Today Miranda (she regularly blogs over @ barreeatrepeat.com) shares her top tips for getting the most out of your abs at the barre.
Although you probably have gathered by now that barre is definitely a fun and challenging full body
workout, you may not have realized the extent to which absolutely everything we do is designed to
develop and strengthen your core. Throughout class your abdominals should be active and engaged in
every.single.exercise. No matter if the work is targeting your thighs, your seat, or your abs specifically,
focusing on keeping your abdominals engaged in each exercise will help to ensure you’re in the correct
alignment, both keeping you safe AND deepening the work – maximizing your results!
And aside from the obvious aesthetic bonus of a flat tummy and obliques on fleek, a stronger core can
also help to reduce or eliminate back pain, improve your posture and balance and honestly make you
better at life and day-to- day tasks like carrying shopping bags, lifting and lowering children, climbing
stairs, or running a marathon.
1. Focus on the correct posture and practice pulling your abs in, holding them engaged in every
exercise. Although admittedly it can be challenging when your leg is about to collapse from that
signature barre shake, working in the correct position and keeping your spine and pelvis in a
neutral position is critical to making the most of the work. By keeping the abdominals
contracted throughout all of class, your core will get some major bonus work and your legs (or
seat, or arms) will be experiencing the best version of the intended exercise as well.
2. Find your connection points and use them to create resistance. Use whatever part of your
body is connected to the floor, wall, or barre to press and/or pull strongly, which allows for
better isolation of those deep abdominals. If you are working with your feet on the floor, PRESS
through them firmly into the floor. If your hand is pressing into the barre or pulling down off of
it, think of connecting your abs to drive that movement. If your upper back is against the wall
under the barre or flat to the mat for lower abdominal work, push it firmly against the surface to
create opposition and deepen the work through your center.
3. Keep any movements small, sharp, and controlled. Just like the teeny tiny pulses down in your
thigh exercises, try not to allow for any momentum or swinging in your ab work. As opposed to
a big lowering and lifting of your body up and down, your best and deepest work will happen
when you stay in a small range, keep the muscles engaged, and under pressure the whole time.
If any other part of your body is moving during your ab series, like legs dragging in towards you
or lifting up, make sure it’s coming from that core – the movement should only be as big as the
movement in your abs. The same is true for any rotation or twisting to the side, keep it out of
the shoulders and only between the ribs and your hips.
4. Work in your best position. Find your ideal height or level, where you can challenge yourself
without compromising your form. Try not to work so low in your c-curl shape that your feet
start to lift and you end up taking more work into your hip flexors than you do the abs (see point
two, it’s always better to keep those feet firmly pressed down). Also, rather than always taking
the challenge option of releasing your arms forward, maybe try keeping that feather-light grip
on the thighs and working a bit lower, taking the waistband of your pants nearer to the floor.
5. Keep the shoulders and neck out of the equation. You should not feel tension in your upper
body, just a whole lot of work in those abs. Avoid crunching your chin down into your neck or
chest or allowing the shoulders to hunch up near your ears. You want to lengthen through the
spine in order to eliminate any pain or issues elsewhere in the body whilst deepening the
challenge for your core.