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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

What Is the Barre Workout and How Much It Can Benefit You

What Is the Barre Workout and How Much It Can Benefit You

There’s no doubt that many a millennial seems to be hitting a healthier bar nowadays, and that’s barre with a double r and an e. At about $20-30 per barre class, this fitness rage makes tall claims. Anybody can join in, irrespective of age or fitness level and can see a difference in the body in just five barre classes. Sound too good to be true? Let’s find out the truth behind this new fitness phenomenon and separate the facts from the fiction.

What Exactly Is a Barre Class?

Anyone who’s ever done ballet is familiar with the ballet barre – which is just a fancy name for a stationary handrail that gives additional support while doing warm ups. The barre class workout did originate from ballet – or rather an injured ballerina back in 1959. Lotte Berk was a German ballerina in London who hurt her back and so decided to open a rehabilitative studio based on her dance routine. Often the studio was frequented by the likes of Barbra Streisand. Lydia Bach, a student of Berk’s brought this to America in 1971 and now there are plenty of offshoots and “styles” of the original, though the original closed in 2005.

The barre class workout is ballet-inspired. You begin with some mat exercises that target your core and abs, and then move on to the barre to do a dance-inspired workout that targets your arms, shoulders, pelvis, hips, and legs. Here’s a sneak peek into what makes up barre classes:

You Will Look Great by Doing the Barre Workout

Choreographed to upbeat music and custom-made to suit a person’s age and fitness level, the barre workout can be explained as a mix of ballet, Pilates, yoga, and dance. While it’s not a workout meant to sweat you into a mindless puddle, it will make those muscles quiver like leaves in a storm. Here are the many pros of taking up a barre class:

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It works the muscles but is considerate to the joints

Barre workout strains the muscles with small, super-controlled movements known as “isometric movements”, but whilst your muscles may quiver and shake with the effort, (which you are supposed to positively embrace) it’s gentle on the joints and has a low risk of injury.

Barre workouts help increase flexibility and strength

Many strong people are as stiff as boards. (Think muscled hunk not being able to touch his toes!) A barre class gives you both flexibility and strength. Its small, quick pulse movements work the muscles but also stretch them in a focused manner, making you stronger and far more limber than before.

They help you lose weight and inches

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Since barre workouts target muscles and work them beyond fatigue, you burn calories. In fact a barre class will burn more than 200 calories for sure. Some promise to reach the golden number – 500! Coupled with a healthy diet with little to no sugar, barre can help you lose weight and more importantly redistributes the inches on your body to give you the best shape possible.

It targets muscles and builds endurance

The movements of barre are isometric in nature, targeting specific muscles and moving them without the usual expansion and contraction. The muscles will tense but not change length. This allows you work out muscles like never before – the reason why you feel like Jell-O at the end of a barre class.

It’s exercise, but with a meditative effect

The small but continuous movements in a barre class make you very mind and body aware. Since most classes keep changing their routines, the physical and mental awareness you get from doing it can nearly parallel mediation! Another plus is that once you know the moves, you can do them at home, too.

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But If You Think It Can Replace Conventional Workout, It May Not Be the Case…

Anything that makes you move is good, right? Anything that gets your blood pumping, your muscles moving, and your body grooving is healthy for sure. That said, if you are looking for a particular kind of benefit then it’s good to know what an exercise can and cannot do, so here is what doing barre will not do for your body.

It’s not a great cardio workout

While a barre class does leave the muscles begging for mercy, what it doesn’t target is the heart. A barre class does not an intensive cardio session make. While it may tone you and take off a few extra pounds, it may not make for a great fat-busting session. However, remember that all bodies are not made the same way and it just may prove to be a great weight loss workout for you.

It does not give you functional strength

If you are looking for a workout that increases your body’s functional strength – the kind that helps you lift heavy weights and run up the stairs without breaking into a sweat – then barre may not be the class for you. Isometric movements increase flexibility and endurance and so a barre class will make you a great marathoner, but not necessarily a sprinter.

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You may flat line your fitness progress

A barre class does not require lifting heavy weights or pushing beyond your endurance, so after you’ve done a few months of it that magical weight loss, muscle quivering, and increase in strength and stamina will plateau. To become stronger, you have to challenge your body constantly, aiming towards higher and higher goals and obstacles, which tends to stop after a while in barre unless you have an instructor who is constantly challenging himself or herself to make the best barre workout ever! It can get boring with the same repetitive routine.

All in all, barre is a good workout – especially if you are starting a fitness program, looking for something fun to do, or even recovering from an injury or illness. It’s also a great “in-betweener” in case you’ve just finished an intensive bout of weight training and are stiffer than a surfboard! It’s also a good idea to pair a barre class with another workout. Alternating strength or cardio training with barre will ensure that you get the flexibility of barre with the cardio or functional strength of an intensive workout, giving you the complete workout that’s best for you!

