By now you’ve probably heard all about the benefits of barre workouts, with their slow, controlled movements that can get your muscles shaking and burning.
Inspired by ballet and Pilates, these classes can help tone and strengthen your entire body — especially your core and booty.
But, to reap the full benefits of your routine, you want to make sure you’re doing all of your barre moves correctly.
It starts with choosing a barre workout that focuses on keeping you healthy while you build strength and burn calories.
“Xtend Barre is a form-focused program that uses controlled, precise movements,” says Andrea Rogers, creator of the Xtend Barre workout at Beachbody.
“No other workout combines grace and athleticism like Xtend Barre. Combining traditional Pilates methods with ballet and high-energy cardio, the workout is designed to sculpt the body into a lean, toned, ‘dancer-like’ body,” says Rogers. .
“Not only will you see physical results, but you’ll also gain a solid understanding of how to move with good technique and form, which in turn increases body awareness and confidence.”
Why is proper form so important?
At barre, as with any workout, proper form is paramount, Rogers says.
Although Xtend Barre is suitable for all levels, those new to the practice should focus their training on the fundamentals, which help prevent injuries, teach you to activate the correct muscles and increase body awareness.
“With proper form, you’re going to prevent straining or pulling muscles, causing injury,” Rogers explains.
“And it enables you to activate the muscles effectively, getting more ‘bang for your buck’ from each rep.”
And, emphasizing proper form with all barre exercises is what creates that aforementioned “dancer’s body.”
“Building body awareness at the bar will condition you to carry it with you in your daily life, creating better posture and a healthier body,” Rogers explains.
His cues throughout the Xtend Barre workout will remind you to keep your shoulders back and down, your core engaged, and your chest up.
6 Most Common Barre Form Mistakes
Rogers is a classically trained Pilates instructor and former professional dancer, so it’s no surprise that she can quickly spot form mistakes that can cause problems.
The main mistake of newbies?
Exaggerated movement to look like a dancer: going too low in the place/squat, turning their legs too far, or stretching too deep.
“Dancers have been doing those movements for years,” Rogers said. “We encourage our students to use their natural range of motion.”
Your flexibility and range of motion will increase over time!
Here, Rogers breaks down six common barre form mistakes you’re likely making (don’t worry — you’re not the only one!) and offers his expert advice on how to correct them.
1. You’re not breathing
In barre, your breathing isn’t as regimented as in Pilates or yoga, but your breath is important, Rogers says.
“At Extend, we focus on not holding your breath to get ‘into’ an exercise,” he explains. This can increase the risk of injury and impair the effectiveness of barre moves.
You’ll sweat during Xtend Barre (it combines strength and cardio, for weight loss and toning), so holding your breath will feel very uncomfortable.
How it can be repaired: “Use your breath as a tool to help further engage your muscles and deepen your potential,” Rogers says.
Listen to his cues throughout your workout, and you’ll start practicing exercises like exhaling or stretching through the hardest part of your abs move.
2. You’re tucking your tailbone all the time
Barre “tucks” are common in some classes – but not in Xtend Barre.
The tuck is actually a backward tilt of the pelvis and lower back, so when you do a butt squeeze it compresses your lower back, setting you up for injury.
“We work in a neutral spine position to maintain a strong and healthy spine,” says Rogers.
Barre tucks should be reserved for very low-impact exercises, he says, and your abs should always be contracted to protect your back.
How it can be repaired: Don’t tuck your booty or tuck your tailbone down – keep your hips centered over your feet.
“Imagine working between two window panes to keep your spine neutral,” says Rogers.
3. You’re not keeping your core engaged
Rogers talks about the original a lot In every Xtend Barre workout — for good reason.
“Every movement starts with the core,” she says. “We start from the inside – if you don’t engage your core, you’ll likely feel unbalanced and struggle with coordination and execution of a move.”
Barre also helps build a healthy back and strong pelvic floor, which is your core.
How it can be repaired: It’s not about breastfeeding. It’s all about finding strength in your core, especially the transverse abdominis—those deepest core muscles, says Rogers.
“Take time to break down how to properly engage your core by focusing on pulling your abs in and up. Imagine your core is a corset and you tie the strings tighter.”
4. You’re Using the Wrong Weight (or No Weight)
Xtend Barre uses light weights to increase total body strength. Newbies sometimes skip them — or overdo it.
“If you’re not using weights, you’re not getting as strong and sculpting as you could be,” Rogers says.
But reach for too heavy a weight and you may feel the strain on your neck and shoulders.
How it can be repaired: Rogers recommends sticking with 1- to 3-pound weights. If you don’t have any lying around, take household items like water bottles or canned food.
“The goal is to encourage your muscles to resist gravity,” she says.
5. You’re skipping cooldown stretches
If you’re not doing cooldown stretches, you’re missing out on some of the best barre moves.
Rogers calls the cooldown your reward for making it through all those reps.
“I believe in stretching,” she says. “Your body needs to go through its full range of motion.”
And, at the end of your workout, when your body is warm and your muscles are tired, stretching feels good.
How it can be repaired: Hang in there at the end!
“The cooldown is also a mental game that allows you to fully decompress and focus on your body,” Rogers explains, adding that it’s a time to reflect on everything you’ve done and how far you’ve come.
6. You’re using momentum, not your muscles
Barre exercises are all about control, so don’t be tempted to rush through them.
“You’ll be using momentum to help you move, which can lead to injury,” warns Rogers. “Over time, you start to understand how not to use weak areas to compensate for movement.”
How it can be repaired: Slow down, breathe and remember: “Momentum is not a muscle.” (This is one of Rogers’ favorite allusions.)
“We constantly point to core initiation and a neutral spine,” she says, which reminds you to stay strong from the inside out — so momentum can’t take over.