Slow workouts: Part 1 – What are the benefits of slower Pilates workouts?

Running, jumping, spinning, and HIIT circuits all have one thing in common… they’re typically performed at a fast pace at a high intensity. Not all forms of exercises have to be conducted quickly to achieve results.

What if you did the opposite and slowed down your movements by focusing on precise execution and core control? Your body will work just as hard, if not harder, at a high intensity, but with less impact and speed.

To excel at your fitness goals, it’s best to perform a variety of different workout styles and alter the modalities. Whether you like to weight train, do Pilates, practice yoga, or kill it in a HIIT class, there are several ways to incorporate a slower style strength workout to maximize your results.


Slow is the way to go when performing Pilates based workouts. In Pilates, the exercises are performed in a slow and controlled manor to develop muscular strength and length from the inside of the body out.

Slow and controlled movements along with added resistance taps into your neural system and utilizes your slow-twitch muscles fibers to work to failure (in a positive, safe way). Performing controlled movements with absolutely no momentum requires the muscle fibers to remain in constant tension over time. The intensity soars as your muscles work hard to perform the movement with control.

A slower style workout is one that power lifters, triathletes, marathoners, and athletes of all levels will benefit from incorporating into their training program. This type of muscle engagement will develop a strong, long, and lean physique.


Pilates strengthens the body from the inside out to develop strength and lean muscle length. Here are a few reasons why slowing it down works wonders:


Moving slowly ensures you’re executing the exercise with correct form by activating the right muscles through a safe range of motion. The slower you move, the more you are able to focus attention on the muscles worked, which is important in Pilates.


Slower movements activate each muscle to simultaneously work together by keeping the muscle under tension through the exercise’s range of motion. This constant activation develops strength in the muscles and joints. Don’t be surprised when your muscles start to “shake” uncontrollably - this occurs when your muscles are changing and from the slow and controlled movements.


Slow and stead is where it’s at to get your body into the fat-burning zone. Similar to cardio or interval bursts that raise your heart rate up, slower workouts can do the same without the impact! The slower you move, the more you build muscle, which ultimately burns fat.


When an exercise gets tough, many will struggle through it using momentum and the assistance of other muscles or body parts. Why not drop the resistance, modify the movement, or…. Slow it down!? By slowing down an exercise, your muscles have to work twice as hard to control the speed, execute the correct form, and use the muscle to its full potential.


Slow and controlled movements are derived from your inner core muscles to ignite the strength needed for the entire workout. Your core powers the strength and stability to work your extremities.

These are just some highlights of why slow and controlled Pilates movements will rock your body right.


Pilates || Control & Length


Perform the following Pilates exercises slowly with control in a circuit format.

• Do 10 reps per exercise or use a timer (60-90 seconds/ exercise)
• Repeat circuit 2-3 times.
• Use these exercises as a guide to incorporate with other exercises into your routine.

Set Up: Medium-High level, Toe Bar attached. GB = Glide Board

1. Roll up & Rotate

Roll up

• Sit at the bottom of the glide board with legs extended, feet flexed and anchored to the bottom rails.
• Sit tall and extend arms from chest.
• Exhale as you draw the navel inward and roll the spine down to the GB.
• Extend and reach arms overhead WITHOUT arching the spine.
• Roll back up to sitting by slowly articulating each bone away from the glide board.


• With an elongated spine, open the arms to each side reaching through the fingertips.
• Keep the sitz bones anchored into the glide board as you rotate the upper half of the body to one side, back to the middle, to the other side, then back to middle.

Repeat this exercise combo for the desired reps or specific time.

2. Bridge Rolls & Running

Bridge rolls

• Open the GB and sit at the bottom with legs extended.
• Roll down to lye supine on the glide board and place both heels parallel and flexed onto the toe bar. (Cup the bottom of the GB gently with your fingertips to prevent slipping.)
• Bend the knees to close the GB and begin to articulate your spine into a bridge position. (advanced: keep GB open)
• Extend the legs out to form a straight line of the body.
• Keep the hips lifted in the bridge position as you bend the knees and close the GB.
• Roll the spine back down to the GB with control.
• Repeat 3-5 times.


• Place the toes onto the toe bar and extend legs straight.
• Alternate a peddling motion with the heels. One leg remains straight with the heel flexed under the toe bar, while the other knee bends.
• Alternate this running movement to feel a stretch through the hamstrings and calf.

Repeat this exercise combo for the desired reps or specific time.

3. Eve’s Lunge & Plank Lift

Eve’s Lunge

• Face away from the tower to one side of the toe bar.
• Place your hands on the toe bar and half kneel down to the GB with the inside knee. (The outside foot is placed to the outside of the bottom rail.)
• Keep the spine and arms elongated as you open the GB.
• Tuck the toes and extend the leg into a full lunge.
• Open and close the GB in this position 3 times to strengthen the legs, and stretch the hip flexor.

Plank Lift

• Keep arms extended on the toe bar and shift weight into the hands.
• Simultaneously place one leg onto the GB to assume a plank position and extend the opposite leg straight back.
• Tuck the extended knee in towards the arms, then extend out again.
• Repeat the knee tuck 3 times, then place the lifted leg back to the side of the base to repeat from the Eve’s Lunge.

Repeat this exercise combo for the desired reps or specific time.

Check out this Pilates video to see how to perform these exercises with control.

If you want to make a difference in your physique, then incorporate slower style workouts to challenge your muscles. The challenge is real and you will love the results.

Up next is a slow-strength based workout, so stay tuned for Part 2!


Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. (purchasable workout videos) (workout clips)

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