The Method

Play the long game: Bulking up before you slim down

With the holidays in full swing, most of us are kicking up our workouts into high gear and taking more barre classes than normal in an effort to counterbalance the increase in indulgences we typically encounter around this time of year. After all, isn’t that one of the main reasons we all work so hard in class? To enjoy life’s simple pleasures…and especially so during the holidays! We also notice an upswing in new clients at the studios during this time of year, as the motivation “to look good and feel good” for the new year starts to weigh heavier on our minds.

Occasionally, new clients will tell us they feel their jeans are getting tighter soon after they start taking Bar Method classes. We understand this is alarming, especially when many clients are attending class to make those same pants feel looser. It’s true that, initially, some clients do bulk up slightly. The good news is that many of those clients who hang in there, while consistently attending class, go on to lose inches and drop pant sizes. Here are the reasons why some clients might bulk up before they slim down.

1. Your Muscles are Growing:

The Bar Method - Barre - Shoulder Workout - DeltoidsAs a new client, you activate many smaller muscles that you’re not accustomed to working in other forms of exercise. As a result, you experience muscle hypertrophy – muscle fiber growth – thereby firming your muscles. When muscles are underworked, and therefore soft, it’s easy to squeeze them into a pair of jeans. When your muscles are shapely, they fight back against the clothing because they’re defined rather than malleable.

2. Your Muscles are Retaining Water:

Bar Method - Barre - Leg Lifts - Leg workout As you strengthen your muscles, microscopic tears occur in your muscle fibers. These tears are part of the muscle-building process and are often the cause of muscle soreness the day after, or a few days after your workout. When these tears occur, your muscles may swell slightly and retain fluid for a few days after. This is normal and will subside as your muscles become more dense and stronger.

3. Your Muscles Strengthen Faster than You Burn Fat:

Bar Method - Barre - Lunges - Leg workout If you’ve been a self-proclaimed “cardio queen” prior to joining The Bar Method, your body likely has a higher percentage of fat than someone who has been strength training for longer. Burning fat takes longer than growing muscle. In order to slim down, the fat burning component of The Bar Method needs time to catch up with how quickly your muscles are strengthening. Be patient to give your body time to burn off the extracellular fat and showcase your newly defined muscles.

4. Your Muscles Have Tensed Up:

The Bar Method - Barre - thigh stretchMany new clients have extremely tight muscles due to a lack of adequate and properly timed stretching in their other forms of exercise. Once they begin taking Bar Method classes, those muscles become even tighter as they firm up. As your muscles release this tension, they wrap tightly around the bone, creating a sleek, well defined shape. Your muscles go through a lot when they are changing shape. Stay focused, have faith and learn to love your slender, sculpted body!

Blog Contributor:
Lauren Carabelli, The Bar Method Hingham Instructor

About The Author Jessica Bowman