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Is reformer pilates better than weight training?

Weights vs Reformer Pilates

If you have been thinking of starting reformer pilates because you are allergic to the gym environment or you are a gym-goer and wander if you are missing out by not practicing reformer, my suggestion is: ‘Go for it.’ While there is no need to compare reformer pilates vs weight training, as one is not a substitute for the other, in this article I will aim to do exactly that.


What does a reformer offer that gym doesn’t?

1 Unstable base: useful for core strength and coordination

No matter how many equipment a gym may have the moving carriage of the reformer is not one. This provides a unique challenge for the body, as all the postural muscles have to compensate for the instability by firing continuously in a coordinated way.

Long Spine long sequence Reformer Pilates


2 Incremental adjustments of resistance: necessary for rehabilitation

The resistance reformer machines provide is small, in comparison to that of the machines in a gym. At the same time they can be adjusted incrementally which helps a progressive load of the relevant muscle groups.

plank sideplank sequence pilates reformer


3 Versatility in exercises targeting small muscle groups: perfect for joint health & injury prevention

It is no secrete that Pilates offers some phenomenal exercises to improve strength in stabilisation muscles. The combination of straps, moving carriage and the adjustable resistance allows us to challenge these muscles in ways not possible on the mat or the gym.

pull the sword reformer pilates


What does a gym offer, that the reformer doesn’t?

1 Cardio workout

If you want to challenge your cardiovascular system it would make no sense to do that on an unstable surface. Gyms offer numerous options for cardio and while unfit individuals may get their heart rate elevated on the reformer the potential for a cardio workout is limited there.

2 feet hops reformer pilates


2 Strengthen the big muscle groups

If hypertrophy or strength is your goal, over time you need to increase the resistance against which your muscle work. Both free weights and machines in gyms can help you achieve that. If you are not keen on visiting a gym, you can use small dumbbells to compliment your reformer workouts.


The verdict

One thing that cannot be overlooked when it comes to training is you enjoying the workout. The vibe in the gym and a reformer studio are different but this doesn’t make one better than the other. Instead the 2, compliment each other nicely.