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Many runners have a love-hate relationship with cross training, especially distance runners. After all, these athletes already spend so many hours training each week that the idea of squeezing in extra workouts can be unappealing. However, cross training plays a crucial role in a runner’s overall training program by ensuring the body stays balanced and healthy, ultimately helping to prevent injuries.

As a barre instructor for the last decade, I’ve seen many runners turn to barre to increase their strength, endurance, and flexibility; improve their posture and balance; and help counteract the muscle imbalances that can develop from long runs. I can usually spot a runner pretty quickly; they tend to shake the most during thigh work. While that may look like muscle weakness, it isn’t. It’s just that the isometric movements in barre class are very different from exercises like running or biking. Runners tend to have strong, developed legs, with the quad muscles being the most dominant and the hamstrings often being very tight. Thigh work challenges a runner’s strong thigh muscles to stay contracted for long periods, so they’re bound to shake and burn as the muscles become fatigued.

It may not always be comfortable, but barre can help address common runners’ issues like tight hip flexors and hamstrings, as well as weaknesses in the core and glute muscles. Try incorporating these nine barre moves into your routine, and don’t be surprised when your running game improves, too.

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