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3 New Moves to Kick Off the New Year
To celebrate the beginning of a new year, we’re highlighting a few of the latest and greatest moves from The Bar Method! These new exercises were inspired by some of our tried-and true moves (looking at you, leg lifts!), but were intentionally developed to provide more options to students so they could progress in their barre journey either at home or in the studio—but in a way that will always feel challenging and safe.
Flat-back is known for engaging abdominal and postural muscles through positioning and deep breathing, but it requires the use of a barre for support. With many members taking classes virtually at home, The Bar Method Innovation Team designed an alternative version that could replicate the deep ab engagement and targeting of the postural muscles. Just like traditional flat-back, flat-back alternative primarily works the transversus abdominus, the innermost muscle in your abs. The transversus abdominus or “TA” is a significant component of your core and is vital to back and core health, but it’s also difficult to isolate, so finding an alternative version that could be done outside of the studio was important. The same deep breathing that is used in regular flat-back is used in the alternative version. This intentional breathing is responsible for activating the TA. Lifting your legs in alternative flat-back works in a similar manner to the traditional version in that it uses the weight of your legs to challenge your abs. As you press your forearms against the floor and pull your shoulders down, your postural muscles engage, similar to how it would if you were to press up under the barre in regular flat-back.
While most of The Bar Method seat exercises are performed while standing, side-lying seat is unique in that it’s a non-weight bearing exercise. To perform side-lying seat, you will lay on one side of your body, and use gravity and small movements to target the opposite side glutes. This one movement has several variations to choose from. You can change the positioning of your arms or your legs to make side-lying seat easier, more challenging, or more comfortable. Side-lying seat primarily targets your gluteus medius—the corner of your seat—but it also strengthens your outer quad muscles and your hips. Strengthening these muscles can help prevent injury and pain in your hips, knees, and lower back. Additionally, this seat exercise will help improve the range of motion in your hips, boost muscle endurance, and build body stabilization.
Inverted Leg Lifts
You already know and love leg lifts, which is a challenging exercise as is for your working-side quads and hips, but inverted leg lifts take it to another level! At the same time, it also makes this move more do-able for many people. When you invert your torso (hinging diagonally backward from your hips), it works wonders for your body. Number one, it allows your working leg to lift much higher than it can during traditional leg lifts. When you try this version, you may notice less effort in your hip flexors and more burn in your quads. To take even more pressure off of the hip flexors, you have the option to hold on to your working leg throughout the entire exercise (Bonus! This variation gives your biceps a workout!).
Photo Credit: The Bar Method Phinney Ridge
Another option is to change the positioning of your legs; you can do inverted leg lifts with your legs straight, soft, or significantly bent. Which option should you choose? It will depend on the strength in your quads, hip flexor comfort, and your hamstring flexibility. Talk to your instructor if you’re unsure which variation is best for you. The hinge backward also requires your standing side glutes, quads, and hamstrings to take on the weight of your body. Meanwhile, the inverted angle will cause you to hold onto the barre more firmly—that works your upper body! Lastly, when you bend forward at your waist, you will feel your abs engage on a deeper level. All in all, although inverted leg lifts is primarily a thigh exercise, it ends up becoming an entire body exercise. When you meet this move in class, don’t be surprised if your instructor adds lunges at the end or in the middle of these leg lifts! Lunging will add intensity to your hamstrings, glutes, and quads, but will also give reprieve to your working leg’s hip flexors.
There’s no better way to start the new year strong! Have you tried any of these new exercises yet?