Reader’s request: How to add barre workouts into your routine

Hi! How’s your morning going? It’s been a great one over here! I’m getting some work done before Livi wakes up, and am excited for some adventures later today. The Pilot and I had a lovely date night last night too 🙂

Since I’ve stared teaching (and taking) barre classes more frequently, I’ve been asked about how to add a barre class or classes into a routine that already includes strength training. This was a tricky one for me, especially because I LOVE Orangetheory, so I’ve had to shuffle some things around in my routine for the classes I teach and take for training purposes (or for fun!). 

Barre shoes  1 of 1 2

First, I think it’s worth mentioning the benefits of barre and why it’s a great workout option to include in a routine if you enjoy it.

Here are some of the benefits of barre workouts: 

It’s low impact. You can strengthen the muscles in your legs, core and upper body without pounding the joints. Even though it is a very joint-friendly exercise, I still wouldn’t recommend it for those who have or are recovering from knee, hip or joint-related injuries. Flexion at the knee and small micro-movements are focuses of the workout, so if you’re healing from an injury, give your body time to do its thing and recover.

Barre burner

You’ll initiate muscle failure. Before I took barre classes, I had a hard time reaching muscle failure without adding an unsafe amount of weight. The variety in these exercises will fully fatigue this muscles without putting too much stress on the joints from insanely high weight. At least once during each class, my legs start shaking uncontrollably from fatigue! Here’s a post explaining why that’s a GREAT thing 🙂 I also appreciate that the workouts are always challenging to me. I have to mentally push myself to finish, and feel awesome when it’s over. 

Core strength and stabilization. You’re getting the entire package: total body strength, in addition to balance and stabilization from core exercises and balance challenges. This targets the tiny muscles in your core that work to stabilize your body, and are effective from protecting the back from injury, promoting good posture, and developing a strong core.

Muscular endurance and flexibility. Unlike traditional strength training exercises (3-4 sets of 6-15 reps, depending on your goals), these low-weight, high repetition exercises promote muscular endurance. This can come in handy for long cardio -your muscles are conditioned to perform under stress for longer bouts of time- and the stretching during class, while it may not protect from injury, it feels great and can potentially contribute to a more effective workout through high range of motion. 

You can modify or progress according to your needs. There are always options to make it more challenging, or to scale it back if you need to.

You’ll challenge your body in an entirely new way. This was one of the biggest benefits for me, because I was strengthening hip and quad muscles that have always been weak, and could have worsened my previous two knee injuries. After practicing barre consistently, in addition to HIIT and strength (often via Orangetheory), I ran my strongest half marathon. Balancing all of my favorite fitness activities was a bit of a juggling act, so I thought I’d share some strategies if you’d like to incorporate class into your routine. 

Barre3

How to incorporate barre into a fitness routine:

-With cardio: You can certainly do cardio on the same day as a barre workout (I would do it afterwards), or the day before or after. Just make sure your legs aren’t TOO sore after barre. If they are, let them rest, or go for an easy walk instead of an intense run or HIIT session.

-With other strength workouts: I would do strength workouts on non-consecutive days with barre. For example, if you take a barre class on Monday, I’d wait until Wednesday to strength train again. Technically you could do them on consecutive days, but I believe that it’s a recipe for burnout or overtraining.

-With yoga: You could do a short yoga session at night after a barre class to stretch and meditate, but I wouldn’t recommend anything vigorous as your muscles were already fatigued earlier that day. In an ideal world, you would keep a day of rest or pure cardio in between barre and yoga. 

Can barre replace strength training?

Sure, as many barre classes utilize light dumbbells (which you can progressively increase). But, I would still recommend some traditional strength exercises (with a mix of balance, strength and power) to keep things fresh and avoid plateaus.

Some ideas and sample workout plans to combine barre with your current routine:

Adding barre into your routine

Hope this helps a little <3

xoxo

Gina

More: 

Focus On: Barre Workouts

Focus On: Physique 57

Focus On: Core Fusion

Does yoga count as strength training?

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59 Comments

  1. Brynn on July 15, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Thank you for the graphic! I love it and this makes it easy to understand how to incorporate barre into my workouts. My concern is that I’m pregnant- is barre recommended if you’re preggo? I took barre classes a year ago at a studio but haven’t since. I’m thinking it’s best to wait until post delivery?

    • Fitnessista on July 15, 2014 at 10:51 am

      congratulations 🙂 yes, barre is very preggo-friendly! we have many pregnant clients and there are ways to modify the supine exercises

      • Brynn on July 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

        Awesome, thanks Gina!

  2. Brittany on July 15, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Thanks so much for this, Gina! I have been struggling to incorporate barre without losing (what I view as) my very important, more intense, strength days. My lower body is my biggest problem area so I feel very termpted to take barre between lower body strength training days, but will try to resist given this information. One last question: say I’m incorporating a lot of the circuit-type workouts from the SSU, would it be advisable to wait a day between a SSU workout and a barre class? Thanks again!

    • Fitnessista on July 15, 2014 at 10:50 am

      yep, i totally would skip a day in between and do cardio or take a rest instead

  3. Megan on July 15, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I have never done barre before and the first time I ever heard about it was from your blog! I have danced my whole life and this seems like a workout I would love. I’m in such a routine with what kind of workouts I do now, and I think it’s about time to break that routine!

  4. Domi @ Eat, Pray, Lift on July 15, 2014 at 8:09 am

    So helpful! I’m hoping to figure out a way to incorporate some barre-love into my life, even though it’ll probably be at home for now. Love your barre videos for that. 🙂 If you have any recs for others (or plans to make more of your own…!), let me know!

  5. Calla on July 15, 2014 at 8:21 am

    LOVE the Barre3 core ball I see in there!!! I’m an instructor at Barre3 Atlanta-South Buckhead. I hope you’re working on a Barre3 cert and if so, can’t wait to read more about your progression through training in the future!

    • Fitnessista on July 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

      no, i was trained through another studio. i asked about teaching at barre3 when i first got here, but they weren’t planning on auditioning for another few months. luckily, i found another studio that’s closer to the house that i LOVE. it’s a fantastic workout and the girls at the studio are amazing

  6. s on July 15, 2014 at 8:48 am

    i’ve been wanting to try barre for a while. good to know that i can safely incorporate it into my marathon training — thanks!

  7. Katie on July 15, 2014 at 8:59 am

    I was so excited to see this post this morning!! I just started incorporating more Barre and Pilates into my weekly routine and haven’t quite figured out a balance with my strength, cardio, and yoga workouts. Thank you for the tips!!

  8. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on July 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Great post! I love barre workouts! The movements look easy but, oh boy, they are HARD! Also, I love all the little quakes!

  9. Sharon T on July 15, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I’m home with a 18 month old and don’t have orange Theory, Barre, or Body Pump within walking distance. I’ve been doing Core Fusion at home for the past month – which I think is similar to Barre. Just received thenBody Pump Program to do at home, which am excited about. Thanks for ideas of how to combine the two down the road, if needed. :0)

    • Fitnessista on July 15, 2014 at 10:48 am

      yes, core fusion is the same thing! love those dvds 🙂

  10. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on July 15, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I LOVE barre! Great post.

  11. Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona on July 15, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I went to my very first barre class not too long ago and really enjoyed it. I know I’ll be back soon.

  12. Allie on July 15, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Hi Gina, great post! I love Barre and have found that the best choice for me is to access Barre3’s online content for $15/month. There are so many videos, ranging from 10-60 minutes, and all can be done right in your home or hotel room. It is a great addition to the occasional $25 splurge for an in-person barre class.

    My question is: what length barre class constitutes a good workout on its own, and how long is right for combining with cardio in order to experience the strength and toning benefits of barre in a noticeable way?

    I realize the answer is different for all individuals– I’d love to hear your suggestions for someone who is already fairly–but not overly–active (a good week is…2 <5 mile runs, one tennis game, 1-2 yoga classes).

    Thanks for your insight!

    • Fitnessista on July 15, 2014 at 10:47 am

      i love their online workouts, too!
      for me, it’s a full class. i like to do a 10 minute segment as an extra blaster, but to fully fatigue my muscles, i like at least 30 minutes
      for busy friends, i recommend doing the 10 minute videos 3x a day when they get a chance

  13. Morgan on July 15, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Thank you for this! It has been on my mind and something I really really want to incorporate but just couldn’t figure out when/how without way overdoing the legs. No one likes to fear having to pee the next day 😉 The few barre workouts I have done (including some of your short videos in my office on lunch time #score) I have loved, but always wanted to try something longer; more of a full workout than an additional one.

  14. Sky @ The Blonde In Black on July 15, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I’ve been really interested in trying Barre, but since I do Crossfit I was worried that it might be too much on my body. I think the next time I have a week where I may not be able to go to Crossfit I’ll be trying a Barre workout. Thanks for the info!

  15. Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out on July 15, 2014 at 9:59 am

    As soon as i can get to a studio I am trying barre! I am so interested to test it out!!

  16. Carrie on July 15, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Great tips, thank you!

    Also, if you haven’t seen this Weird Al video yet, you need to:

    http://www.nerdist.com/vepisode/weird-al-yankovic-gets-tacky-with-pharrells-happy/

    Friday faves material for sure 😉

    • Fitnessista on July 15, 2014 at 10:45 am

      i’ve heard about it, but haven’t watched yet! happening now haha

  17. Britt@MyOwnBalance on July 15, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I love incorporating barre in with other forms of exercise like Zumba, yoga and strength training! It’s a great way to round out your workouts!

  18. Kaleigh on July 15, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I dabbled in some at home barre workouts prior to getting pregnant (I stopped all workouts from about 6-17 weeks preggers because I was suffering from ongoing “morning” sickness).

    Now, at 20 weeks, I’m feeling better so I have started reincorporating my beloved Pilates (at a studio – so appropriate modifications are made) and at home prenatal weight training. Would you consider Barre workouts safe for pregnancy? I especially like the idea of using a chair (i don’t have a bar set up at home) to use for stability (while doing some modified squats the other day I nearly tipped over….).

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

    • Kaleigh on July 15, 2014 at 10:59 am

      lol – I just read your response to the same question… Thanks!!

      • Fitnessista on July 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

        haha i was just going to write back to yours! 🙂 yes, very preg-friendly. congrats to you!

  19. Kristen on July 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I have done your Barre video’s and LOVE it! Can you (or anyone else) suggest any good barre video workouts? I would love to do the Barre3 monthly membership but its not really in my budget, but I could possibly justify a Barre video purchase. Otherwise keep your video’s coming, I love them!

  20. Cara on July 15, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Great post! I’ve recently stated taking barre and still want to incorporate strength traing but I don’t want to burn out! Thanks for all the info! Ps… Have you ever tried trx or ripped? Wondering if trx would be considered more of a heavy strength session even though it is all resistance and body weight…?

    • Fitnessista on July 15, 2014 at 10:55 am

      yes, i love TRX 🙂 i would still include some dumbbell or barbell work in there, even though it is a great strength workout. you just want to overload the muscles, which is difficult to do with bodyweight only

      • Cara on July 15, 2014 at 10:57 am

        Great! Thanks

  21. Sana on July 15, 2014 at 10:59 am

    This is an awesome post! Thanks so much 🙂

  22. Kristen @ Vitamin K Girl on July 15, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I cannot believe I have yet to take a barre class! As a former dancer & lover of the Tracy Anderson Method, I know it would be right up my alley. I really wish Les Mills would come out with a barre program so I could do it for free at my gym;)

  23. Megan @ The Skinny-Life on July 15, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Awesome post! Now that I’m recovered mostly from my foot injury, I have been thinking about getting back into Barre again. I’ve always struggled with how to fit in in though. I feel like if I skip cardio and do Barre instead on a particular day that I am not really getting a workout. That probably sounds silly, but it’s the truth.

  24. Melissa on July 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Awesome post! I’m incorporating barre into my marathon training schedule and it’s good to know I’m thinking about things in a smart way–either doubling up barre classes with an “easy” cardio/shorter run day or on its own on a “flex” day. I’m a fan of non-consecutive days too–I feel like I can get more out of my workout. Major props to those who can do barre classes 5-6 days a week!

  25. Bonnie on July 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Are Barre classes appropriate for someone who has a totally ruptured ACL and torn meniscus ( both in the same knee). My knee is stable. Just wondering if I should even try a class. I know Zumba is not even do-able.

    • Fitnessista on July 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      i would 100% skip it. the knee flexion would probably be too much, and i wouldn’t risk finding out.
      how does your knee do with yoga or pilates? swimming may be a good option too if your doc oks it

  26. Laura @ She Eats Well on July 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    It’s always great to incorporate different movement into your fitness routine. I would def. like to try barre workouts at least once a week ha… I’m attached to my yoga, running routine!

  27. Sara on July 15, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    This is a great post! Thank you 🙂
    I try to take barre at least 2x a week and pilates 1x a week and struggle with my schedule. I definitely need to add in more cardio and at least 1 day of strength with weights. Maybe doing a HIIT session on barre days would be doable time wise. It’s hard to fit it all in with 2 kids!

  28. jodie on July 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Love Barre workouts. Great addition to my Pilates schedule.

  29. Amy @ Dusty's Sister on July 15, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing! I tried barre about a year ago but the studio I went to stopped offering it. You’ve definitely motivated me to try to find a new spot! I miss it!

  30. Polly @ Tasty Food Project on July 15, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Gina! I’ve been wondering how I can fit barre in my regular workout routine and think this is very helpful!

  31. Pua on July 15, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for this info, Gina! I was going to ask about incorporating barre while pregnant, but I saw that you answered my question above. This is significant because, at 29 weeks, a lot of my workouts have been a bit too strenuous for me. I think barre would be a nice addition to what I’ve been doing, especially when/if I have to go easier!! 🙂

  32. Allison on July 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    My biggest gripe with balancing barre and other exercises is the cost factor. Studios make a month unlimited the best deal, so I always end up making my workout split just alternating days of barre. I’d love to do barre once a week along with other workout styles, but as far as I can tell, that’d be way more expensive! (The 10 and 20 class packs are way less cost-effective per class than a month unlimited if you go every other day). I do love my unlimited months though, it’s a good reset to my routine and I always see my muscles tone and change during the month. I actually like doing cardio on barre days before class, but I do a walk-jog combo that doesn’t totally kill my legs. When I looked into Orangetheory the cost distribution for their classes seemed to be about the same, so maybe I’ll look into doing a month of that next!

