HOW THE BAR METHOD SLIMS YOU DOWN AND KEEPS YOU AEROBICALLY FIT

Since the 70s, millions of active Americans have been led to believe that aerobics slims you down and strength work tones your muscles.  The truth is not so simple. 

In fact most kinds of exercise that keep us moving continuously for more than a few moments, strength work included, are aerobic.  Stored fat is our most convenient energy source, so our bodies use it as soon as possible, that is, after you’ve finished the warm-up stage of your workout.  Walking, running, vacuuming, anything that raises your heart rate above resting level, burns both carbs and fat.

The question we should really be asking is: how do we maximize the number of fat calories burned from exercise?  To find this out, experts now rely less on how aerobic a particular type of exercise is, and more on how intense it is.  Want to know which exercise routine to choose when you’re trying to drop a few dress sizes?  Experts now suggest you rank them by level of intensity.   Pretty straight forward: work harder; use more fuel.

So how do you determine intensity?  Think back to that old adage: “feel the burn.”  The burn in your muscles is a good clue that your workout is getting intense.  To find out just how intense, try clocking the amount of time you spend during your workout while experiencing a muscle burn.  If it’s zero, you’re not using a lot of calories.  If it’s a good part of your workout, you’re cooking with fire.  Want to up your caloric expenditure?  Increase your level of muscle burn until you can barely continue.  Now you’re cooking with dynamite!

Using intensity as a gauge, you can now see through the old adage that walking’s a better fat burner than running.  Truth be known, walking does not burn a lot of calories per minute of exercise.   Go for a two-hour run and you’ll burn about a half a pound of fat.  You’d need to walk for five hours to match that result.  Yes, compared with running, walking can burn a somewhat higher proportion of fat calories than it does carbs, but compared with running, it simply does not do a good job when it comes to burning total calories.  Intense aerobic activity burn calories like crazy and so is doing away with a lot more fat calories per minute of exercise, even if its fat-to-carb ratio is lower than that of walking.   Bottom line: walking is not an efficient calorie burner because it’s not intense exercise.

For the same reason, yoga and pilates use relatively little energy.  Kick up the intensity with running, biking and other aerobic sports, and you get a much better result: more calories consumed and a gain in aerobic stamina to up your caloric burn during your next workout.

Granted: Running, biking, rowing and other high-energy exercise all do an okay job on the “calories out” side of the fuel equation.   To do better – to burn even more calories during exercise and to drop even more jean sizes – you’d need to up the level of intensity you experience during aerobics.  But how?

Recently a new student walked into a Bar Method studio to sign up for classes.  “I’m going to take the Bar Method once a week, because I love it,” she told the front desk manager.  “But I’m trying to lose some weight, so I’m going to run on the other days.”  If this student had chosen instead to take the Bar Method four days a week, she probably would have ended up a dress size or two smaller.  Like this student, most fitness consumers believe the best remedy for extra pounds is running.  It’s only when Bar Method students see their bodies shrink beyond what they were able to accomplish by running do they begin to understand that there’s something more you can do to shrink your body besides run. To read how Bar Method shapes muscles as well, read How To Sculpt a Dancer’s Body. 

The problem with running is that by its very nature it’s limited in the degree of intensity it can produce.  Unless you’re planning a brief sprint, running leaves you no choice but to proceed at less than top speed, simply in order to keep going.  If you did attempt to run at top speed, your body would give out after a few moments.  This is running’s catch 22:  It challenges you, but there’s a kind of glass ceiling of intensity beyond which it won’t let you go.

Click here to find Bar Method exercise classes near you.

Click here to sample and buy Bar Method exercise dvds.

41 replies
  1. Sheri
    Sheri says:

    This blog is great!! Thanks for starting it!! I was wondering if you had any opinion as to how often to do Bar Method per week. I’ve taken classes in a studio in the past (3 per week) in addition to doing pilates about 3 times a week. I was thrilled with the results. I cannot make it to the studio at this time so I have been working out at home. I’m noticing if I try to keep up a 5 to 6 times per week frequency, I get less results than if I do it less often. Is there a reason for this or am I just a freak of nature? I’d really like to know the recommendations for this form of exercise. I do not want to sabatoge my results. Thanks!!!

