The Method

Train your Core and Postural Muscles wIth The Bar Method Tuck

March 5, 2010
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core strengthening exerciseThe position that the Bar Method calls the tuck is very different from Lotte Berks original tuck. Lotte invented the exercises the Bar Method is based on in the 1960s. She was a Martha Graham-style dancer, so her tuck was taken from modern dance and looked kind of like a sexy slump. One of Lottes seat exercises was actually called the prostitute. To do the prostitute, Lottes students held onto the bar with one hand, rounded their shoulders, and raised one leg out to the side. Conversely, the Bar Method tuck position is very close to a spine-neutral stance. Its one of the secrets behind the Bar Methods signature long, lean look.

More important than making our bodies look better, the Bar Method tuck addresses common posture problems that our cars, couches, computers, TVs and cell phones subject us to.  These gadgets are great, but they free us from the heavy work our bodies are designed for. Without strong back muscles we tend to slump. Without strong ab and glute muscles we tend to let our stomachs tilt forward and our rears tilt back, none of which is not good for our spines.  The Bar Method tuck position recruits all three of these core muscle areas in order to both strengthen and elongate them.

core strengthenerSo how do you do The Bar Method tuck”? First, you draw your shoulder blades downwards. This action forces two sets of core muscles to turn on, namely your upper back muscles, which protect your shoulders, and your abdominal muscles, which protect your back. You are now holding your upper back a bit straighter than usual, a stance that strengthens your postural muscles.

Next, you relax your lower back. Releasing your lower back muscles is easy once youve done the first two steps described above, namely, lifting your chest and engaging your abs. Try this on your own: Stand up and then pull your shoulders down and your abs in. Youll find that the weight of your rib cage is no longer pressing on your lower back.

The last step in assuming the Bar Method tuck is to grip your glutes, which are also a core muscle group. Your glutes qualify as core muscles because they keep your hips level when you walk and run. Now youre in the Bar Method tuck, which means youve recruited all three core muscle groups: your upper back muscles, your abs and your glutes. Now youre ready to exercise in a position that:
–protects your spine;
–improves coordination;
–trains and tones your core muscles; and
–gives you great posture.
As a bonus, using the Bar Method tuck will make you a better athlete, since the best athletes really know how to use their core to optimize power and precision.

The Bar Method tuck position has several additional therapeutic benefits. It stretches your hip-flexors (your psoas/iliacus muscles), which are connected to your lower spine and upper legs.  When your psoas is tight, so is your lower back. Our chair-oriented life-styles give us a tendency towards tight hip-flexors, and the Bar Methods tuck position helps to lengthen them. Not to mention that the Bar Method tuck stretches your lower back, which has the same propensity for tightness. Finally, the tuck is great for strengthening your glutes. Because theyre located right under your spines, your glutes play an important role in supporting your lower back.

To be clear, the Bar Method tuck position is a great stance which strengthens lazy core and posture muscles and stretches tight ones when you exercise. Its not supposed to become your permanent posture. Once youre done exercising and out into the world, your body will assume its natural stance, only it will now be straighter, leaner looking and more graceful.

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