Advertising
Advertising

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:

Advertising

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

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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!

More by this author

Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating What Is the Barre Workout and How Much It Can Benefit You Only 8% Of People Achieve Their New Year’s Goals, Here’s How To Be One Of Them Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn. There’s No Such Thing Called Failure. Anxiety Isn’t About Worrying Too Much, But Caring Too Much

Trending in Exercise & Training

1 15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine 2 10 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Workout Motivation 3 15 Important Benefits of Stretching Before, After, and During a Workout 4 The Ultimate Workout Routine for Men (Tailored for Different Fitness Level) 5 5-Day Workout Routine for Women to Get Strong and Toned

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 19, 2021

15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

Benefits of Static Stretches

Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

Improved Flexibility

If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1]

Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

Prevent Injuries

If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

Think of it this way:

When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

For static stretching, though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

Advertising

However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

Improvement in Recovery

If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

  • Improved relaxation
  • Increased movement efficiency
  • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
  • Reduction in muscle tension
  • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
  • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
  • Relief from cramping

15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

1. Neck Stretch

    While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head, and place the other arm out to your side. Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing, and repeat for the opposite side.

    Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

    2. Chest Stretch

      Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks. While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

      Advertising

      3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

      Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

        Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in front to shoulder height. Grab the extended arm with your other arm, and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight. Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

        4. Triceps Static Stretch

          Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow. Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

          Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

          5. Biceps Stretch

          Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

            Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you. While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

            6. Wrist Stretch

            11 Best Tennis Elbow Exercises For Pain Free Mobility [PDF]

              While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite arm.

              7. Side Stretch

                Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite side.

                The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.

                Advertising

                8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                  Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up. While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                  9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                  Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                    Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.

                    Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                    10. Knees to Chest

                    Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                      Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                      11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                      How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                        Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and place your two hands on your hips. Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                        12. Figure 4 Stretch

                        How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                          Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent. Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

                          13. Standing Quad Stretch

                            Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture. With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance. With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.

                            Advertising

                            Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                            14. Hamstring Stretch

                              Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Reach forward with your right hand, and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.

                              Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the left leg. If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                              15. Calf Stretch

                                Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you. Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.

                                Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg, if you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body prepare better for the work ahead.

                                The Bottom Line

                                Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running. You need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training, and that’s the whole point of static stretches.

                                Advertising

                                Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                More Tips on Stretching

                                Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                Read Next