Ten Tips for Boosting Your Results From The Bar Method, Part 1

Kate and BritneyKate Grove is a master teacher and the manager of our Bar Method studio in the San Francisco Marina. Kate has a reputation for designing fun, creative classes, and she’s been just as creative as a studio manager. This year, she came up with the idea of offering student workshops to our “Club Bar” members, who are students with ongoing class packages. In the past, we’ve only given teacher workshops. Now thanks to Kate, our students are gaining expert knowledge about the Bar Method and are using that knowledge to take their workouts to the next level. After our first workshop, participants said that their classes were making them more sore than ever in the muscles they most wanted to shape. Britney Bart, a ten-year Bar Method student, commented that simply knowing where a muscle was on her body made the exercises feel different. “I have been doing arm walks with you since 2003,” Britney told me, “but I have not felt them and proactively utilized them for the specific purposes you described until the workshop.”

All these comments inspired me to share with Bar Method students who read this blog the information Kate and I gave in our workshop. This month focuses on our tips for the first half of class:

Tip # 1: Move your body in one-inch increments during the faster tempos.

Walnut CreekHow do you respond when your teacher says, “lift up, up, up” or “press in, in, in?” If your range is too large, you’re relying on momentum, which is only moderately effective at keeping your muscle “on.” If your range is too small, you’re not firing your muscle enough to get the most out of the exercise. A one-inch range keeps you “in the muscle,” while it enables that muscle to ignite with maximum energy on every rep.

Tip #2: Use your “rhomboids” and “lower traps.”

Trapezius Rhomboids and Serratus AnteriorWhen I take class, I’m constantly thinking about contracting my “rhomboids” and “lower traps” (“trapezius) during the weight-work section. These two muscles draw your shoulders in and down. During weight work they play a critical role in keeping your upper back from slumping forward and your shoulder joints from rotating out of kilter. They also help improve your posture and burn extra calories during the exercise. So one valuable piece of information I can offer you is to consciously use your “rhomboids” pull your shoulder blades closer together and your “traps” to pull your shoulder blades in and down. Reverse pushups can sculpt your lower “traps” if you hold your shoulders down while your arms are carrying the weight of your torso (see photo below). Stay aware of how these muscles enhance your performance, and you’ll sculpt your upper back muscles and give yourself a longer, more graceful your neck-line by virtue of your stronger “lower traps.”

Tip #3: Protect your joints by working in good form.

Here’s a fact you might not be aware of: when you stress a joint during a workout, the muscles around that joint will resist change. The joint sends a signal to these muscles saying in effect, “stop doing that!” So if you’re regularly tweaking a joint, you might not be getting the results you want.

jen in reverse pushupsThe Bar Method’s “reverse pushups” is an example of an exercise that you need to do in good form to get the best results. Here are the two key points to remember: 1. Keep your wrists turned forwards and slightly outwards. If you turn your wrists backwards, you’re pressing into your wrist joints instead of controlling the move with your arm muscles. 2. Keep your shoulders directly over your wrists. If you don’t and instead shift your shoulders forward of your wrists, you will pull your shoulder blades out of alignment and at the same time make the exercise significantly less targeted. So keep your shoulders directly over your wrists, and you’ll quickly gain the definition in your triceps you’re working for.

Tip #4: Do straight-leg pushups, and don’t go low!

Denise pushups straight armsPushups work an array of muscles. Obviously they sculpt your pecs and arms. Less obviously, they tone your abs, glutes, traps, and a muscle called the “serratus anterior,” which holds your shoulder blades in place when you’re pushing with your arms. By engaging these less obvious muscles, you’ll get much more out of pushups, and look great doing them. What’s the easiest way to do recruit all these muscles? Believe it or not, by doing straight-leg pushups (wait a second before you reject this idea!) and moving just one inch down and up. This way, you’re using every muscle in your pushups repertoire without killing yourself and creating a more defined body overall.

keryun thighTip #5: During thigh-work, let the music move you.