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on March 3, 2021

10 Workout Tips for Building Muscle the Right Way

10 Workout Tips for Building Muscle the Right Way

Building muscle is one of the best ways to help you feel better about your appearance, but it’s also a great way to improve your physical efficiency, stabilize your bones and joints, and reduce risk of injury in everyday life. However, most people aren’t sure how to go about building muscle in the best way.

By carefully selecting the time of your workout, the combination of techniques, and the proper post-workout snacks, you can maximize your workout to build strength and muscle. Here are the essential tips you need to know.

1. Work out at the Right Time of Day

The time of day when you choose to work out can make all the difference when it comes to working out to your maximum potential. Anthony Hackney, a professor in the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, says that working out in the morning is best for weight loss due to the body’s hormonal composition at that time. If you really want to lose fat, exercise on an empty stomach[1].

Now, if your goal is to build muscle, you’ll want to eat something first. This means that an afternoon or evening workout can serve you better as your body will have the necessary nutrients to perform well during a workout.

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Ultimately, the best time to work out is the time of day that fits into your schedule. Not everyone has the luxury of working out in the morning or right after work. If you’re able to stick to a schedule, it will help you on your journey to building muscle.

If you need help just getting started and finding motivation to get to the gym, check out Lifehack’s Ultimate Worksheet for Instant Motivation Boost.

2. Weights Before Cardio

If your goal is to lose weight or build muscle mass, strength training should come first, according to researchers. Furthermore, studies have shown that “Moderate- to high-intensity endurance training decreases the efficacy of strength training.” Therefore, if you’re going to train for a marathon, do so after you lift weights.[2]

3. Eat Often (and More)

Keep your energy up and give your body plenty of fuel for building muscle by eating small meals every three hours or so. Make sure to eat plenty of protein, ideally the equivalent amount of protein in grams as your current body weight in pounds. For example, a 150-pound man would aim to take in 150 grams of protein per day.

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When trying to build muscle, aim to eat 250 to 500 calories more than you normally would, but don’t go too far beyond that. Your body may store the extra calories as body fat if it doesn’t use them during or after the workout.

4. Eat a Snack After You Work out

After a workout, your body will need a good dose of protein and amino acids in order to aid in muscle growth and recovery. This is essential to building muscle, as without the recovery, you can open yourself up to muscle strain and injury.

You should aim to eat this high-protein snack within about 60 minutes of ending your workout. This will help the muscles absorb the nutrients when they need them. Try yogurt, cottage cheese, chocolate milk, nuts, or a protein shake as a great post-workout snack.

5. Stay Hydrated

The last thing you need complicating your workout is a cramp or fatigue, so drinking water before, during, and after your workout for best results. This will also aid in the recovery process as the muscles will use water to heal.

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6. Never Skip the Warm up or Cool Down

Stretching prevents muscle strain, helps blood more easily reach the joints and muscles, and can help lower cholesterol when done as part of a yoga or Pilates routine. Muscles also need to realign themselves after an intense workout, which a few minutes of stretching can help to accomplish.

7. Combine Compound and Isolate Movements

While isolating certain muscles is important, you need to alternate compound motions as well, which will target multiple muscle groups at once. Compound workouts are good for beginners and for toning certain parts of the body. They’ll also burn more calories and increase your mobility.

Compound movements include squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups. These target several muscles groups at once. If you find that one muscle group is weaker than the rest, you can incorporate isolate movements to build it up.

8. Gradually Increase Your Weights

Increase the weight you’re lifting on each exercise by about 5 percent each week. If you bench-pressed 100 pounds this week, for example, then next week you should try doing 105 pounds. This gradual increase will yield the best muscle building results without overly straining your body.

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9. Budget the Correct Amount of Time for Your Workout

Studies have found that working out a muscle group two times a week is the best way to start building muscle more quickly. You will certainly see some results by only working a muscle group once a week, but try twice to give yourself a boost.

Also, you don’t need to spend two hours in the gym each time you go. 20 to 30 minutes of weight lifting and strength training will help you see results and increase your muscle mass. If you go to the gym for an hour, try varying your workout a bit in order to avoid overworking a certain muscle group.

10. Look in the Mirror

Try to do all of your weight lifting in front of a mirror. That way, you can correct your posture and make sure you are fully extending your muscles. Correct form means means maximized results.

This will likely feel strange at first, especially if you feel self conscious at the gym. However, know that this is normal and what many seasoned weight lifters do to ensure proper form.

The Bottom Line

Building muscle is a worthy goal to have as it will ultimately improve your everyday life from the ground up. You’ll find that everyday tasks become easier and that you have more energy for both your workouts and personal life. Use the tips above to start building muscle today.

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Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

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