workout.
Pilates can help with back pain and body aches caused by a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Bad posture from too much sitting misaligns the spine and twists our back muscles. Strength Pilates corrects our postural alignment by progressively building up the body’s resistance and endurance.
Another goal of Strength Pilates is to enhance the body’s flexibility and improve balance, so we can move naturally with ease. It’s especially beneficial for senior citizens who are having trouble keeping steady on their legs or lifting stuff around the house.
Pilates or Cardio: Which should I choose?
As almost all physical fitness experts and the HHS suggest, an ideal exercise regimen is a combination of Pilates and cardio exercises. Pilates stretches, strengthens, and balances the body. Cardio gets the heart racing and develops the specific muscle that’s being worked out.
When deciding which fitness program to take up, it would help to ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want to lose weight or build strength?
- Do I want a dancer’s body or a bodybuilder’s body?
- Do I want to develop certain muscles only or get me some whole-body workout?
- Do I want just a physical exercise or a body-mind wellness regimen?
The big advantage of Pilates over cardio, however, is that you’re also taught to control breathing to better handle stress. When we’re stressed, tension progresses to pain, which could weaken the immune system. So, it’s important to learn not just to move correctly but also think properly.
Why Pilates Plus?
Still having problems making up your mind? Check out our Pilates programs here at Pilates Plus in Singapore. Aside from Strength Pilates, we also have Pilates Mat and Pilates Equipment sessions, including the Reformer Plus class, a unique hybrid of Reformer and non-Reformer sessions.
Although group sessions are less expensive, we recommend taking private sessions if you’re a beginner. It’s because the essential techniques should be adjusted to suit your own needs and physical capabilities, and you have to get accustomed to the equipment.
But don’t worry, we’ve made our monthly packages accessible to all (at $345 per month, unlimited, for all classes) so everyone can join! So, if you want to see lean muscles, visible improvements to your posture, and tangible results in terms of flexibility and stability, come on in!
Whether you’re female or male, younger or older, a workout newbie or a seasoned athlete, it’s good to include Pilates in your weekly workout. With Pilates, the more you train, the better you get at your daily tasks. And as it gets to be a regular practice, body-mind balance will come naturally to you.
More than a straightforward workout, Pilates is about achieving mind-and-body harmony, freedom of movement, and a zest for life. It’s an activity not just for the athletically inclined but, dare we say, everyone looking for a path to health, happiness, and new horizons.
At Pilates Plus Singapore, it’s not just a matter of taking classes, it’s embarking on a journey to health and joyfulness, with our certified trainers as your guide. To help you get its full benefits, here are five of our pro tips to help get you started, sustain the practice, and discover a passion for Pilates.
(1) Be consistent with your movements
At the gym, we can be forgiven for not doing our sit-ups or leg raises uniformly as long as we can push ourselves to complete the prescribed number of repetitions. Admit it, sometimes your last reps aren’t as well executed as your first few. Some don’t even get to those last reps at all!
But if you want to get the maximum benefit of Pilates then you must perform the workouts in their entirety and go through the motions with as much consistency and fluidity as you can muster. It’s all about taking control over your “rest” and “effort” of every exercise.
At the effort stage, we physically and mentally prepare for the exertion, breathing in as our muscles contract. The part where we exhale, rest, and get set for the next repetition is the return phase. The key is to be consistent with the execution of both the effort and rest phases of the workouts.
By doing so, you get the maximum benefit of each movement, giving your body the support it needs to come to rest in a safe and correct way. It’s not enough to get up then lay back down on the mat quickly, you have to do it the right way by engaging the targeted muscles, to do it safely.
Everything First-Timers Need to Know About Pilates. READ ON!
(2) Maintain the proper form at all times
In Pilates, each exercise is part of a set that naturally progresses to the next, so it’s important to be in the right form from start to finish. Mindfulness comes into play when you make every movement count—training both body and mind to function optimally.
Always engage the specific muscle group that the exercise is targeting. Think of it as both a physical and mental exercise to help you master Pilates naturally over time. If you want to improve your strength and stamina, try holding the last rep on each exercise as long as you can.
When you’re standing, pull your shoulders back and let your hands rest against the side of the hips, not the thighs as this causes you to slump. This way, you’re also developing the right posture and elongating your spine—making you look taller and leaner.
Be mindful of how you tuck your ribcage—we call this the rib cage placement principle—to prevent overexertion. When you exhale, feel your ribcage slide down the torso by engaging the abs. It won’t just strengthen the muscles down there but help burn some fat along the way.
