Increase Your Calorie Burn At The Barre

You have probably heard us telling you to “embrace the shake”, more than once in class, and for good reason. When you hold a muscle contraction for an extended period of time, like you do at Neighborhood Barre, this causes your muscles to tire. The sustained stress causes the muscles to burn through its reserve fuels. Once it’s nearly depleted, the muscle starts relaxing and contracting at a higher pace to reserve the remaining energy, and hence starts to shake. Like a LOT.
Producing higher levels of lactic acid (the chemical reaction that’s responsible for the ‘burn’ you feel in class), causes damage to your muscle tissue at the microscopic level that needs to be repaired. Rebuilding your muscles back raises your total energy expenditure – at rest. And after all, who doesn’t want to continue to burn calories after their workout? Sounds like a dream come true, right?
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First off, what exactly is the afterburn effect? The afterburn effect is formally called EPOC, meaning excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. After an intense exercise, your body has to work twice as hard to replenish its oxygen stores than it does after steady-state exercise. This requires the body and metabolism to work at a higher rate, so it continues to burn calories. Simply put, the afterburn effect is the calories you continue to burn after intense exercise to recover. EPOC can burn anywhere from 6 to 15% more calories at a ‘resting/recovery’ state, and last for up to 48 hours, dependent upon the intensity of the workout.
Sound too good to be true? Spoiler alert, it’s take *a lot* of exertion. We recommend wearing a heart rate monitor in class (especially during our Barre HIIT class!). But we also want you to really tune into the literal burn you feel within your muscles during an exercise. Remember those first couple barre classes where your legs where spaghetti noodles, and your glutes spasmed out of control? Is that still happening in class? When muscle memory builds, you have to push past your plateau to continue to reach muscle fatigue, then stay in the burn until you feel like you literally cannot bear another second.
Ready to increase the (calorie) burn? Here’s our top 5 tips, covering peak performance in every Neighborhood Barre class.
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Increase Your Afterburn At The Barre:
  • When taking our Barre HIIT class, push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds to stay in your maximum heart rate zone (80% – 100%). Your personal best may be different from your neighbor’s – ask us for modifications to both increase or decrease the intensity when needed!
  • In Barre HIIT, reduce your recovery time in-between exercises by trying to get your body ready to go and in position for the next sprint, as well as running in place or performing jumping jacks during demo times in class.
  • During Barre All Levels, focus on endurance. Stay in each exercise as long as you can. Once you can make it throughout the entire exercise without a break, start focusing on deepening the muscle contraction by sinking lower in thighs, extending your leg longer in seat, connecting your breathing in abs, and adding equipment to find the burn.
  • Maximize your resistance training by reducing your rest time in-between exercises (Think about how fatigued your muscles are when we do super-sets!) Even when we’re not performing a super-set, focus on getting into the next exercise right away and staying mentally connected throughout class to master your opposing resistance.
  • In Barre FLOW, focus on engaging the entire body (i.e. functional movement) to increase your energy output and deepen the muscle burn. The more you can center your weight throughout class, the more dynamic,  and effective each move becomes.

Incorporating Cardio at the Barre

HIIT exercise seems to be the buzz word in the fitness world this year, and for good reason. ‘Burst’ training, is typically a tabata-timed format of exercise, where you perform short bursts of high intensity moves with periods of quick rest.

It’s approach of working out at a very high intensity, through short intervals, promises to deliver more results in less time than other workouts. But there’s one big caveat, you have to nail the intensity.

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Although the work-to-rest ratio (i.e. tablet timer) is an important part of the cardio effect, reaching your own personal 80 – 95% range maximum heart rate makes all the difference. Your maximum heart rate can be ‘estimated’ by using the formula below.

Try wearing a heart rate monitor in class to keep track of where you want your heart rate to be, and calculate that range in advance. This way you’re also keeping track of when you may be overexerting yourself and when it may be time for you to slow down.

No heart rate monitor, no problem. You shouldn’t be able to complete an entire sentence after you’ve completed an interval. Check yourself by repeating a sentence after each series (plus, a little extra self-motivation goes a long way!

Calculate HR

Everyone’s ‘maximum’ is going to look different, so we’re equipping you with some tips to take it at your own (challenging) pace during your next HIIT class at the barre:

  1. Consider the ‘mid-level’ your baseline. This is typically what the instructor will demonstrate as the initial move. You won’t know what your body can do until you try!
  2. If you can’t finish a full sentence after your first series, try performing the move without the jump, or reducing your range of motion/slowing your pace down by 1 – 2 seconds to reduce your heart rate by 5 – 10%.
  3. If your heart rate isn’t within your high intensity range, try adding a piece of equipment. Typically grabbing your hand weights is a safe bet. If you are at the barre, try popping your heels, or increasing your pace by 1 – 2 seconds. If you’re jumping, try adding a ‘click’ of the heels at the top of your jump for an added challenge.
  4. Your instructor will be giving you options within each exercise, so listen to what your body needs in that very moment. And remember the next rep may be different. Just because you needed to lose a jump your second set, doesn’t mean you can’t add it back on your third!
  5. Constantly be checking in with your heart rate throughout class, and use the mirrors throughout the room to constantly tune into your form, and your range of motion. Proper form improves your results, and keeps you safe!