Bar Method students are famous for their fighting spirit, and if you’re one of them, I know you already give thigh-work your all. So what else can you do to get more out of this exercise? Make it a dance! Remember that you just gave your legs a deep stretch at the bar, and stretching is been proved to enhance muscular coordination. So use the stretches you did before thigh-work to take your performance to a new energetic level. Tap into the enhanced agility that the stretches infused into your legs, and do thigh-work like a dancer! Become one with the beat, and concentrate on performing the reps with precision and grace. Your muscles will expand and contract more energetically, and you’ll discover a new level of strength, athleticism and stamina in the process.

Next week! Ten Tips for Boosting Your Workout, Part 2

17 replies
  1. Hope
    Hope says:

    I heard once before, Bar Method is a lifelong lesson…, this article reinforces that. I would love to partake in a workshop – sounds like it would be very rewarding!
    Just a shot-out to the Soho NYC instructors – they are awesome!!!

  2. donna
    donna says:

    We did a curl workshop at Bar Method Carmel Mountain, and this week my abs are sore for the first time in a year! So yes, the workshops work!

  3. Sandra Barnes
    Sandra Barnes says:

    I love the Bar Method and would love to do a workshop The instructors are so great in Spokane they really make you work.

  4. Julie
    Julie says:

    I absolutely loved thesed tips, thats what I love about The Bar Method is always use proper form and proper alignment, which is always stressed while doing the Dvds. I seem to get better results doing The Bar Method over any other “bar type workout”. Also a huge THANKYOU to Burr for doing these monthly blogs!!! I really look forward to them. No other “barre workout” cares about us like Burr. Thank you Burr, you are truly inspirational!!!

  5. Vivienne (Toowoomba, Australia)
    Vivienne (Toowoomba, Australia) says:

    I agree with the comment that your commentary and encouragement in the exercise routines on DVD always keep me aware of my body’s posture and the muscle that is being exercised. And I did find out from watching your movements Burr that you only make miniscule moves not large ones to keep the muscle engaged. I’m 60 and will keep on doing these exercises for as long as I can. I do them in front of a mirror with my own home made barre – a thick curtain rod screwed to my bedroom wall. They’re the best I’ve ever tried and they’re the most enjoyable. I am keen to learn from your next set of tips.

  6. Dina L
    Dina L says:

    Thank you for these tips! I have already seen amazing results after attending classes at the Bar Method Ridgewood … I’m excited to see the boost I’m going to get after incorporating these. I have been hesitant to do a straight leg push-up but I’m going to try it today in class.

  7. Doris
    Doris says:

    By following bar method I’ve been benefited and my recommendation to everyone for following these tips to gain sound health. It will really handy to everyone. Thanks

  8. Vernita
    Vernita says:

    The Bar Method is the first workout that I actually look forward to (and that my body misses when I don’t go to class)! I’d love to see these kinds of workshops in the NYC Soho studio – I think they’d be really beneficial! I also second the “shout out” to Soho – and also to Bar Method WeHo!

  9. Shannon Troncoso
    Shannon Troncoso says:

    Thank you Burr! Your blog posts are always so informative and most of all help me deepen my Bar Method practice.

  10. Kitri
    Kitri says:

    Thanks for this explanation! Would you please explain the muscles involved in flatback? I get the importance of breathing in these exercises, but would like to know more. Thanks!

  11. Marikka Like Paprika
    Marikka Like Paprika says:

    I am so, so grateful for how much TBM has taught me about my own body. After a disabling injury, I could easily have lost mobility completely. TBM has very well saved my life. Big shout-out to Heather & Hannah & ladies at SF Downtown and the amazing foundation they gave me. And to Stacey, Kyla, Cindy & TBM Marin for continued learning and support.

  12. julie ackerman
    julie ackerman says:

    Love these informative and supportive blog posts. For those of us without a studio near by- it helps keep up the momentum!!! Love the specificity of the muscle info…thanks again

  13. Carol
    Carol says:

    I love reading these tips. I’ve only been taking the classes for a month and I’m totally hooked, people that don’t know I’m working out have seen a huge difference. Can’t wait to read part II.

  14. SAUCEY4
    SAUCEY4 says:

    Bar method is seriously my new addiction! It will be a year in 3 weeks since I was introduced to this amazing workout. Who knew I could do 80 push-ups on the balls of my feet? I love my Bar Method Point Loma and the amazing instructors.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *