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The Best Barre Exercises for Your Arms
Most people automatically associate barre classes with toning your legs and backside — and rightfully so. But The Bar Method just so happens to include plenty of arm exercises, as well! From curls that target your biceps to lat pulls that work your shoulders and upper back, we’re sharing some of the best barre exercises for your arms to give you lean, sculpted muscles that you’ll want to show off year-round.
One of the most well-known barre arm exercises, bicep curls tone and strengthen your bicep muscles while working your core muscles — specifically those in your abs, gluteus and upper back. Bar Method classes typically include bicep curls right after shoulder work, and these curls and pulses can be done in second position with a heavier set of weights. Not only do bicep curls target your biceps, but they also teach your body good posture and alignment.
Pro Tip: Avoid swinging your arms when performing bicep curls. Focus on controlling your movement rather than building your momentum.
A lesser known but equally effective variation of bicep curls, hammer curls are performed by extending your arms out in a T position from your shoulders and bringing the weights in toward your chest with your palms facing each other. This barre arm workout targets your biceps as well as the brachioradialis, which is an elbow-flexor muscle.
Pro Tip: For this barre strength workout, proper positioning is the key to getting results. Keep your elbows parallel to your shoulders and use slow and controlled movements. Do your best to keep your torso from moving side to side with each rep, as well.
90-Degree Shoulder Pulses
Bent-elbow lifts are The Bar Method’s version of 90-degree shoulder pulses. Shoulder pulses target the anterior deltoid muscles while stretching the posterior deltoids for one of the most comprehensive barre shoulder exercises around. These lifts help strengthen your postural muscles by engaging stabilizing muscles in your core as well as your glutes. Whether you’re an exercise newbie or a seasoned pro, this sculpted arm barre workout is easily modified for different fitness levels. New students can perform these lifts with lighter weights or no weights at all, while more experienced students can challenge their muscles with heavier weights instead.
Triceps are the largest muscle group in your arms — and they’re notoriously challenging to tone. They also play the biggest role in shaping your upper arms, which makes targeting them that much more important. Tricep dips are one of the most common arm exercises, but we like to kick them up a notch by doing reverse push-ups. This incredible arm-defining workout isolates your triceps while also engaging your core and protecting your joints. Plus, it spikes your heart rate with a burst of cardio. Reverse push-ups not only help tone your triceps but also work your biceps, deltoids and upper back muscles. Plus, they help strengthen your trapezius muscles, giving you the long, graceful neckline of a dancer.
Since Bar Method arm exercises don’t involve benches or heavy dumbbells, our version of the traditional chest press is performing push-ups using your own body weight for resistance. From full-range push-ups to micro pulses, this version of chest press strengthen and tone your shoulders, biceps, triceps and back muscles while engaging your entire core at the same time. Push-ups are quick to elevate your heart rate, making them one of the best barre workout options for torching some serious calories along the way.
Every Bar Method class includes either bicep curls, rhomboid pulls or lat pulls, and these arm exercises are strategically performed after shoulder work for the best results. Usually referred to as your lats, the latissimus dorsi muscles run from your armpits to the center of your lower back. They’re also the largest muscles in your back and are responsible for pulling your arms toward your body. Rhomboids, on the other hand, run between your spine and shoulder blades. Together with your traps, they’re the muscles that activate when you squeeze your shoulder blades together. They also tend to get weak from long hours hunched over desks and computers.
Both the lats and rhomboids are important muscles in your back, which is why we include targeted upper-back exercises like lat pulls and rhomboid pulls in our classes. Lat pulls in particular strengthen the muscles in your back, improve your posture and help protect against sports injuries. Plus, they therapeutically stretch your shoulders and chest. One of the best things about lat pulls is that they accommodate all skill levels and can even be performed by students nursing current injuries by using little to no weights, which makes them a versatile addition to every routine.
RELATED: Top Barre Exercises to Improve Posture
Our arms do so much for us — from lugging our groceries (all in a single trip, of course) to hugging the ones we hold near and dear. But they also play a huge role in performing other important tasks, too. The Bar Method is especially effective at sculpting arm muscles because we isolate and target specific muscle groups. By using relatively small movements, we focus on using muscular contractions rather than momentum. This approach helps to strengthen your muscles while also protecting your joints and ligaments. In turn, this also helps prevent possible injuries. These small movements yield big results, as your arms get stronger with more definition over time.
RELATED: The Benefits of Small Movements in Exercise
The Bar Method incorporates complete arm workouts in every single class, and our students continue to engage their postural muscles throughout different movements like arabesque and fold-over. Our small, controlled movements tone your arms while building upper-body strength and burning calories. This approach ultimately ensures that you get a full-body workout while sculpting and strengthening your arm muscles. Our classes don’t just save you time — they also maximize your routine for better overall results.
How to Get Sculpted Arms
When it comes to getting the long, lean arms of your dreams, consistency truly is key. We recommend taking a Bar Method class three to five times each week to gradually strengthen your muscles, sculpt your arms and improve your posture. As you progress, you can move on to arm workouts with weights and more challenging positions to define and strengthen your limbs even further. Hang in there and you’ll see results in no time!
Barre Shoulder Exercises
In addition to arm exercises, The Bar Method incorporates barre shoulder exercises like push-ups, planks and rhomboid pulls to strengthen and tone your shoulders. These moves also target your serratus anterior, which is a large muscle that extends from your shoulder blades to your ribcage and allows your arms to perform a wide range of movements like punches. In fact, it’s commonly known as the “boxer’s muscle.”
By focusing on all of your arm muscles — from your biceps and triceps to lats and deltoids — our small but effective isometric movements strengthen and define the entire arm. The best part? These moves don’t require gym equipment or heavy weights.
RELATED: The Most Neglected Muscle During Exercise: The Serratus Anterior
Ready to take your first barre class? Find a Bar Method studio near you to get started, or sign up for online classes here!