Mat vs Reformer Pilates: Which is Better?

Author: JB Emerson |

Blog by Pilates Core Center

Pilates is once again booming, but if someone asked you which was your favorite, Mat or Reformer, how would you answer? With about 11 million people practicing Pilates in the U.S., it’s an expected question that would arise among regulars. On the one hand, Mat Pilates is the foundation of Pilates consisting of the original 34 exercises. On the other hand, Reformer Pilates incorporates the reformer bed, which allows the control of resistance. Both are great forms of exercise that can support any weight loss program. So, aside from being a personal choice, which is actually better for you?

Mat vs. Reformer Pilates - Which is Better

For most Pilates fans, it’s important to understand the differences, as well as the similarities, before making your decision. We’ll take a look at these aspects.

Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates is the most accessible of the Pilates workouts as there is no need for any large or special equipment other than the mat itself. There are no straps, springs, or a foot bar to push and pull. In Mat Pilates, you use your own body weight as a form of resistance as you engage in exercises that include stretching and balancing. This may sound like it’s the easier method of Pilates, but don’t be mistaken! Mat Pilates can be very challenging, especially for first-timers!

Another great point about Mat Pilates is that it’s not limited to any age or level of physical fitness – it’s a highly adaptable form of exercise for anyone trying to get stronger or improve flexibility. Also, men looking to control their weight might find the habits formed from Mat Pilates routines beneficial. Whilst there is no solid evidence Pilates aids weight loss, the best weight loss programs for men suggest forming positive habits and having a social structure that can help your journey. Therefore, Mat Pilates could be a vehicle for change and drive other aspects of a weight loss journey.

Reformer Pilates

Unlike Mat Pilates, Reformer Pilates exercises are done on an elevated surface. There are many variations; you could be standing, lying on your back, or even balancing on one leg. As mentioned earlier, Reformer Pilates requires the use of a reformer bed and carriage – which may sound a little intimidating if you’re just getting started.

Basically, the reformer bed consists of a flatbed connected to a series of springs and pulleys underneath the flatbed that regulates the resistance. Users can adjust the level of resistance with the primary goal of working all of the muscles at the same time. Thus, the muscles are exercised in a balanced way, never under-training or over-training any of them. As a result, Reformer Pilates is a very efficient way to get resistance training.

The Verdict

So, to answer the question of which is better for you – only you can answer that! If you’re undecided, don’t fret! No one is forcing you to pick. In fact, most people use both methods because they provide very specific benefits. Both methods exercise your muscles and build strength in the abdominal core muscles, which translates to burning calories and weight loss.

Mat Pilates maintains the principles of Pilates, like breath, concentration, control, and flow. The Reformer Pilates is excellent for targeting specific muscle groups and helping improve injuries. If it pleases you (just like millions of others), use both and reap the benefits of both methods!

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about the two types of Pilates, and for more articles like this one, please check out our article on the things to look for in a Pilates instructor.