    Reply
  2. Tanny
    Tanny says:

    Hi,

    What is the recommended number of Bar Method visits per week for toning and losing a few lbs?

    Is it good to mix in a little running and biking with Bar Method visits? If yes, how many/how often?

    Thanks,

    Tanny

    Reply
  3. Mimi Fleischman
    Mimi Fleischman says:

    You will get results if you do Bar Method at least 3 times a week. You will start getting some reshaping of your body within the first month but long term practice gives you the total body sculpting that Bar Method students achieve. If you can come in more, let’s say 4 to 5 times a week, that is even better. Results are also affected by how hard you work in class and good form. Cardio does not help achieve body sculpting goals, but can be a lot of fun and it is good for your heart, too.

    Reply
  4. Mimi Fleischman
    Mimi Fleischman says:

    The Bar Method workout burns between 250 and 500 calories during the class depending on body size and fitness level. Additionally the workout stimulates the body to burn off up to 200 excess calories during the first four-to-six hours after the workout.
    Best, Burr

    Reply
  5. Bridget Slayden
    Bridget Slayden says:

    I love your blog! After having 3 children, I have worked hard to keep fit. Of course, I turned to running. At first it worked, but after awhile I would literally have to run for hours to get any benefit in toning my legs and stomach. I usually gave up after a few months disgusted–I don’t have that much time to devote to exercise (only to try again a few months later). I’ve tried Tae Bo, Pilates, Yoga, walking etc. Nothing worked. By chance I found a Bar Method DVD at the library. I loved it. I bought the Bar Method DVDs a couple of months ago and use them often 3-4 times a week. I had tailbone pain for years (since my 2nd child)–exercise usually made it worse– since about the 8th time of doing the Bar Method, my tailbone pain has disappeared. I would go to a studio in a heartbeat (but none exist in Southwest Missouri). I just thought I’d share my story and say thank you!! I will help spread the word.

    Reply
  6. Kim
    Kim says:

    I have read that if you weight train you should take a day off between weight training. Does this apply to the bar method? I try to do the bar method 4 days a week but it seems if I do it 2 days in a row my muscles are really tired and I don’t work as hard and I am wondering if I would get better results, going every other day?

    Reply
  7. Cat
    Cat says:

    Hi I love the bar method, I live far from a studio however I can drive in to a class at least once a week and then do the rest at home using dvd’s I will do 1 class plus 4x per week at home like the support and guidance from the class does this sound like a good idea?

    Thanks

    Cat

    Reply
  8. Mimi Fleischman
    Mimi Fleischman says:

    Dear Cat,
    You have a great plan! The DVD’s alone are also doing wonders for people all over the country. But adding one class a week will both inspire you and give you an extra boost.
    Best,
    Mimi
    Mimi Fleischman
    Bar Method Los Angeles

    Reply
  9. JUlie Alberalla
    JUlie Alberalla says:

    Will you see better results if you do the bar method DVD’s (I don’t live near a studio) for 5 days a week instead of daily? Should you let your muscles have a break, or doesn’t it really matter?

    I find if I skip a day then I find it harder to get back into it.

    Reply
  10. Mimi Fleischman
    Mimi Fleischman says:

    Dear Julie,
    That question and a lot of your questions are answered at http://www.barmethod.com/questions/dvd-faq.html

    Or you can go to thewww.BarMethod.com website and then “Ask Burr” and then FAQs for the DVDs.

    In any case, what she says there about your question is: We recommend that students do the Bar Method three-to-five times a week. Within that frequency, individuals vary with regard to what works best for them. The best way to tell how many times a week is right for you is to listen to your body. If you feel yourself getting stronger and feeling better, your frequency is okay. If you start feeling fatigued, you’re probably going too often. The right frequency also depends on what else you’re doing in your life. If you’re working 10 hours a day and not getting a lot of sleep, you might not be able to tolerate more than about three days a week.

    Going more than five days a week is not productive because it doesn’t make you much stronger and can actually slow down your progress by not leaving enough time for your muscles to recover.

    Keep doing the DVD’s but take a day off every 5 days at least.

    Best,
    Mimi
    Bar Method L.A.

    Reply
  11. Kim
    Kim says:

    I have all your DVD’s. I recently just started doing them again in combination with the new ones. Is there a specific progression to have effective weight loss. I alternate between the DVD’s.