5 Awesome Benefits of Pilates Mat Exercises. FIND OUT HERE!
(3) Have 1-on-1 sessions with your instructor
In group classes, exercises are intended to meet the students’ collective goals. The instructor will be making safe and effective choices for everyone, of course, but not all bodies are alike. With more students to guide, the teacher can’t always pinpoint your specific challenges.
If you’re feeling stuck or don’t think you’re improving, and often struggling with some of the exercises in group class then a private session is a good option. It’s also better to take one-on-one classes when you’re recovering from injury or feeling some discomfort when executing the movements.
Once a week or once a month is fine, depending on your body and budget. It’s money well spent ensuring you’re doing the right movements and getting the right results. You’ll have the instructor’s undivided attention in fine-tuning your Pilates training to your comfort level and personal goals.
You can still attend group classes—and enjoy the company of other students—but private sessions can speed up your journey to body-mind harmony. Group classes may be more affordable but occasional private sessions (for starters) can do wonders!
Why choose trainers from Pilates Plus? FIND OUT!
(4) Try both Pilates Mat and equipment training
Remember that Pilates is a whole-body workout with a system of movements, breathing, and mental conditioning. If you want to maximise the results of Pilates then it’s best to do both matwork (floor) exercises and workouts on the Reformer and other Pilates equipment.
After all, that’s exactly what founder Joseph Pilates had in mind when he created the movements. Traditional or classical Pilates suggests doing an hour of combined mat and Reformer exercises to get an efficient whole-body workout.
If you’re wondering, basic Pilates Mat is made up of approximately 22 exercises that can be done in half an hour, or less if you’re past the beginner stage and are moving at a good pace. Besides, it’s an entirely different experience working out on the Reformer, with its springs and tension cables!
You can sign-up for Pilates Plus’ online classes and do Pilates Mat at home or when you’re on travel. But it helps if you could make a trip to the studio, at least once a week, for some Reformer action! Then the trainer can also check up on your progress with the entire program.
The Ultimate Guide to Pilates Reformer. READ NOW!
(5) Practice Pilates regularly, and sustain it
Like most fitness programs, Pilates workouts should be done at least thrice a week to get good results. But unlike other exercise fitness programs at the gym, Pilates follows a sequence—each flowing to the next in natural, purposeful succession.
In classical Pilates, the sequential flow of exercises is done on a mat using one’s bodyweight. It’s imperative that the movements are executed in the exact sequence, and in the designated number of repetitions (usually no more than six reps), before moving on to the next exercise.
Mr. Pilates’ original 34-sequence method is meant to progressively warm up the body, challenge it with exertion, and then cool it down. The intent to complete the sequences is as important as the exercises. This “conjuring of intent” is an internal process, where mental fitness is also achieved.
You might get a good enough workout with a 3-times-a-week schedule. But if you really want to build strength, flexibility, and endurance, make that your minimum, not your ideal goal. In fact, founder Joseph Pilates suggested in his book, Return to Life, to do Pilates Mat at least four times a week.
What’s the philosophy behind Pilates? READ HERE!
With more than 10 years of experience, Pilates Plus Singapore can help you understand how your body works, why your movements affect your mindset.
SIGN UP NOW for our fun, affordable, and flexibly scheduled TRIAL CLASSES, and let our instructors show you what exactly Pilates can do to help you perform daily tasks with renewed energy and positivity.
Sitting for hours on end could lead to back pain. So, if you’re looking for relief, exercises that involve stretching, such as Pilates leg kicks and back extensions, could do wonders.
We spend much of our days behind our desks, commuting or driving, and watching TV or using our gadgets. What’s more, many of today’s working professionals in Singapore lead a mostly sedentary life, doing minimal physical activity.
What’s wrong with that, you might ask—sitting sounds perfectly safe and harmless. Straight up, recent research tells us that sedentary routines and habits put you at a higher risk for some chronic diseases and even premature death. A UK study also found that prolonged sitting is linked to depression.
If that persistent ache in your back is beginning to affect your movement, and when you’re struggling with everyday activities, it’s no wonder you’re often in a bad mood. It’s your body telling your mind that it has had enough of sitting. That’s your brain urging you to move!
Many of our clients here at Pilates Plus Singapore are just like you—looking for relief from pain and respite from everyday stress. And just like them, you too can benefit from Pilates to move from sedentary to healthy in both mind and body.
