The Pilates Method increases respiratory muscle strength and performance as well as abdominal muscle thickness

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2016 Apr;20(2):258-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


The aim of this study was to verify the effects of the Pilates Method (PM) training program on the thickness of the abdominal wall muscles, respiratory muscle strength and performance, and lung function. This uncontrolled clinical trial involved 16 sedentary women who were assessed before and after eight weeks of PM training. The thickness of the transversus abdominis (TrA), internal oblique (IO) and external oblique (EO) muscles was assessed. The respiratory muscle strength was assessed by measuring the maximum inspiratory (MIP) and expiratory (MEP) pressure. The lung function and respiratory muscle performance were assessed by spirometry. An increase was found in MIP (p = 0.001), MEP (p = 0.031), maximum voluntary ventilation (p = 0.020) and the TrA (p < 0.001), IO (p = 0.002) and EO (p < 0.001) thickness after the PM program. No alterations in lung function were found. These findings suggest that the PM program promotes abdominal wall muscle hypertrophy and an increase in respiratory muscle strength and performance, preventing weakness in abdominal muscles and dysfunction in ventilatory mechanics, which could favor the appearance of illnesses.

Keywords: Abdominal muscles; Pilates Method; Respiratory muscles; Women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Exercise Movement Techniques / methods*
  • Exhalation / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhalation / physiology
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Muscles / diagnostic imaging
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology*