When it comes to weight loss, there’s a lot of information out there. And when you start comparing the sources that rely on the most timely, unbiased exercise science out there, to those that rely on outdated information; one quickly realizes there’s just as much misinformation to sort through.
One of the most common misconceptions that I hear from students goes like this- “I love my barre workout but need to add something else for cardio in order to lose weight.”
I want to educate people that in fact they can get everything their body needs in a one-hour class at The Bar Method, three to five times a week. But to make that assertion, let’s first back up to where this way of thinking originated. For a long time, there were two primary schools of thought regarding exercise and weight loss.
- The first belief system said that the only way to lose weight was to melt fat off through strenuous cardio, like a spin class or running. If you’ve ever taken a killer aerobics class- in that moment where your face is beet-red, your clothes are drenched and you’re flirting with unconsciousness- it’s hard to imagine anything else being more effective at shedding pounds. Sure, you’re incinerating mega calories in that moment, but when we’re trying to achieve lasting weight loss, it’s important to look the other 23 hours in the day. *Note that this belief exploded in the 80s when step-classes and aerobic exercise videos were all the rage.
- The other says that by building lean muscle mass, you’ll burn more fat overall because you’re burning fat while you’re resting; it raises our resting metabolic rate (RMR). Muscle mass is built through strength-training, which can include lifting weights, resistance training or using our own body weight and good old-fashioned gravity, like we do so often in barre.
The correct answer? Well, it incorporates a bit of both- cardio does burn more calories in the moment, but it’s most effective when you’re also building lean muscle through strength training. Recent studies show that you can get better results, both aerobic and strength gains, from three strength training sessions a week than you can from an hour of cardio, five days a week. This means that, in terms of fat loss, strength training is the best way to add lean muscle and burn calories on an ongoing basis. It also ensures that we don’t lose your muscle mass while we exercise and eat for fat-loss.
Ever heard the term skinny-fat? The number on the scale is dropping and you may be able to zip those skinny jeans but without adding lean muscle, it also means a saggy butt, flabby tummy and loose-feeling skin. Probably not the outcome you were working so hard for, right? You’re losing weight, not necessarily fat.
How Barre hits the Weight Loss Spot
In a one-hour class at The Bar Method, our heart rate is elevated to that sweet spot just under our anaerobic threshold. Here, we’re burning fat but cortisol levels are lower than they are after an aerobic class, allowing the body to more effectively release fat stores, especially those around our waist. We’re enjoying the cardio benefits of an anaerobic workout in class, but energy continues to burn for several more hours as our bodies work to repair and build the muscles we exhausted in class.
Did you know that women lose an average of 5% of our muscle-mass every 10 years after age 35. Since the presence of lean muscle increases our resting metabolic rate, this is one reason it’s easier to pack on extra weight and can be more difficult to shed it as we age (it’s not just in your head). This only means that strength-training becomes increasingly important as we outsmart the aging process and keep our metabolisms revved through the decades- not to mention the benefits of strength training on bone density, posture and mental health as we age… but that’s for another post.
I say all of this to tell you that, you can get everything your body needs in a one-hour class at The Bar Method, three-five times a week (consistency is key). However, there are so many benefits to moving in general that, if you find any form of exercise you love- dive in headfirst! If your body and mind are craving the “high” that comes after a long run- then, run, Forest, run! Paddleboard, climb, spin, lift, down-dog and, of course, barre- with wild abandon. Movement is life and, aside from the cardio or fat-loss benefits of an active lifestyle, it just makes the journey a lighter, brighter, happier one.
But for me, personally? I’ll see you at the barre.
Want to experience the unique blend of cardio and strength training that come from a one-hour class at The Bar Method? Book a class at The Bar Method Atlanta, either at our Lenox (Buckhead) or East Cobb (Marietta) locations.