    Reply
  12. Tess Shishido
    Tess Shishido says:

    I’ve been working out at the Bar Method Studio in Pasadena. I gained 3 lbs in one month and I’m eating a little less. I’m getting a little frustrated and sad. I feel like my body is getting firmer and my dance partner said that I’m moving a lot better and more smoothly, but the number on the scale keeps on creeping up. I can’t eat any better than I am now; lots of fruits and veggies and salads and not much refined carbs– a decent amount of protein. Help!

    Reply
  13. Mimi Fleischman
    Mimi Fleischman says:

    Hi Tess,
    You are not alone. This is a phase, which will pass

    Stay with it and you’ll achieve your goals!
    Best,
    Mimi

    Reply
  14. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    I just got a Fluidity Bar and I’m waiting for the Bar method DVD’s to come to in the mail. I was just wondering how effective this workout is for losing weight? I have about 30 pounds I would like to loss. How often do you need to do the DVD’s and should you still do Cardio? I appreciate any advice?

    Reply
  15. anonymous
    anonymous says:

    would like to know if I can get a Bar Method DVD which will be acceptable on English DVD player – at the moment unable to find anywhere and I am extremely interested in doing the Bar Method. Thank you Linda – Kent England

    Reply
  16. amy
    amy says:

    I started doing the Bar Method (fat free) at home back in Feb. I started with twice a week and was amazed when i could get into a pair of capris i haven’t been able to wear for 2 years. My muscles are more sculpted and my posture is much better.

    I am going to up my bar method workout to every other day and see what happens. I have a tendency to “bulk up” which I have seen in my upper arms already (any ideas?) but am hoping that if i keep it up, this will go away.

    I was doing walking/aerobic programs in between but am a little tired of that right now.

    has anyone tried the newew bar method workouts?

    Reply
  17. Sylvia
    Sylvia says:

    Hi,

    I wanted to share my personal experience with the Bar Method and aerobic fitness. While I hike or bike a couple times a month, the Bar Method in LA has been my primary source of exercise (5+ times a week) for the last year.

    This past August, I did a last-minute (ie, no training) 14-hour, 22-mile summit of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the Continental US. The climb has more than a mile of elevation change, but other than feeling the altitude at 14,000′, I felt fantastic! I was so impressed that my studio work at the Bar Method translates to other activities, keeping me fit enough to accomplish a monster (and fabulous) athletic endeavor.

    Thanks Bar Method!

    Reply
  18. Mimi Fleischman
    Mimi Fleischman says:

    Hi Sylvia,
    Thanks so much for your comment! We love it when our clients are able to do more and feel great in their other activities whether they are ballet classes, skiing, or mountain climbing. Congratulations on your impressive accomplishment!
    Best,
    Mimi

    Reply
  19. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    I have been researching the barre method for a month or so and have decided to put a dvd on my christmas list this year. I was wondering how soon I can expect to see results and how often a week I should do it? I am looking to lose around 20lbs and was wondering if this would work. Thanks!

    Reply
  20. Bar Method Headquarters
    Bar Method Headquarters says:

    Hi Ashley:

    How exciting to start a new exercise regimen in the New Year. The Bar Method can certainly help you with your fitness and weight loss goals when used in conjunction with a healthy diet. We recommend performing the exercises at least 3 times a week to see results and you may consider adding some cardio to your regimen, but of course, please consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.

    If you are new to The Bar Method, we recommend starting with the Beginner’s Workout DVD. As you get stronger and master the basic technique of each exercise, consider “graduating” to one of our advanced DVDs to increase your fitness and results. Burr is producing two more advanced workout DVDs this year – these would be a great addition to your fitness library.

    Best of Luck
    The Bar Method Headquarters

    Reply
  21. Linda
    Linda says:

    I have a fitness dvd library that I promised myself that I would complete each dvd for 90 days 3-4x a week, depending on the program. Right now, I am in my 2nd month of the Bar Method Advanced. I’ll be 55 next month, but people think I’m in my late 30’or early 40’s which can be a curse or blessing. They tell me I don’t look my age and my body is “hot”. Well, I feel I need a lot work to do, but those comments help. To my surprise, I’m fitting into jeans I bought 2 years ago that still had the tags on them. Next month, I switch to the Change Your Body dvd for 90 days, and then on to the next!

