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What’s better for you – Pilates or weights?

In partnership with Kristy Curtis

We speak to the expert to compare these two exercises

A group of women at a weights class laughing at their local gym
A group of women at a weights class laughing at their local gym

When it comes to being physically active, any movement is better than none. Still, making sure you’re working your muscles as well as pushing up your heart rate is an important component of exercise. Research shows that only four out of 10 Aussie adults are doing enough muscle-strengthening exercise (at least two sessions a week). That lack of strength training is a concern, given how important it is for bone health, mobility, balance, brain health and weight management.

Consider nib your health partner when it comes to looking after your body and mind – and when it comes to building your strength, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. We spoke with personal trainer and health and wellness coach Kristy Curtis, to compare two popular forms of muscle strengthening and toning – Pilates and weight lifting – so that you can choose which is best for you.

The benefits of Pilates 

Pilates might be popular now, but the strength-based workout isn’t new – in fact, it’s been
around since the early 20th century. Originally designed as a form of rehabilitation and physical therapy, the way Pilates trains your body as an integrated whole is a major plus.

“Pilates focuses on the core, lower and upper body as well as flexibility and posture,” says Kristy. “It has a strong emphasis on improving posture and core strength, which is a great place to start for anybody beginning an exercise program.”

Its biggest physical benefits include:

  • Increased core-muscle strength

  • Improved mobility

  • Correction of posture

  • Reduced risk of falls (for senior Australians)

  • Joint pain relief

  • Injury recovery

In terms of mental wellbeing, a regular Pilates practice can result in better mood, more feelings of calmness, and greater sense of focus.

“If you’re looking for a class, however, that will elevate the heart rate and leave you exhausted – Pilates is not that,” adds Kristy. “The focus is on lengthening and strengthening and you may not experience as much strength development as weight training, either.”

Woman rolling up her pilates mat in her loungeroom

The benefits of weight lifting

You might think of weight lifting as something for serious gym goers only, but weights
are now an increasingly accessible – and encouraged – part of any strength-based workout. 

It can be performed with free weights – such as barbells and dumbbells – or with weight machines at a gym or fitness studio. And with many of us now working out from home, it’s not uncommon to have a weight – or two – in your home-set up. 

“Weight training has a multitude of benefits,” explains Kirsty. “In particular, it assists with increasing strength and lean muscle mass and decreasing fat stores.” 

Other benefits of weight training include: 

And it’s not just for young people either. Maintaining our muscle mass through weight training is particularly beneficial as we age in order to help support our bone health – decreasing the risk of osteoporosis, falls and injury. 

Related: Importance of Strength Training for Over 50s

However, just like with Pilates, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re doing,
so seek out a personal trainer or do some research.

“Poor form and technique can increase risk and injury,” stresses Kristy. “There are some great programs available on the internet.” 

Finding what works best for you

When it comes to pilates versus weight lifting, the answer is simple – both have great
benefits for your health and fitness levels. The winner is just the one that you can commit to.

“Always do what you enjoy,” says Kristy, “because you’re more likely to stick with it
long term.” 

Need a reason to keep healthy for free? Check out nib GreenPass. Not only is a GreenPass membership free, but it gives you access to a range of personalised health information, health checks, expert tips, health trackers, rewards and discounts.

Please note: Before making any sudden changes to your health routine, it’s always best to run it by your GP. The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner. 

Kristy Curtis wearing a black sports bra at the gym and smiling at the camera

In partnership with

Kristy Curtis

Kristy Curtis is one of Australia and Asia’s leading wellness experts. She discovered her passion for fitness at a young age and has since transformed that passion into a career, with a successful personal training business and as a TV presenter. Kristy strongly believes while there are some things in life you can’t control, you can take ownership and responsibility of your health by eating good food, thinking positively and keeping your body moving. Every night before bed, Kristy completes a sudoku puzzle.