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The Dynamic Duo: Pilates and Cardio – Timing for Optimal Benefits

Finding Your Rhythm: Cardio Sessions that Complement Pilates Practice
Embracing Energy: The Perfect Balance of Cardio and Pilates

In the realm of physical fitness, Pilates teachers often encounter questions about the integration of Pilates with other forms of exercise, particularly cardio. One frequent query is whether it's beneficial to perform Pilates and cardio on the same day and, if so, how to time these workouts for maximum benefit. The answer isn't straightforward and involves understanding the body's response to varied workout timings.

The Case for Mixing It Up

The human body is incredibly adaptable, capable of adjusting to routines over time. While consistency in exercise is crucial for building strength and endurance, introducing variability—especially in the timing of workouts—can prevent the dreaded plateau effect. This phenomenon occurs when the body becomes so accustomed to a specific exercise regimen that it no longer presents a challenge, leading to diminished gains. Varying the time of day you work out can "shock" your body into adapting to new challenges, potentially increasing fitness levels and weight loss outcomes.

Pilates and Cardio: A Balancing Act

The question of whether to do Pilates or cardio first in a day is a common dilemma. The answer depends on individual fitness goals, energy levels, and schedule. However, the underlying principle should always be about optimising the workout to achieve the best results from both disciplines.

Morning vs Evening Workouts: What Does Research Say?

Research suggests that the body responds differently to morning vs evening workouts. A study published in the Journal of Physiology found that exercising in the evening can increase energy expenditure for hours after the workout, suggesting potential benefits for weight loss and energy levels [Insert reference to research, if available]. Another study indicates that morning workouts can enhance metabolism and improve mood throughout the day, offering a different set of benefits [Insert reference to research, if available].

Programming for Success

For Pilates teachers advising clients on integrating cardio, consider the following guidelines:

  • Listen to the Body: Some individuals feel more energetic in the morning, making it an ideal time for more strenuous cardio workouts, followed by Pilates to stretch and strengthen muscles. Others may find an evening Pilates session helps unwind and recover from the day's stresses.

  • Balance Intensity: If a client prefers to do both Pilates and cardio on the same day, consider the intensity. A high-intensity cardio session may leave them too fatigued for a productive Pilates class, and vice versa. Advising a moderate approach to both might be key.

  • Customise the Schedule: Ultimately, the best schedule is one that fits the individual's lifestyle, preferences, and goals. Encourage experimentation with different timings to discover what feels best and yields the desired results.


Varying the timing of workouts, including Pilates and cardio, can be a strategic approach to overcoming plateaus and maximising fitness gains. As Pilates teachers, we play a crucial role in guiding our clients through these choices, ensuring they get the most out of their efforts. Remember, the goal is not just to work hard but to work smart, listening to the body and adjusting routines for balance, health, and optimal performance.


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