When it comes to some workouts, the idea is not to gain huge amounts of strength or improve your muscle function. In some exercise routines, the idea is to gain strength little-by-little, and tone hard-to-target muscles. You can count barre workouts among these! No matter your age, weight, or fitness level, you can take up barre workouts, as it is not extremely intense, and can have effective results for beginners!

Invented by Lotte Berk, a German dancer living in London, who came up with the idea after injuring her back, barre combines dance conditioning routine with rehabilitative therapy. Since then it has transformed into a full-blown workout choice for fitness fiends and not just for dancers. The basic benefits of barre are broken into four categories.

Tiny movements make big impact
Barre involves isometric contractions, which simply put causes tension in muscles, without changing their length. It’s the diametric opposite of plyometric workouts, which involve quick lengthening and shortening of muscles for maximum impact. While plyo workouts build explosive power, isometric exercise is a great way to maintain strength in muscles, without over-stressing them.
Often known as the one-inch movements, these force you to hold a posture and thus result in continuously engaging the muscle. With each pulse or beat, you are going into a mini recovery phase, which helps you hold the pose longer.

Target multiple muscle groups
Barre is known as a highly efficient workout. You would typically be doing two to four movements such as holding, pulsing, stretching at one time. The ballet bar helps you achieve specific targetting as well, such as your quads, hamstrings, calves, abs, glutes or upper-back muscles. Working all these areas at once helps raise the heart rate, which is crucial to increase the capacity of your heart to pump enough blood to all the muscles. Thereby oxygenating faster, and increasing your metabolic rate.

The Yoga connection
Sometimes, barre workouts may resemble yoga in motion. It involves being aware of your pose, holding poses for small amounts of time, and being aware of your breathing. Jessi Kneeland, founder of Remodel Fitness says “Barre can improve muscular activation for frequently underused muscles by strengthening the neuro-muscular (mind-body) connection.”

Weight loss 

Since barre affects different body types in different ways, it is not immediately called a weight loss workout. It takes great practice and dedication for the results to show, which can be discouraging for those who are just starting their weight loss efforts. Depending on your body type and fitness level, you’ll see and feel changes in three weeks to three months, according to some experts.

To conclude, it’s clear that if you are doing a lot of strength training, barre workouts can add the balance that bodyweight exercises provide. It’s best to use it in a combination with strength training, running or your usual cardio drill. Mix up your routine and develop muscle groups with greater efficiency by combining the isometric movements with lifting weights and plyo workouts.

Top image: shaunakathleen.com

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