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How to Amp Up Your Arm Work

This week on the blog, Miranda shares her top tips on how to Amp Up Your Arm Work at the barre!

What is one of the easiest ways to spot someone who does barre outside of the studio?  Those AHHHH-mazing barre arms!  It’s pretty obvious that barre is a fabulous way to sculpt and tone your entire body, but one of the first and most dramatic changes you’re likely to experience is in your arms.  The light weight and high repetition along with the deep muscle contraction and connection allows for carving out those signature beautiful, lean and elongated muscles.  At first glance, you might not be too impressed with the fact that we only offer 1 and 1.5 kg weights in the studio, but that’s only because you haven’t experienced an arm series yet!  No matter how strong you are, you will feel the burn in the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and upper back despite those deceptively diminutive dumbbells.

Here are my top five tips for maximizing your arm work during barre:

  1. Think CONTRACTION not momentum.  We say it all the time… because it’s true – if you are connecting into the muscles, you don’t even need any weights at all to get a good arm workout.  You want to try eliminate any swinging, flinging, or floating.  Find a contraction in the muscle and try to keep it under pressure throughout the entire set regardless of any movement or motion we’re adding on.  You should control any movement in both directions creating as much resistance and opposition within your own body as possible.
  2. Work from the leader muscle.  You want to pay close attention to the specific area we are targeting with each change and try to fire from that muscle specifically whether it’s biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, or upper back.  The movement should be small and controlled, just like in your thighs, your seat, or your abs in the other sections of class.
  3. Find your best angle and work it!  All the exercises we do during barre arm work are designed to target very specific portions and sections of the upper body, so you want to really focus on keeping your arms at the right height throughout all the exercises. If your elbows are supposed to be away from your body, maybe trying extending your arms a little longer and lift those weights a little higher.  When you’re working corners of the chest in that big “O” shape – make sure the weights are only at chest height and not in line with your shoulders.  And when you bring your arms to those 90 degree angles to frame your face and work those shoulders, try to make sure the wrists are right in line with the elbows, the elbows are right in line with the shoulders, and those weights are as high and far away from your face as possible.
  4. Perfect your posture.  Making sure that the rest of your body stays in proper alignment through all the arm series is crucial to ensuring you get the most out of the work and that you protect yourself from any niggles or injuries.  You want to distribute your weight evenly throughout both feet, stack your shoulders right on top of your ribs and those ribs right on top of your hips.  Pull your navel in towards your spine, dropping the tailbone slightly down towards the floor and then keeping the crown of your head lifted towards the ceiling.
  5. Keep the shoulders and neck out of the equation.  Even when you’re working those tops of the shoulders, you want to try to keep them pressing down away from those ears.  Keep the chin lifted and the neck nice and long when you’re in an upright position.  When you’re hinging forward for triceps work, make sure the tips of those shoulders roll back and down, not forward and squeeze that upper back to keep the work in the back of the body as much as possible.


Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • John Sharkey says:

    Weight lighting needs assistance from professional trainers. Bad posture is one of the key reasons why many people undergo injury.

    • Hi John, Thanks so much for your comment. As professional trainers, we focus on the body moving as a whole unit to encourage safe exercise practice.
      Following extensive training from Stott, Balanced Body, Buff Bones and The Franklin Method (to name a few!), we apply the latest reseach in exercise and movement science to ensure an effective exercise system for all our clients! Have you tried a class with us ?