    Reply
  22. Bar Method Headquarters
    Bar Method Headquarters says:

    Hi Linda:

    What an inspiring testimonial! Keeping fit and looking “hot” is great at any age. Keep us informed of your progress and look out for our upcoming Super Sculpting DVDs later this year.

    The Bar Method Headquarters

    Reply
  23. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    Hi – I don’t think we have any classes/studios in my areas but I have ordered one dvd so far. I am happy to order more if need be based upon recommendation. Will I get similar results from the dvd that one would get from attending a class? I currently have the Super Sculpting Workout and would love to know what else you recommend. Thanks!

    ~ danielle

    Reply
  24. Chris
    Chris says:

    I just started the Bar Method 2 days ago and will be going to my third class today. I am trying to lose a significant amount of weight – 65 pounds, and I’m trying to avoid the sagging skin that comes with weight loss. I know that building muscle can help reduce or even prevent sagging skin during weight loss. Will the bar method help me lose that much weight if I go 4 times per week? Will it help prevent sagging skin? How long does it take to see results? Thanks!

    Chris

    Reply
  25. Amie
    Amie says:

    I just started taking classes and today is my 3rd class. My body is sore everywhere which is great – so excited because I have a hard time sticking with anything. I’m going mon thru fri during lunch- how long before I start seeing real results? I want to look hot in my bikini for my vacation in a few months.

    Reply
  26. Ally
    Ally says:

    I just started my bar method classes this week to look extra good for summer, doing two days and then one day break and then two more days and it works so well!! It’s so effing hard but you feel GREAT afterwards and it makes me lose my appetite for some reason. I swear your muscles burn the whole time, especially your legs. I’ve only done 3 classes but my legs are tighter and I feel really skinny. It’s soo worth the hardness!!

    Reply
  27. Tina
    Tina says:

    The only dvds that have me in the aerobic range for an extended period of time are Super Sculpting 1 and Dancer’s Body. I am 5’2 and 120 lbs, and I burn about 300 calories doing those workouts at home. The other workouts burn between 200 and 300 cals. I use a heart rate monitor. I found that I was losing inches and toning up but not necessarily losing weight. I have changed my frequency from 5 to 6 times a week down to 3 or 4 times a week, but I do fun cardio like dance. I am finding that to be an effective mix of activity for me and am now losing. The barre work is at the core because I would just be skinny fat if I just did aerobic.

    Reply
  28. Bar Method HQ
    Bar Method HQ says:

    Hi Amanda,
    We would recommend speaking to your instructors about this so that they can pay extra attention to your form in round back and curl. Using a small mat in these exercises could make all the difference. Thanks for your inquiry!

    Bar Method HQ

    Reply
  29. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    Do you have any scientific studies done on the aerobic aspect of the Bar Method? I would really like to read the research that you used to design the program.
    Thanks
    Danielle

    Reply
  30. Bar Method Headquarters
    Bar Method Headquarters says:

    Hi Danielle,

    We don’t yet have scientific studies on the Bar Method. We agree that studies would be useful, since most of them done so far involve only steady-state aerobics or weight lifting. We hope to have studies to report in the future! Thank you for your inquiry!

    Best,

    Bar Method HQ

    Reply
  31. Sara
    Sara says:

    Hi Mimi and Burr

    You mentioned new dvds were coming out, I own all of the ones listed, are there still plans to roll out new dvds that are even more challenging?

    Thanks
    Sara

    Reply
  32. Jen P
    Jen P says:

    I joined the Kansas City The Bar Method community almost exactly 1 year ago. I have been doing TBM almost exclusively — save for a few bike rides. I was donating platelets recently and my resting heart rate was 51, blood pressure 106/69. That’s about a 20 bpm reduction in the past year. I’ve also dropped from 41% body fat to 29% with no loss of muscle. Yes, The Bar Method absolutely works!!!

    Reply
    • Jessica Bowman
      Jessica Bowman says:

      WOW Jen! That’s amazing news! My apologies for the delay in replying to you. Our blog has been and still is in a bit of a transition as we are working on the new look and feel of our website. I’m checking all the comments today and just so happy to have stumbled across such a great testimonial for the method! Keep up the amazing work!

      Reply

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