Bent Arm Circles During Reformer Strength Series
Sign up here for
Schedule, Rates, and Packages that Fit You Best
Particulars of Pain: Why your back hurts
Any discomfort in the lower back should not be taken lightly, whether it’s a dull ache or searing pain. In most cases, it’s the part of the spine that curves inward at the base of the back that takes the most impact when you’re seated.
The pain you feel is either concentrated in one area or radiating throughout the back along with the spine’s network of nerves, muscles, and ligaments. This is why back pain is described as lower back pain, middle back pain, or tailbone pain.
You put even more strain on the back when you’re slouched or hunched over your desk or gadget most of the time. It causes the discs between the bones to compress, which in turn causes the vertebrae to rub against each other. These fluid-filled discs are meant to cushion and prevent damage to the vertebrae when you move.
Another common reason for back pain is muscle strain, affecting the lumbar region or the lower part of the back. When you overstretch or twist, you sometimes feel an ache or a stiffening from your back down to your buttocks.
If you’ve been feeling more and more of the pain and strain, it’s a good time to take steps to correct it. Beyond discomfort, it could be symptoms of more serious problems with the bones and joints, or even herniated discs and degenerative diseases of the spine. First off, have yourself checked by a medical professional to get to the root of the problem.
Pilates for Pain Relief: How stretching helps
Pilates is a mind-body exercise that involves controlled movement, correct posture, and proper breathing. Its purpose is to tone the body, develop flexibility, and strike an overall mind-body balance. The principles of Pilates are consistent with exercise programmes that focus on aligning the spine and strengthening the postural muscles—effective in preventing and reducing back pain. Here are some Pilates poses and exercises that specifically target your problem areas.
Back Extensions are low-impact Pilates exercises focused on strengthening the lower back muscles. It entails lying face down, and lifting your shoulders and ankles a few inches off the mat. When you contract your back muscles backward and work your abs to lift your chest and chin, you should feel a pull in your lower back—that means you’re doing it right.
The Double Leg Kick loosens your lower back muscles and helps develop more flexibility. It involves lying flat on your stomach with your face, shoulders, and pubic bone pressed firmly onto an exercise mat. The goal is to lift your abs and arch your back so your navel doesn’t touch the mat. Then, using your thigh muscles, kick both legs backward in successive bursts.
The Cat and Cow Stretch, a pose that mimics a stretching cat and a grazing cow, is great for toning the back muscles without the help of any equipment. The exercise requires you to put your hands and knees on an exercise mat (like a cow grazing) and arch your back upward as you let your head and tailbone drop a few inches to the ground (like a cat stretching).
Hip Extensions are also a great workout for both the lower back and pelvic muscles. With your forearms and palms flat on the mat, place your knees beneath your hips at a 90-degree angle. Your spine should form a straight line from head to tailbone when you stretch to lift your leg backward, so the sole of the foot is facing the ceiling and the thigh is parallel to the floor.
Knee Folds are one of the most basic Pilates moves, and often done as a warmup to mat exercises. These are also a good workout for releasing stress on the back. It entails bending your knees and using your ab muscles to lift one leg off the ground until your knee is almost touching your chest. Just be sure it’s not your buttocks or legs that are doing the lifting!
Proper Pain Management: What to do first
Pilates exercises target the muscles in the abdomen, muscles that support the back, and muscles in the buttocks. The goal is to stabilise the core and gradually build it up through a controlled range of movement and breathing techniques.
Since both the body and mind are engaged, you’re not just doing physical workout but also training your brain to breathe properly and focus clearly.
The exercises in a Pilates programme can be challenging both mentally and physically, but not so much that it can cause you to struggle. If it is making you more uncomfortable, stop and consult your trainer, or seek medical help as needed.
The full benefits of Pilates may not be realised right away, just as the problems that caused your back developed over time. By learning to use your muscles correctly—by supporting instead of stressing the spine—you’ll feel the tension drain away from your muscles and your mobility increase after a few sessions.
Before deciding to take up Pilates, it’s very important to establish the root cause of your back pain. This is why we at Pilates Plus Singapore strongly recommend that these exercises be done under the supervision of trained instructors. They can also teach you the proper breathing techniques and the correct pacing required to make Pilates work effectively.
Our sessions come in fundamental, intermediate, and advanced levels, with the exercises progressing from preparatory steps to the full version of the movements at a pace that’s comfortable and safe for you.
Our classes provide workouts that build strength, tone muscles, and increase endurance, all the while teaching you how to discipline your mind toward enriching your life.
Call Pilates Plus at +65 622.118.45 now or drop us a line,
and we’ll suggest a programme that takes you closer to your own health goals.