O BARRE 101
WHY ALL THE PULSES!?
So your sitting in chair pose at the barre, your legs are trembling and shaking like a leaf and your instructor shouts "one last set of pulses!" Whether it's your first or 100th barre class your shouting in your mind - why all the pulses!? No, this isn't some form of barre torture - we promise. There is a reason for all the pulses. Let us explain.
WHAT IS A PULSE?
A pulse is a small movement that is less than an inch in either direction. This type of movement is called an isometric movement. Isometric movements occur when a muscle tenses without changing its length, almost like a small contraction. This contraction is then followed by the release of the muscle, resulting in a small one-inch movement back into the original position. An isometric movement is the opposite of concentric and eccentric movements. These occur when a muscle stretches then shortens - think bicep curls. During the barre classes at O WELLNESS we use a combination of both of these movements. After several sets of pulses, you'll feel it! You'll feel that deep burn in your muscles and you may have a case of the shakes – your muscles are at the point of exhaustion. This is where the concentric and eccentric movements come in. The pulses are often followed by a set of singles (full plies, squats, lunges etc), which help flush out the lactic acid that built up during the isometric movements. SCIENCE!
WHY ALL THE PULSES?
Now that you know exactly what a pulse is - we can tell you WHY WE DO SO MANY OF THEM! Put simply, an isometric movement helps maintain muscle strength. It also works really well to strengthen muscles without adding too much bulk. Isometric exercises target specific muscles that are often not targeted in other types of exercise. These movements are also great for targeting multiple muscle groups at once. There is less strain on ligaments and tendons during isometric movements, preventing injuries more common in traditional strength training. A benefit of isometric exercises is that you can hold a position while continuously engaging your muscle. The pulse acts like a mini-recovery allowing you to hold positions for longer and perform a higher number of sets, increasing both strength and endurance.
So there you have it! Pulses = increase strength + endurance! Which is why your O BARRE instructor will take you to that point of muscle exhaustion. THAT IS WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS! This is where YOU make the magic happen!