Barre is a relatively new trend on the fitness scene. There are lots of people who haven’t even heard of it yet, and many more who associate barre with ballet. While it’s true that barre workouts are inspired by ballet warm-up exercises, the similarity pretty much stops right there. Barre is a low impact, full-body strength training workout that fuses elements of yoga stretching, pilates core conditioning, and physical therapy principles. A one-hour class will lengthen and strengthen the entire body while working it in all planes of motion.
Specifically, why is barre such a great complement for runners?
- Strength Training. It’s no secret that runners need to cross-train if they want to improve running performance (speed, agililty, and balance). Strong muscles are much better qualified to handle the stress of a high impact workout like running. Barre is the perfect cross-training combo for runners because it’s low impact, focuses on working the tiny stabilizer muscles that surround the hip and knee joints, and strengthens the core—all of which improve balance and stability.
- Flexibility. Who’s got tight hips, hamstrings and calves? Repetitive movements, like running, create a lot of tension in the supporting muscles. Tight muscles are less efficient, more prone to injury, and don’t see gains in endurance as quickly as flexible muscles. Barre focuses on working each muscle group to fatigue and then stretching it out to release tension and improve joint mobility. A main focus of a barre class is the hip complex—integrating core stability with range of motion through tiny isometric contractions. This balance of strength and flexibility helps the muscles to work more efficiently which can improve speed and endurance.
- Injury Prevention. Running is a repetitive, high impact workout—which means injury could be just around the corner at any turn if you don’t carefully plan your cross-training routine. Barre is a great complement to running because it incorporates strengthening and stretching into a one-hour workout. Could it get more efficient than that? A barre workout has a strong focus on the muscles that surround the hip, knee, and shoulder joints. Many of the exercises are done on the toes, which strengthens the feet, helping to combat many common foot ailments. Finally, running happens in only one plane of motion (sagittal). Barre works the muscles in all planes of motion, creating a body that is balanced and functional in all directions.
Seriously, barre is the perfect complement for running. You’ve got strength training and flexibility to improve running performance combined with low-impact movements that help to prevent over-use injuries all tightly wrapped into a super efficient one-hour workout. Can we get a hell yaass?!
To get the most benefit out of barre for cross-training, you should optimally plan to attend a barre class at least 2 times per week.