Why Do My Legs Shake During Barre?

You hold onto the back of a chair, position yourself in a barre-style squat with heels raised and back straight, and then it begins. shake

Maybe it’s small at first, but the longer you stay, the more it practically becomes a volcano, starting from your thighs and extending down to your calves.

And so you wonder: “Why do my legs shake during the bar? Is it normal? Or am I still not strong enough?”

Not everyone has this reaction, but it’s common enough that you’ll see plenty of barre studios selling workout tank tops and t-shirts that say “Wake and Shake,” “Hug Hug,” and “Eat, Sleep, Shake.”

What’s going on? Andrea Rogers, founder of Xtend Barre, offers some insight into this very common phenomenon.

Why are you shaking in barre class?

Any time you start a new type of workout program, you’re going to challenge your body in new ways, Rogers says.

Even if you’re a seasoned triathlete or lift heavy weights at the gym most days, you’ll come to barre class feeling completely different than your usual training style.

When you work muscles in a new way, they react in a new way.

At barre, you’re challenging your muscular endurance by holding the contraction longer than you’re probably used to.

When you become fatigued, the motor units (that is, the nerves and muscle fibers that stimulate it) within your working muscles begin to go out of service.

The more this happens, the less smooth and more jerky the muscle contractions become.

Many people find that they jerk less as they continue with bare workouts, because the muscles are conditioned to this response.

But some people shake no matter what, and no matter how much they barre.

Shaking during the barre is not indicative of your fitness level (or lack thereof).

What if you’re not shaking in barre class?

Because jerking is so common at Barre, you might think that the more vibration the better, which means that if your thighs are still, you’re not working hard enough.

But not so, says Rogers.

A better measure of how hard you’re working at Xtend Barre is to check with your perception of how hard the next few reps feel.

“You want to get into the challenge zone, which is about hitting the sweet spot,” she says.

“You’re giving it your all but still staying safe and operating within the speed limit that’s right for you. Get to the point where you feel like you physically can’t do one more rep. And then you do.”

Find out if you’re the wobbly type — and get a powerhouse workout at the same time — with Xtend Barre, which offers 30-minute, stream-at-home classes with no barre required (all you need is a sturdy chair or counter).

Xtend Barre starts with a foundation of dance and Pilates, but it also incorporates some fat-burning cardio movements.

Rogers offers plenty of motivation and support to help you push through the burn while respecting where your body is right now.

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