Alicia Capetillo, Editor at SparkPeople 7/18/2017
If you've ever gotten out of bed the day after a workout, grimaced and thought to yourself, "I didn't even know I had a muscle there!" you're probably experiencing a post-barre-based class soreness. The trendy ballet-based workout that utilizes a barre for deeper muscle-burning moves continues to attract new devotees due to its body-transforming powers and hurts-so-good tiny, pulsing movements that leave your muscles feeling shaky yet strong. You've never felt isometric moves quite like these.
Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, The Bar Method wants you to know it's different than the other barre-based classes out there. While the technique is also based on the Lotte Berk technique, The Bar Method was created with the help of physical therapists to accommodate and challenge students of all ages and body types, even those with physical limitations. "Every new exercise and/or variation is vetted according to high standards," Kiesha Ramey-Presner, a Bar Method master instructor and trainer, says. "The technique itself has evolved over many years to provide an even safer and more effective workout that includes modifications for a multitude of injuries and ailments."
For the uninitiated, barre-based workouts include a number of tiny, isometric movements that sculpt and stretch the muscles. You'll hear words like "pulse" and "just a centimeter lower" when you attend classes as instructors encourage students to get uncomfortable with the various targeted movements. Not only will you feel the effects of the workout in tiny muscles throughout your body, but The Bar Method features classes that are also low impact, making them great for anyone with joint issues. Plus, you'll leave each class feeling a little taller, a little more confident and a lot stronger.
"I have seen The Bar Method change people's lives in so many positive ways," Ramey-Presner explains. "With such a strong emphasis on posture and alignment, we are constantly encouraging students not only to push themselves harder, but to simply look up and stand taller. The physical impact of these changes is undeniable, but the psychological impact is almost more overwhelming.
If you're ready to challenge the tiny muscles in your body to a tough, but effective workout, start with this eight-move series from The Bar Method.
Happy Hour at the Barre1. Warm up your core with: Plank
2. Stretch your hamstrings and shoulders with: Downward Dog
- Come down to your knees or the balls of your feet for more of a challenge.
- Place your forearms on the floor with your palms facing in toward each other.
- Open your legs to hip-width and raise your hips to be in line with your shoulders. Grip your glutes and tuck them slightly under as you lift and keep your head in line with your shoulders.
- Pull in your abs and exhale sharply.
- Keep your shoulders down and your back flat as you hold this position for about 45 to 60 seconds.
3. Strengthen your calves and the muscles around your knees with: Heel Lifts.
- Come back onto your hands and knees.
- Place your hands flat on the floor as you press your seat up toward the ceiling, straightening your legs.
- Anchor your heels down toward the ground to increase the stretch in your hamstring.
- Press your chest toward your thighs as much as you can.
- After a few breaths, soften your knees, walk your hands closer to your feet and round yourself slowly up to a standing position.
4. Lengthen your calves with: Reverse Lunges
- Stand at half-arm's length away from the back of a stable desk or kitchen chair, with your hands lightly grasping the edge.
- Open your feet hip-width, keeping them parallel.
- Straighten your legs, tuck your glutes under, bend slightly forward at your waist and pull your shoulders back and down.
- From here, lift and lower you heels up, down, back up and back down for 12 repetitions.
5. Fire up your quads with: Parallel Thigh Work
- With your hands on the back of a stable desk or chair, step your right foot back behind you.
- Press your heels firmly into the carpet and check to be sure both sets of toes face forward.
- Bend your front knee and tuck your hips under. Point your elbows toward the floor, keeping your gaze straight ahead.
- Change sides. Repeat moving back and forth for 12 repetitions total.
6. Support your knees with: Lower Quad Work
- Stand a half-arm's length away from the back of a stable desk or chair, with your hands lightly grasping the edge. Open your feet to hip-width apart and parallel.
- Lift your heels as high as is comfortable for you.
- Now, bend your knees, coming about a third of the way down, maintaining a straight spine throughout.
- Relax your seat and maintain a light grip on the back of the chair with your eyes looking straight ahead.
- Press down an inch, then up an inch, back down an inch and so on. Vary your tempo and include static holds, if desired.
- Aim for one and a half to two minutes per set.
7. Strengthen your glutes with: Fold Over
- Standing beside the desk or chair again, press your heels together and open the balls of your feet about two to three inches apart into a narrow "V" shape.
- Raise your heels about an inch off the floor, then bend you knees and come to your lowest point.
- Relaxing your glutes and calves, press down an inch, up an inch, down an inch and so on.
- Aim for one and a half to two minutes per set, varying your tempo and including static holds as desired.
8. Carve your abs with: Low Curl
- Standing a full-arm's length away from the back of your chair or desk, place your feet parallel and hip-width apart, softening your knees.
- Holding onto the chair or desk, hinge forward until your back is horizontal.
- Separate your hands wider than your shoulders, angling your elbows diagonally downward.
- Exhale deeply as you raise your right foot up to seat height.
- From this position, use the base of your seat where your glutes and hamstrings meet to lift your right leg up one inch and down one inch, repeating for 2.5 to three minutes.
- Vary your tempo and include static holds as desired, then switch legs and repeat.
- Come down to the floor and lay on your back.
- With your feet parallel and hip-width apart on the floor, grip your glutes and press your lower back down into the mat or floor.
- Hold onto the back of your thighs and bend your elbows to raise your shoulders off the ground. If you feel yourself falling backward with more than your lower back down, place a throw pillow underneath your mid ribs for support.
- Use your biceps to pull yourself forward about an inch more.
- Pull your shoulders down and back, feeling your upper-back muscles supporting you from the back side. Exhale.
- Let go of your legs for a challenge and reset by holding back on about every 10 to 20 seconds. Then, repeat.