Pilates with weights, the perfect combination to tone muscles and lose weight with minimal effort


Tamara Villa

Doing Pilates is a great way to work the physical and the mind in a way that is quite affordable for all ages and fitness levels. It’s easy to imagine
adding hand weights to a Pilates workout and in fact many people do. But should you? Probably yes.

Talking about weights and Pilates doesn’t mean adding huge iron plates to your daily exercises. Not much less. Rather it is about
incorporate light hand weights, generally one or two kilos. Light weights are used because there are risks associated with using heavier loads when doing any exercise other than specifically weight training.

muscle toning

There are many benefits to occasionally adding hand or wrist weights to your Pilates workout, and one of the most obvious (and probably one of your main goals) is
muscle toning. Even the lightest weight will add additional muscle definition potential to the exercises.

Depending on the exercise, it could require extra effort from the muscles in your arms, back, shoulders, chest, and core. In the purest Pilates style, resistance is practiced both in the
effort as in liberation. That way you use eccentric contractions that build strong muscles. One of the reasons lighter weights are used is to control the level of challenge and not invite the use of muscles that are out of balance with the exercise.

Woman with sports equipment/PEXELS


When it comes to losing weight, every little effort counts. Adding weight to your workout will increase the
amount of energy you expend in exercise and that will increase the burning of calories. But without exaggerating either. Some add hand weights to increase the cardiovascular work of a warm-up based on jogging in place or dance moves.

When it comes to weight loss with Pilates and weights, what you get is a
little extra helpWell, everything counts. You will achieve weight loss by combining this physical work with other activities away from a sedentary lifestyle and with a proper diet sustained over time.

core work

Ideally, you’ll use hand weights as you would other Pilates equipment, which means the equipment is used in a way that sends
attention, information and energy back to your core. Also, even if the weight is light, hand weights will create additional stability work for your shoulders, core, and pelvis.


Varying your Pilates routine is a good idea to
fight boredom. If hand weights have some advantages, and they do, why not add them from time to time? Also, you don’t want to wear them all the time because they can distract from the deep attention that is so important in Pilates.

Woman with sports equipment/PEXELS

Full attention

Of course, you can also be creative. There are many Pilates exercises to which weights can be added, also for the ankles. You can even add weights to the
exercises performed with other equipment of Pilates. For example, the Pilates exercise ball and chair are good candidates for pairing with hand weights.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want the hand weights
interfere with the intention of an exercise. Therefore, you would not use hand weights in exercises where they would literally get in the way. In Pilates, that would include balancing exercises like rolling like a ball or certain poses and exercises where you need to use your hands to stabilize or support weight.

Keep in mind that weights on the ends of the arms or legs
increase the challenge in the exercises. You may want to modify them by keeping your hands closer to your body. For example, a spinal twist and back twist can be done with the elbows bent and held at shoulder height while the weighted hands are in front of the chest, fist to fist. Have fun and use the weights safely!