Q: Hi Dior, Like you, I did Barre3 and Plana Forma. I stopped immediately though because after a month of doing it, my jeans got tighter. I really felt that I bulked up. Shouldn't the workout suppose to slim me down??

A: I sometimes hear complaints such as these from fellow followers of exercises that involve the ballet barre. I had the same complaint last year when I tried strength work for the first time. Changes in the body usually come in fast when doing Barre3 or Plana Forma so first-timers are usually surprised to see muscles in places they didn't expect. Clearly, we're acquiring some muscle definition. But are we bulking up? In the long term, no. After six-to-twelve months of classes, most of us will have lost a few inches around their hips and waist and have gone down a few pant sizes.
In the short term however, after a night of research, I realized that we're not just imagining it. Barre exercises really can make your jeans fit tighter. But hang in there. After about four months, your body will start to shrink down.

The truth is, there are really well-established reasons for this awkward stage, and if students knew them, they would be less freaked out by tighter-fitting outfits and more likely to stick with the workout until the ultimate results come into view. Here then is the true story of what happens inside muscles that cause them to get bigger before they shrink down," says Bar Method founder Burr Leonard.

First, after the first few weeks of classes, muscles that were formerly not worked stop sagging and become firmer. “Within 2 or 3 months of the onset of training,” writes Tetsura Tamaki, a Japanese physiologist, “Muscle hypertrophy [growth of muscle fiber]…may be observed.” The effect of this change can be scary. Butts and thighs that had easily conformed to the shape of whatever piece of clothing they were being shoved into now start pushing back against the fabric with a shape of their own.

Second, newly strengthened muscles retain water. We use stress to strengthen them, and the resulting soreness causes the surrounding tissues to swell until things calm down. “Extracellular water increases transiently in the muscle to relieve inflammation of the muscle soft-tissues,” Tamaki says.

Third, fat becomes an issue when you’ve just started shaping your muscles. Students unaccustomed to strength work often start out with a higher body fat percentage than regular exercisers. Unfortunately, fat takes a lot longer to get rid of than muscles do to change shape. So until the fat burning component within the Bar Method workout catches up, students’ old bodysuits of fat are what get showcased by their newly lifted muscles. Yikes.
Lastly, newly shaped muscles are tight. Think of the way your body felt the first few weeks after starting a new workout. All sculpting exercise basically consists of contractions.  Freshly toned muscles, therefore, tend to be bunchy until they allow themselves over time to become more elastic and wrap themselves closer to the underlying bone.

Q&A is a new section of my blog where I'd be posting beauty-related questions from my clients, readers and anyone really. To submit a question (and get an answer of course!), email questions to diorco@gmail.com. You might just read your query here in my blog and at the same time help others get answers to the same beauty worry!

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