7 Barre Workout Health Benefits You Don’t Want to Miss Out On
Lean muscle is just the beginning.
By Team Peloton•
You may have noticed a lot of buzz surrounding the ballet-inspired workout referred to as barre … but what exactly is barre? Is it ballet? Is it pilates? And is it really worth including in your workout routine?
Short answer: Absolutely! And don’t be surprised when barre becomes one of your fitness faves.
Learn more about the benefits of barre and why fanatics keep coming back for more. Get ready to throw on some grip socks and drop down for some clamshells and leg lifts.
What is Barre?
So what is it, exactly? Barre is a full-body workout that blends cardio, strength training, flexibility, balance, and core conditioning into a total-body workout targeting the legs, hips, glutes, core, and arms. It relies on precise, low-impact movements that can improve your posture, alignment, and mobility, and increase your overall strength.
Barre workouts involve repetitive micro movements designed to reach even your tiniest muscles, with the goal being to exhaust them. Common exercises include pulses and isometric holds, targeting muscles in different ways. Most movements are high rep and low (or no) weight, aside from your bodyweight. This helps to build muscular endurance.
Don’t be surprised if your muscles are shaking by the end of every set—while barre is a low-impact workout, it’s certainly not easy. While you might not end your barre workout sweating profusely, if you properly perform the moves and sets, you will be sore the next day.
7 Benefits of Barre Workouts
1. Barre Can Reduce Your Stress
It’s no secret that most forms of exercise help reduce stress and boost endorphins, but the mind-body connection found in a barre class is unmatched. When you are focusing on tiny muscle movements and keeping your form intact, your mind is much less likely to wander. It’s difficult for your consciousness to stray when you’re following so many cues at the same time, such as holding a barre, lifting onto your toes, squatting, straightening, tucking, and pulsing. Barre helps keep you fully present and in your body. When you are completely in the moment like that, stress tends to melt away.
2. Barre Improves Overall Strength
Since barre is a form of resistance training, it will help increase your lean muscle mass and strength. While most traditional workouts rely on intensity or external resistance to build muscles, barre improves strength with volume and repetition.
Those teeny tiny moves you repeat are extremely effective, and will help build your strength in big ways as you work to get your heart rate up and build your endurance. Research shows that an important factor in muscle activation is time under tension (TUT)—or, how long a muscle can be held (contracted) during exercise. Barre is ideal for increasing your TUT—no wonder it’s considered a form of strength training!
An added benefit of barre is that almost every move requires excellent core strength and stability. Your abdominal muscles are what helps you maintain proper form and allows you to hold your body in so many different positions during a barre class. Building ab strength without having to perform endless ab work is a huge barre bonus—and barre even goes deeper, targeting the muscles that traditional sit-ups can’t reach.
3. Barre is Low-Impact
Low-impact exercise is movement that doesn’t require pressure on your joints. With no jumping or pounding required, it’s great for those with joint issues or who are looking for low-impact movement to complicate the other high-impact activities they do, like running or jumping rope. Barre doesn’t require you to push yourself past your breaking point, but you’ll still build endurance and get your heart rate up through quick transitions.
4. No Equipment Necessary
Despite its name, you don’t actually need a ballet barre in order to complete a barre class. You can use a chair or the wall for balance if needed. But, for an effective barre workout, you don’t need any equipment at all. You can add light weights and resistance bands to some of the arm exercises, but the repetition makes a barre workout most effective—not the equipment.
5. Barre Creates Better Posture
Since the upper body is paramount in every barre position, this exercise regimen helps to create straighter backs and shoulders. No matter what muscle groups you’re focusing on throughout the workout, you will constantly be reminded to lengthen your spine and pull your shoulders down.
In every position, even if you’re working your seat or thighs, your core will need to be engaged, which will help your posture as well. As you firm up your core and lengthen through your spine, you’ll notice your posture improving not just during barre class but as you go about your everyday life. When your core is engaged and you’re holding less tension in your lower back, you’ll stand taller than ever.
6. Barre is a Fast and Fun Workout
Beyond all the benefits to be had like stress relief and strength-building, barre classes are just plain fun. Who doesn’t want to channel their inner ballerina for this ballet-inspired workout? In addition, the movements are fast-paced. This isn’t the type of workout where you are counting down the minutes and can’t believe it hasn’t been an hour yet. Barre workouts tend to fly by.
7. Barre Increases Your Flexibility & Range of Motion
If you want to increase your flexibility and range of motion, especially as your body ages, barre is an excellent way to do so.
Flexibility is the ability to stretch and lengthen soft tissue, such as muscles, ligaments and tendons. Range of motion is the extent you’re able to move body parts surrounding a joint, without pain. You can’t have one without the other, meaning you won’t see flexibility gains without adequate range of motion and vice versa. For example, you may not be able to touch your toes right now, but after working to increase range of motion in barre, you might find it a little easier to do.
As Peloton instructor Hannah Corbin says, barre can help you move your body in all sorts of ways. When you’re able to twist and turn quickly in a way that’s stable and doesn’t hurt you, that’s when you can really up your endurance and strength, more than with either running or cycling alone.
Barre workouts offer a low-impact way to build muscular endurance and strength while improving your posture and mobility. Are you ready to get started on your barre journey? Try barre and other strength classes on the Peloton App for free. When adding barre to your routine, just make sure you start small and focus on perfecting your form and alignment. And, as you watch your body grow stronger and longer, perhaps you’ll begin to understand why so many people are embracing their inner dancer at the barre.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute individualized advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician for questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. If you are having a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.
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