Barre, the ballet-inspired workout that focuses on isometric strength training, continues to gain new fans around the country due to its quick results and unique, graceful movements. Get a taste of this increasingly popular way to work out with this routine developed by BarreAmped creator and fitness instructor Suzanne Bowen. The total-body barre workout can be done anywhere you have a ledge or some other support for balance. These six effective moves will have your muscles shaking and working. Grab your mat, some light hand weights and a stopwatch, then warm up for five minutes and try it for yourself!
Up & Back with Arm Sculpt
To begin, hold on to something sturdy for balance and grip a light weight in your left hand. Extend left leg forward while keeping the right knee soft and hips squared. Take your left arm straight back behind rib cage as you feel your triceps contract.
On your inhale, hinge at the hips, bend your left leg and move the torso to face down as you reach the left leg straight back and your left arm forward. Exhale and return to start move. Continue for one minute.
Make it easier: Decrease range of motion, hand weight size or duration.
Make it harder: Increase time to 90 seconds and, with each move, pause and pulse arm and leg 10 times.
Troubleshoot: Be careful not to lock out the standing knee. Make sure that the leg is moving straight. When you hinge to move the leg back behind your body, bend the knee and press it back.
Works: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders and triceps.
Fiddler with Rear Shoulder Lift
From the last rep of "Up and Back" above, hold that hinge. Bend your elbow and face palm to the back, keeping the arm in line with your shoulder. Bend your left knee and point toes, then lift your right heel. Pulse left knee and elbow up in tiny moves up and down for one minute.
Make it easier: Drop right heel down, drop the weight and stay more upright.
Make it harder: Hinge more parallel to the floor, dip down a little lower in the right knee and increase duration to 90 seconds.
Troubleshoot: Keep hips square, right knee soft and core tight so that you don't move the lower back at all.
Works: Glutes, hamstrings, calves, rear deltoid, lower back.
Wide Second Middle Shoulder Lift
Holding support with right hand and weight in left hand, which is in front of hips, step out into a wide plie position and raise heels up. Stand up, keeping your heels lifted and raise your left arm to shoulder height. Move down and up slowly within this full range of motion. Repeat for one minute.
Make it easier: Keep heels down, decrease duration.
Make it harder: At the end of the 60 seconds, keep arm lifted, bend knees to the lowest point and pulse for 30 more seconds.
Troubleshoot: Ensure that knees and feet are tracking by making sure not to turn your feet out too much. With the heels up, keep the weight on your big and second toes, and less on the pinky toes. Keep your heels below the knees.
Works: Quads, inner thighs, calves and middle deltoids.
Turn around and repeat the first three exercises on the other side.
Tabletop Bent Knee Lift
On a mat, bring your hands below the shoulders and your knees underneath the hips. Place weight behind the front knee, securing it so it does not fall out. Tuck your back toes under and lift knee off mat as you raise the front of the leg up. Keep your core tight and pulse the front bent leg up for one minute.
Make it easier: Keep back knee down on the mat and/or do not use a weight behind the knee.
Make it harder: Move front knee in a full range of motion (all the way down and all the way back up) for 30 seconds, then pulse at the top for 30 seconds.
Works: Shoulders, arms, chest, glutes, hamstrings, quads, abs and lower back.
Troubleshoot: Keep everything in the upper body lifted and engaged. Do not let your neck or lower back sag. Core should be lifted to ensure that movement is in the leg lifting, not the lower back.
Repeat on the other side.
Single Straight Leg Stretch
Lie face up on the mat, draw legs up, keeping them as straight as possible, and feel your abs lift. Raise shoulder carriage and keep your head in line with the spine as you gaze up and ahead. Inhale. On the exhale, lower your front leg down as your bring your back leg up, keeping both legs straight. Inhale and exhale to change legs. Repeat for one minute.
Make it easier: Lower your shoulder carriage and your head down to the mat. Keep knees soft or slightly bent and decrease the range of motion.
Make it harder: Speed up the leg motions while maintaining control and stability through the core.
Troubleshoot: This move requires flexibility in the hamstrings and strength in the abdominal muslces. If you feel a strain in your neck, try pulling the abs in more. If your neck is still straining, lower your head and shoulders to the mat, but stay very connected to your core. As you build strength, attempt to lift the upper torso and head back up. Also, try not to tuck your chin, but instead keep your head in line with the spine.
Works: Abdominal wall and hip flexors. Stretches hamstrings.
Mermaid Bridge with Chest Lift
Lying face-up on the mat, bring your knees together and your feet apart, keeping your feet close to the hips. Holding a light weight in each hand, bring your arms straight above the chest with palms facing knees. Inhale. On the exhale, press your hips up and lower arms down to either side of the shoulders. Inhale as you lower the hips back down and lift your arms. Repeat this move for one minute.
Make it easier: Rather than creating the mermaid shape with the legs and feet, keep legs parallel and hip-distance and keep your heels down.
Make it harder: At the end of the minute, keep hips up, then lower and lift the arms for an additional 30 seconds.
Troubleshoot: It will be tempting to lift the lower body so high that the upper back begins to leave the mat. To avoid this pressure on your neck, be careful to keep you upper back in contact with the mat throughout the move. Also, as you lift your heels to create the mermaid shape, make sure that you are not turning your ankles out too much. In barre exercises, always consider alignment.
Works: Chest, lower back, inner thights and glutes.
About the Author
Classically trained at the prestigious Lotte Berk Method in NYC, Suzanne Bowen is the creator of Suzanne Bowen Fitness #SBF, an efficient mind-body technique that combines cutting-edge cardio, intelligent strengthening and dynamic stretching. Students flock to Suzanne because of her encouraging, no nonsense, straightforward teaching approach that provides targeted and overall results while guiding people to be the best they can be. From her training in modern and classical dance, Pilates, yoga and deep stretching, Suzanne has also developed the highly successful BarreAmped program that is licensed to over 50 studios worldwide and continues to grow under her tutelage. ''BarreAmped'' (Classic Barre) and ''BarreAmped Boot Camp,'' her newest DVDs, epitomize the best of her Barre targeted workouts and are available on Amazon and www.suzannebowenfitness.com.
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