What is the ideal frequency of Pilates classes a week to get the most benefit?  Although it does depend on your particular goals, availability and what other activities that you do (what other sports you are involved in that puts a physical load on your body), there is good scienfitic evidence of what the ideal freqency is.  In this article, we will cover several determining factors, such as providing suggested frequencies, discuss the value of tailored plans and offer insights on modifying your routine based on progress and availability.

Recommended Frequency of Pilates Classes

The minimum requirement for your body to adapt to a new exercise load is twice a week and ideally 3 times a week.

When you exercise, you “load” the muscles, requiring them to adapt and change to the load. The load needs to be a balance between working you “a bit harder” than you are comfortable for the body to have a reason to adapt and less than amount that would cause injury. This is a fine balance that we aim to achieve during your sessions.

Less than 2 sessions a week is just enough to maintain strength gains achieved previously, but really not enough to improve muscle strength or at least, it will occur very slowly. The ideal is 3 times a week, with a day in between sessions.

Over training is just as bad, so training everyday is not a good idea. When you over train, you do not give the muscles a chance to adapt and grow. Muscle growth occurs when you rest, not when you exercise, so the balance of load and rest is very important for long term change.

If you do exercise between strength session, it needs to be a different type of exercise, such as cardio training and ideally a lighter form of training

Empowered by Scientific Evidence

The American College of Sports Medicine, continues to recommend with strong scientific evidence

  • Strength training twice a week, involving most of the major muscle groups ( of moderate to high intensity)

2 structured and focused strengthening sessions a week (30 min each), focussing on all the major muscle groups in the body is enough to strengthen your body and benefit in a better life. The great news is that these adaptive effects are beneficial at any age. Although the effects are slower after the 7th decade of life (after the age of 60), the effects of training strongly outweigh the decline due to age.

Other specific scientific evidience includes:

A systematic review and meta-analysis of 49 studies found that performing strength training exercises two times per week was sufficient to increase muscle size and strength in both young and older adults (Peterson et al., 2010).

Another meta-analysis of 22 studies showed that performing strength training exercises two to three times per week led to significant increases in muscle mass, strength, and power in healthy adults (Grgic et al., 2018).

A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that performing strength training exercises two times per week for 16 weeks led to significant increases in muscle size and strength in both men and women (Ozaki et al., 2013).

A review of 21 studies found that performing strength training exercises two to three times per week led to significant improvements in muscle strength and physical function in older adults (Liu and Latham, 2009).

Overall, these studies suggest that performing strength training exercises at least two times per week can promote muscle growth and improve strength in a variety of populations, including young and older adults. However, it’s worth noting that individual responses to exercise can vary, and some people may require more or less frequent training to achieve their goals.

Taking Factors into Consideration

Choosing the number of Pilates classes per week is not a one-size-fits-all decision. Various factors influence this decision, including your fitness level, personal goals, and time availability. Striking a balance between these aspects is critical to avoid overloading your muscles, yet challenging them enough to initiate adaptation and growth. Overtraining can inhibit muscle growth, highlighting the importance of rest.

If Pilates is the only form of exercise that you undertake, then the general recommendations of 2-3 times a weeks is a great guide.  However, if you are incorporating other forms of exericse, such as classical strength and conditioning training 2-3 times a week, I would limit your Pilates sessions to 1-2 times a weeks to allow enough rest for recovery from exercise and to get the most benefit from “loading” the muscles, minimising the risk of injury.

The Power of Personalised Plans

The role of your Pilates instructor or exercise professional such as a physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or osteopath is to ensure that your Pilates program is personalised to you and meet your needs.  Each person is different and their needs are different.  Being targeted and specific about the choice of Pilates exercises that you do is the difference between doing a generic program (that may not get the results you want) and a specific, tailored program that ensures that you move your body’s performance and results in the direction you desire.

Modifying Your Plan

In the direction, the most important role of your Pilates instructor and/or exercise professional is to modify your plan when things go wrong or you have progressed past your current program.  There are 3 specific times when you need your Pilates program plan modified:

  • When you first start your program – to ensure that you start your Pilates journey on the right foot and get benefits from the very start
  • When you have an injury – your exercises will need to be modified, certain exercises added in and other taken away so that you get the most from your program and rehabilitate your injury
  • When you have progressed through your program and need an “upgrade”  – A particular Pilates program (assuming everything runs smoothly and to plan) will be appropriate for about 6-7 weeks before it will be to be progressed.  Your body adapts and improves, so doing the same thing at the same load will no longer have any further benefit.  This is when your Pilates instructor needs to progress your exercises to add further load to gain further improvements

Concluding Thoughts

The benefits of Pilates are evident, but the frequency of classes you should attend largely depends on your unique situation. The recommended starting point is twice a week, but remember to listen to your body and adjust as necessary. Consider seeking guidance from a Pilates instructor or exercise professional to develop a personalized plan for optimal results. Despite the pace of progress slowing after 60, the training benefits still far outweigh age-related decline. Stay consistent, stay committed, and watch the transformative power of Pilates unfold.

Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, why not take action? At MD Health, we specialize in personalized Pilates program and we’d love to help guide you on this journey. Our team of expert instructors is ready to assist in crafting a schedule that is tailored specifically for you, considering your fitness level, goals, and time constraints.

Take the first step today toward a stronger, healthier you by scheduling a consultation with us. Let’s embark on this Pilates journey together, tailoring an approach that caters to your unique needs and paves the way for noticeable progress.

Do you have any questions?

  • Call us on (03) 9857 0644 or (07) 3505 1494 (Paddington)
  • Email us at admin@mdhealth.com.au
  • Check out our other blog posts here

Our clinical staff would be happy to have chat if you have any questions.


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