  33. Stacey on July 15, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Great post- thank you! I have read various blogs over the years and have recently narrowed it down to a select few. I rarely post but wanted to take a moment to thank you for providing a healthy perspective on a consistent basis. I think as women, we are often way too hard on ourselves (at least I know I can be) and you do a tremendous job of presenting a variety of topics while never losing the focus of balance. I applaud you and your committment to promoting a postive enviorment for your readers. Thank You.

    • Fitnessista on July 16, 2014 at 1:06 am

      thank you, stacey <3 that means a lot to me and i appreciate the kind comment. thank you for reading! xoxo

  34. Rachel @ Blonde with a Chanse on July 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Oh my goodness I want to take a Barre class so bad now! I need to find one as soon as I am back out in the city 🙂

  35. Kara on July 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Great post, Gina! Being a visual learner, I especially appreciated the graphics to help me see how I can give barre a try with my current workout schedule. I’m assuming “total body strength” is the equivalent to your SSU workouts and am planning to try barre on a non-consecutive day w/ a SSU workout.

    • Fitnessista on July 16, 2014 at 1:05 am

      yep that’s exactly right! so glad you found it helpful 🙂

  36. Laura B @ FitMamaLove on July 16, 2014 at 12:50 am

    This is like me trying to balance my Pilates teaching schedule with my other workouts. I only teach two classes a week, but it was tricky to figure out where to do the rest of my strength training and my cardio, especially since I don’t have enough time to do cardio on the days I teach due to the child care time limit. I’ve finally found a good balance and my routine looks a lot like the one you posted with total body strength, except I have two total body days + two Pilates days + two cardio only days.

  37. Paula on July 16, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Thank Gina! I’m wondering what your opinion of barre is is your goal is building muscle. I’ve lifted heavy for years, but I can’t go as all out as I used to, especially with squats and deadlifts. I have a naturally small frame so muscle is the only way I have some curve back there and I don’t want to loose it! Do you think barre would help, hurt, or not impact this?

    • Fitnessista on July 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

      barre will help with muscular endurance but not strength in the way that squats and deadlifts will. but, it will work your legs and glutes in an entirely different way. i’ve always combined barre with strength training (so i don’t know what the results are like skipping traditional strength and just doing barre), but when i do barre on a regular basis, i notice a physical difference in my legs and glutes.

  38. Heather on July 17, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Loved this post. I have actually found a barre studio where I can literally DO.IT.ALL and I’m so in loved that I’m in the process of training to become an instructor. It’s called The Barre Code. I love it because I never feel like I have to do a different kind of workout since they offer so many formats. Kickboxing, hot barre, baryasa (a spin on yoga), interval barre, barredio barre (dance/cardio with barre). All of the formats incorporate the barre in some way. I LOVE IT. Check it out if you ever get the chance. You will NOT regret it!!

    • Katie on March 3, 2015 at 8:15 am

      I just posted a comment about the Barre Code and then happened to scroll up and saw your comment! I just joined The Barre Code in Ann Arbor and am in love with it! I love the mix of classes and the instructors are all great (good luck with your training!)
      I am trying to figure out if I should be doing more outside of the studio i.e. running, heavy lifting to see results faster?

  39. Wilda on July 22, 2014 at 1:57 am

    I’ve been trying to incorporate barre into my routine, but I still havent figured out how to balance it with pilates and cardio.

  40. Katie on March 3, 2015 at 8:08 am

    Hi Gina!
    I love the graphic- really helpful!
    I joined a barre studio at the beginning of 2015 (The Barre Code), and have been going 5-6 days a week. There is a wide range of class types (barre, interval, boot camp, hot yoga, kickboxing). What I am wondering is should I incorporate running and heavy weight lifting into my weekly routine? I have seen some results since joining the studio, but would it be more efficient to incorporate exercise outside of the studio?
    Looking forward to your feedback!

    Katie

    • Fitnessista on March 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      hi katie!
      i would try to add in some cardio days and at least one traditional strength day
      xoxo

  41. Candice on May 21, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Hi Gina –

    I know most comments are from 2014, but just found this. Any suggestions on how to incorporate BodyPump/Barre and a cardio like T25. I love all three so much and can’t seem to figure out how to get them all and not overtrain. I was combing T25 and BodyPump which worked great for me, but I love barre and love the flexibility I have achieved. Any suggestions?

  42. Portia on July 16, 2016 at 10:25 am

    This is perfect! Thank you for doing the infographic. I’ve been doing Barre for about a month, and wanted to figure out how to balance it with other workouts.

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